There is a new lead/EPA law coming to your home April 22, 2010, whether you want it or not. For homeowners that own pre 1978 homes, all remodelers whether they are replacing windows, siding, kitches, soffit, facia, etc. may be using lead safe practices in your home. The way the new law reads today is this. If there are children under 6 or pregnant women in the house, lead safe practices need to be recognized and used. This last statement is only a brief section of the law so you will want to look further into the details - for example if a child visits a home twice a week for 3 hours or more - lead safe practices also need to be used. As a father of two little children, I can get behind protecting children from lead poisoning if this was all there was to it.
However, things are much more complicated. There is an opt out clause currently in the law. There is a likelihood that this opt out will be removed. If this happens, any person owning a pre 1978 home will be required to have their remodeler use lead safe practices. You will not have the choice, the EPA will have decided for you. Why pre 1978 homes? This is when lead paint was 'banned.' So if you own a pre 78 home, there is a good chance your home contains some amount of lead.
But how does this effect us as homeowners. First, the costs of doing remodeling projects are going to skyrocket. Using lead safe practices is not inexpensive both from a labor and materials perspective. Also, less and less remodelers will be willing to do work on pre 1978 homes because of the added hassle and expense. If there are less contractors willing to do this work, there will be less competition for people wanting to do work on my home. This will lead to costs increasing even further.
Because as homeowners, we have had to work with smaller budgets, the smaller jobs we have been doing over the past couple of years are going to be economically prohibitive because of the new costs associated with lead safe practices. Because our pre 1978 homes will be tested for lead, when we go to sell our home, we will have to note this on our disclosures. So if we do remodeling work, we are penalized for this compared to our neighbor who also owns a pre 1978 home and doesn't have remodeling work done - or did the work before April 22, 2010. They don't or didn't have to disclose it because lead testing wasn't required.
With the added costs associated with remodeling, we are in essence taxed for it. We want to be rewarded for making our older homes more energy efficient, not penalized for it. I have been writing my lawmakers about this and if you agree, I encourage you to do the same.