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Dear Mr. EPA Man, A Plea from another legal hard working contractor

Posted by Mark Paskell on Thu, Jul 08, 2010 @ 09:41 PM

I received a call today from a nice guy who had a similar mindset to a contractor I spoke with earlier this year. I thought I would republish my post Mr EPA Man and share the views of concerned contractors.

Post from January;

Today I received a phone call from a contractor who is gravely concerned about his future. This man was polite and sincere. His story has touched me and I am compelled to write it for him as I believe it may resonate with many hard working contractors who share the same concerns about the realities of complying with the new EPA RRP Lead Rule. To the best of my ability I convey his story to you.  

Dear Mr. EPA Man,

Two weeks ago I was at the lumber yard buying supplies and I saw a publication about the EPA RRP Lead Rule. I was not aware of this impending law due to my busy schedule and family responsibilities. Now that I am, I will follow the law and apply for my firm certification and I have scheduled my Certified Renovator Training. I beleive that I must be a totally legit business. I pay my taxes, carry general liability insurance, carry workmen's compensation for my carpenters, pay my workers matching taxes, have my builder's license, obtain permits, follow the code, have my state registration and follow safe work practices as required by OSHA.

I am an average hard working contractor and I love what I do. I have a great wife, two wonderful children and do the best I can to be a good father, husband, employer and community man. I must confess it is extremely hard these days since the housing industry has been decimated by the mismanagement of our economy.

With that said, I spent the past week reading the law and the requirements on the EPA sites. I have learned what must be done in order to comply. I see an estimate of $35.00 per job in the EPA wording and I am troubled how such a number was conjured up.

I have listed the things that I will have to do comply with the practices. The costs are no where near what you claim.

First the training and certification is 300.00 for my firm and 900.00 for my employees. Second, I see I must purchase materials that will likely cost 600.00 to 700.00 to get started. Third, I see I must be extemely diligent about the documentation and I must keep records for three years. I do not know what this will cost but I know that I must create a new paper work and filing system to make sure everything is correct in case of an audit. My best guess is that the paperwork will add several hours to each project and the office systems will cost several thousand in developing the right system, training my office manager, training my staff and setting up office infrastructure. Fourth, I see that the lead safe practices which I can and will do, will impact productivity. Fifth I see that my subs will have to become certified and I am concerned will they or will I be responsible for them as well. Sixth, I wonder if my insurance will skyrocket. I called my agent and he said there is no insurance coverage for this. Only abatement coverage costing over $6000.00. Seven, I see that enforcement will be by the EPA and building inspectors are not part of the plan. Eight, will I have to compete against dozens of contractors who will fly under the radar and Nine how will I explain this additional cost to a homeowner who has no equity, is fearful of losing their job, and facing huge increases in taxes, health care and energy. Adding up the costs; priceless.  

I love my country, my family and my work helping homeowners improve their homes. I have no union to fight for me and yet I see they get preferred status from a government that has forgotten me and the residential construction industry. I don't want a bail out only a fair level playing field. Our industry is decimated and the more I have looked into this new law I picture thousands of contractors not abiding by these rules due to inadequate funding for enforcement. 

So would you please do something for me? I will abide by the law. Could you at least promise me that you will require all cities and towns to cast a wide net to prevent all illegal contractors from perfoming illegal work? Will you demand that all pre-1978 projects requiring permits also require proof of your firm certification and certified renovator training? Will you deputize building and health inspectors to locally enforce this rule? Will you demand that insurance companies come up with a fairly priced insurance products that will protect us against claims for essentially dust protection and not abatement?

Then at least I can have some confidence that my government is striving to maintain a level playing field and I won't be the only one doing what is right. I too believe in the spirit of the rule to protect children, pregnant woman, homeowners and employees from lead poisoning.

What concerns me is the timing and the likelihood of no enforcement or insurance causing me to lose my business and not be able to provide for my family. If everyone else has to comply then I will compete on even ground and then may the best company prevail.

From a legal hard working contractor, father, husband, taxpayer, and small business owner who loves helping homeowners improve their homes.

mark the coach

Tags: mark the coach, Contractor, EPA RRP Lead Rule