Should you be worried if you’re a siding company and you’re dealing with old homes?

The answer is, that you shouldn’t necessarily be worried as much as you should be making sure that you are prepared. Prepared in case that you get audited by the EPA. In case you get audited for lead testing specifically. Our recommendation for contractors is always the same: It’s better to stay safe than sorry because you don’t want to be dealing with the expensive consequences that you will have to deal with if you’re caught not complying with the RRP regulations, and siding contractors aren’t exempt from these regulations.

Yes, if you’re a contractor and have been working for a period of time, it shouldn’t be coming to you as any surprise that you can’t just do work on old homes as you desire, and that includes not being able to simply start replacing the siding on a home. 

How old are the homes specifically that you’re referring to? Well, homes that were made before 1978 are subject to having lead paint in them, as there was a new law that was introduced in 1977 that banned the inclusion of lead in the paint of residential homes, and since then there have been a number of initiatives intended to ensure that homeowners and consumers stay safe.

While you may not agree with the actions taken by the EPA, nor do you necessarily appreciate that you now have to take additional measures when working on old homes, there’s no way around it. The issue is real, and even if you don’t want to take these measures for your own health, you should be doing it for the sake of the people whose homes you’ll be working on so that you aren’t exposing them to unnecessary danger either.

While we would encourage everyone to use the necessary lead testing kits that have been approved by the necessary regulatory bodies for the purpose, the reality is that the testing isn’t always being done to the extent that it should be done, and that you’re not just putting yourself in danger, but you’re also putting other people in danger as a consequence of your actions. 

The reason why we’re even able to be in business is because there are a bunch of requirements to contractors and homeowners when you are considering painting over laid paint, obtaining a painters’ license or trying to remove lead paint. Lead was unfortunately previously added to paint, and while you may agree or disagree with it, there’s no denying that when the condition of the paint deteriorates, this material becomes a health hazard in multiple ways. For one, the lead particles are released and as a consequence you get lead dust that can now end up making it into our bodies whether we want it or not. Hint – you don’t want it. But the lead can also be released and end up in the soil outside where it is also possible for it to do a bunch of damage. If you’re an avid person in the garden and love to plant your own vegetables, you might know that it does matter the quality that the soil has, because the things that you are planting will end up absorbing a bunch of the nutrients that the soil contains. You can then imagine that if it’s the case that the soil is rather containing lead, imagine what those vegetables will end up containing instead. Yes, you guessed it.

So why are people so scared of this material? 

If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to go on google and start typing in lead poisoning, and you will see that we aren’t just making this stuff up. Lead poisoning is a serious concern, and if you have children in the house, it should be taken even more seriously as kids are more prone to the inherent damages that the exposure will end up causing? 

Ever thought that you would like for your kids to end up with learning disabilities and developmental delay, when it could have been avoided? Every parent wants what is best for their kids, and that obviously also means that keeping them away from possible toxins is on the list of things that parents try to do. Lead is one of those things that parents don’t want their kids to be unnecessarily exposed to because it has so many bad consequences. We’re all very concerned about autism in today’s society. Can it be avoided, or is it one of those things that people will either get or not? There’s a line of people that believe that the likelihood of autism is significantly increased when someone is exposed to lead as well, so you might just want to take precautions. 

How does that affect someone working on siding projects, though? 

So if you came to this article because you are a siding contractor, or someone who will work on various siding projects, you should know that you aren’t exempt from the regulation that has been put in place by the EPA. 

Let’s go back a little bit of time to review what has previously been happening, and so that you can better understand why you should be worried about obtaining the right certifications, as well as making sure that you are keeping them up to date when you’re someone who is working on siding projects.

Back in 2008, the EPA instituted the RRP rule. You might perhaps be thinking that that really isn’t all that long ago, and that is very true. The RRP rule, which is the reason you have to have the necessary certifications when you’re working on projects that potentially have lead in them, means that you need to do a bunch of testing and documentation when it comes to homes that were built before the ban on lead was instituted, and if you don’t, you end up risking serious fines as a consequence when you end up being audited by the EPA.

But perhaps more so importantly than anything, wouldn’t you also want to make sure that your own health isn’t compromised as a consequence of the contracting work that you’re doing? Wouldn’t you like for your kidneys to continue working, rather than having them get beat down because you’re exposed to significant amounts of lead sources? The kidneys do provide a vital role in your body, and it isn’t that you can simply choose to forego what they do. No, if you don’t have functioning kidneys, you simply won’t be able to live, given their important functions. There are various contracting jobs that will mean that you will be releasing a bunch of lead dust into the air, and if you are not dealing with it the right way, and you’re standing in a sealed room, it’s not as if the air quality in there gets any better as a consequence, and when the air quality suffers, it goes into your lungs. 

While we really don’t want to encourage the continuation of the Covid madness, there’s no denying that the use of masks has been an important factor in slowing down the spread, because the mask provides an important measure in avoiding you breathing in certain particles, as well as avoiding spreading certain particles into the air.

Well, when it comes to doing home improvement work, among other things, the various rules are no different, and there’s a reason why you will also want to wear a mask. Although you won’t be protected by simply wearing any mask when you’re doing this type of work, you will need to be wearing the adequate protection that is rated for the work that you’re doing, and this means that you will need to wear a mask or respirator that is rated to be able to handle the difficulties posed by the lead paint being released into the air. You can’t simply be covering your face with any piece of cloth that seems to be the general consensus for Covid, but you will need to make sure that you are taking the right measures to keep yourself protected. In addition to that, there are also a bunch of other things that should be done in order to help you stay protected from the lead dust, which is done in order to avoid the spread of the material everywhere. 

Remember that we previously told you that we wrote a specific article on the topic of removing lead paint? That is an article that will apply to both contractors as well as homeowners when doing the work, but we specifically wrote this article for homeowners, since contractors should already know this information from the courses that they have taken on the topic.

Needless to say, if you are a homeowner, you may not previously have seen this information, and you should know that the additional measures that you should be taking include using plastic sheeting on the ground and taping it off as you are working on a room. Of course, that isn’t quite possible if you’re doing lead abatement work outside, but the article we wrote previously is specifically focused on an indoor room. However, a measure that can be used whether you’re working on somewhere outside, or you’re working on a room inside is to make sure that you are wetting the area that you are working on. Have you ever considered how much like glue dust will get when it gets wet as opposed to how easily it can fare around the room if it isn’t wet? Well, the same thing goes with lead paint and the dust that comes from those home improvement activities. If you are making sure that you are keeping the area wet that you are abating, you won’t have nearly the same amount of lead dust going everywhere, no matter if you’re inside or outside, which also helps outside. You will still be doing other activities like continuously wiping down to ensure that the area stays wet, and using a sponge to wipe off residue when you’re doing this type of work outside.

Either way, that was probably a tangent given the fact that this article was previously intended mainly for the consumption of our contractor audience, and if you want to continue reading on and you’re a homeowner, we have already gone over where you can get more information, including doing so on the blog that we’re hosting that also contains a wide range of other articles that you could be interested in. 

If you’re a contractor, we would also like to guide your attention in a certain direction. We have previously taken steps in order to better prepare contractors for the journey ahead when it comes to staying ahead of the various legislation and documentation requirements that are probably not your favorite part of your day, but which are aspects that you can’t simply ignore because you want to. To make it easier for contractors to ensure that they’re compliant with the EPA regulations, we have made a page where we are intending on combining the various stories that we get from contractors all over the country with their reports of dealing with the EPA. Go ahead and visit our page where you can find the EPA audit tracker, where we are sure you will end up getting some good advice on making sure that you stay compliant, and how you prepare yourself for an audit, if the EPA suddenly decides to show up in your town and want to be handing out fines to various companies. 

Can’t I just ignore the EPA and their requirements? 

There are a lot of contractors that may simply believe that the solution is to ignore that the EPA has various requirements that they make when it comes to being compliant with lead detection documentation. It is easy to see why that is the case since there are literal millions of homes in the US that still have lead paint in them, and there is no chance that the EPA could audit all the different contractors to make sure they have all the documentation required. 

Sure, you may do work on a specific project, but there is usually a paper trail that is left, and although you might not get audited now, it might rather happen in the future, where you’re not prepared for it. Siding contractors that do work that is regulated by the EPA are subject to the same requirements that are imposed on painting contractors, home improvement contractors and anyone else doing work that would otherwise affect the paint that contains the material. And while you might not be realizing it, there are in fact siding contractors that have gotten fined before. Simply check this post here, and you can see that there were over 100 federal enforcements in the year of 2016. The biggest fine that was issued was for $400,000, and that just goes to show that there are some really big fines being handed out. In addition to that, there have been siding contractors in the past that have gotten fined. If you take a look at this article, there was in fact a fine that was handed out to a contractor that does windows and siding work, and they ended up having to pay a penalty in excess of $30,000 because they weren’t compliant with the RRP regulations. 

A moral obligation and a business opportunity

While it may not seem tempting to go through the various steps that you need to go through in order to become RRP compliant, we still like to think there is both a lot of business reason to it, but we also like to believe that there is in fact a moral obligation to stay compliant when it comes to dealing with the homeowners whom you are doing work for.

A moral obligation might be one of those flimsy things that you don’t necessarily want to concern yourself with and we fully understand that you really just want to be concerning yourself more with actually installing, replacing and repairing siding on homes, but the reality of the matter is that some people will have to be living with the consequences of not having followed the rules. The health consequences are rather significant and we are not pretending like it is something that should be taken lightly. If you end up suffering from kidney damage as a consequence of not following the rules, that absolutely sucks for you. Especially since the kidney isn’t just one of those parts of the body that can basically repair itself. However, you are doing work for someone else, and these people may not necessarily be aware that the type of work you are doing, and the manner in which you are doing it could lead to significant health complications for them. Especially if they have a child or toddler living in the house, whom are more susceptible to the damaging effects of lead exposure. Even if you aren’t going to choose start following the rules for yourself, we at least encourage you to inform the families whom you are doing work for about some of the possible dangers and devastating situations that they are putting themselves in, and the consequences it could have on their health if they are exposing themselves to deteriorating lead paint.

It’s not even that you need to be concerning yourself with spending vast amounts of money on protecting yourself, and if you look at it, there are very big advantages to becoming certified as well. One of the more notable advantages is that you can turn the situation around and actually earn more money for your business.

There has been a sizeable push in the direction of ensuring that families aren’t exposed to lead, and you can take advantage of that fact. For instance, New York has started coming down on landlords that haven’t done the necessary lead testing. We are not talking about you having to go out and buy an expensive XRF machine that will set you back many thousands of dollars, and that you will then have to ensure is properly locked up as well in order to avoid that it potentially goes missing. We are talking about turning this whole situation around and turning it into a situation where it is in fact making your business more money.

The one thing that you can easily do with families is to help provide them the reassurance that you are in fact going to be working in a manner that is ensuring the highest levels of safety for them. On the other hand, if you are working for someone who is planning on renting out the property and using it to make money off of, you can point out that there has started to be an increase in the number of cities that are going after landlords when they aren’t complying.

When you are selling to either of the two groups, it’s important for you to realize that you aren’t just selling the service of changing out their siding so that they may avoid the implications of a water leak, and the expensive consequences that follow along with that, but you are rather selling a sense of security. Whether you are a family or a landlord, you want to feel safe. One of the big reasons why we have the big implications with Covid currently (this post was updated during the crazy pandemic times) is that people are not feeling safe. Well, when it comes to either their physical safety or their financial safety, you need to be informing people of the potential risks that they are exposing themselves to by not complying with the necessary regulations. Families will not like knowing that their children are at risk of the devastating effects of lead exposure, and landlords will not like knowing that the EPA or other government authority could potentially approach them with a fine that could run in the tens of thousands of dollars. For families, it is a possibility for you to properly pick up the trade of dealing with lead paint, and from it, additionally sell the service of lead abatement, which could give your business more than $10,000 per project that you work on.

While it may seem tedious to comply with the RRP regulations, it’s not all disadvantages. Yes, you will need to pay some money in order to get the certification in the first place, but you can turn it around and turn it into a money-making opportunity for your business.

If you are talking with a landlord who is telling you that he isn’t worried about getting fined, all you have to do is point out that a very different situation is starting to happen in New York where they have been focusing on the non-compliance among landlords. With these newly acquired skills, you will also get rich opportunity to try out different things like using some of these paint strippers.

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