Do Rules on Disturbing Lead Paint Apply to a Detached Garage?
In federal rules that took effect last April, contractors who disturb lead paint in homes built before 1978 must be certified, and they must adhere to certain work practices designed to prevent the spread of lead dust and chips.
The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection offers a detailed explanation of the so-called RRP rules (for renovation, repair and painting) on its web site. The issue also has been covered at both Fine Homebuilding and Green Building Advisor.
But exactly how the regulations are to be applied is not always perfectly clear.
That’s the case in this Breaktime post by Bryan Klakamp. Bryan writes that a neighbor hired someone to clean and paint an old, detached garage on is property.
“He used a high pressure sprayer to blow the paint off of the garage, and he used no tarps, so paint chips are everywhere,” Bryan writes.
“The neighbors garage is less than 20 feet from my house, and we will end up tracking lead paint chips into our house. My question is: Does the RRP Rule apply to garages and other outbuildings? Is there a minimum distance away from a residence?
The instructor at Bryan’s RRP class said barns were excluded from the rules, but wasn’t specific about detached garages. What’s the deal?
Lead Paint Remodeling Center
Rules are long and complex
Some of the replies suggest that if the intent of the regulations is to prevent lead contamination of areas where people work and live, it would make sense to include a detached garage.
“You can bet if it doesn’t cover it, it sure as hell should,” Calvin writes. “That is if the direction of the laws are toward real protection of inhabitants of dwellings and to those neighbors surrounding said dwelling.”
“If that happened in RI, one phone call to the state would have an enforcement officer there in 15 minutes,” MikeSmith adds.
Yet tracking down this nuance could be a formidable job. Zipwall provides a link to the EPA rules as explained in the Federal Register in 2008. The answer to Bryan’s question may be here somewhere, but the document is 79 pages of dense text that looks like something out of a textbook for third-year law students.
Piffin, in fact, attempted a keyword search of the document, hunting for “garage,” “detached,” and “separate,” and came up empty.
In the absence of any definite ruling, DanH doesn’t think the exclusion for barns would apply here. “My gut feel is that the exemption for barns is a general exemption for ‘agricultural buildings,’” he writes. “Ag buildings are routinely exempted from many building and safety regs for several reasons, good and bad. A garage would only earn an exemption if you kept a horse in it.”
Renosteinke says the answer to Bryan’s question hinges on two points: not only whether a detached garage would be considered part of a residence, but also whether the person doing the work was a “contractor” under the regulations.
Suppose the worker was paid less than $600, therefore falling below the IRS threshold for a 1099 tax form, and didn’t advertise his services with a business card, an ad on Craigslist or something similar.
In that case, Renosteinke says, “the guy can probably claim to be an employee, and thus exempt from the rules.”
“The fact is, your neighbor can sand/scrape/power-wash his house all day, sending lead paint dust flying all over the neighborhood, without violating the law,” Renosteinke writes. “It’s only illegal if a CONTRACTOR does the same thing. So, have a hissy fit if it makes you feel better … but that’s the only satisfaction you’ll get.
“There’s another unintended consequence: the new rules will only give the itinerant laborer an even greater price advantage over a ‘real’ contractor. At some point, all that will remain are the trunk-slammers. Most folks feel that being a ‘good neighbor’ stops at their pocketbook.”
Our expert’s opinion
Martin Holladay, senior editor at Green Building Advisor — and author of the whitepaper, A Contractor’s Guide to the New Lead Paint Rule, had this to say:
The EPA regulations, called the Renovation, Repair, and Remodeling (RRP) Rule, apply only to housing. According to the RRP Rule, “‘Target housing’ is defined in section 401 of TSCA as any housing constructed prior to 1978, except housing for the elderly or persons with disabilities (unless any child under age 6 resides or is expected to reside in such housing) or any 0-bedroom dwelling.”
Most experts interpret this to mean that the RRP Rule does not apply to detached
garages. For example, a Web site maintained by the state of Oregon includes the following Q&A: “Q. For a detached structure not used as a dwelling (for example, a garage, shed, barn, boathouse) do the LBP rules apply? A. No. The building is not housing. Therefore, it is not ‘target housing’ even if built before 1978.”
|Download Martin’s white paper in our Lead Paint Remodeling Center. Also,watch videos on complying with the RRP rule both indoors and out, download special checklists, and a job site sign that you can post on jobs.|