Extra Charge For Finding Lead Based Paint

pcwearyOctober 2, 2010

I recently have requested bids from painters to do my exterior trim (excluding the windows). Home is 50 yrs. old.

While all were EPA certified, only one has put in his proposal, a clause relating to finding any lead based paint.

"To meet new Federal regulatory requirements, additional charges will apply if lead-based paint is found."

Is this normal? No one has told me what those charges might be. Please advise on whether painters are doing this now to cover their costs to meet EPA requirements and how I can protect myself from being overcharged.

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Those charges are normal.

>>> Due to the "Heavy fines" from EPA, few contractors will even touch a project anymore.
* The new law took effect April 22 this year.
* The classes started this year, and cost reputable painters several hundred $$$.
* Hack/cheap painters who don't know about the new law are SCREWED if caught, for disturbing/contaminating an area with lead-based debris.
* Obviously, any home has to be washed/rinsed/holes filled/sanding...etc., before any priming/painting can start.
* If lead particles in wash/rinse-water get into the ground...now the ground is contaminated! Sanding is ANOTHER contamination source.
* It is a BIG deal. Rinsewaters have to be contained. Special outfits have to be worn, etc.

I'd consider just siding over it!


    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 9:04PM
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Faron, thank you but I am still baffled about charge.

I am well aware of new law and specifically asked only EPA certified painters to put in an estimate.
But only one used that clause......all the others would have the same expense but they were not kicking it back to the homeowner, as their bids were the same.
What bothers me is having something so open-ended in a contract like that. Who is to say it isn't a $100 but $1000 or $2000 extra?

That was my point and how can I protect myself from a fraudulent amount extra.

BTW, my house is brick....we are only talking about fascia, soffitt, doors and shutters. (no windows)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 9:37PM
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Yeah...it seems like no 2 painters have charges broken-out in print the same way!

How they separately itemize/show expenses will differ greatly too. Since this is pretty new ground for many, I'd inquire further into actual estimates b4 any work is done.

I first thought it was a "whole-house" job! Sorry!
Charges will vary too, depending if all surfaces are lead-positive. Some may not be!

Sorry...I have no estimate on the actual $$$ difference. It varies moderately among painters, and how they approach "home X's" conditions.
* Some may use an "encapsulating" safe stripper, like Peelbond.
* Others may wash/rinse, etc.
* Sanding will probably be common to all.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 10:05PM
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The new law actually took effect Oct 1. It was delayed from April 22 for many reasons. Most contractors will simply assume that your home has lead based paint if it was built before 1978 and bid the jobs accordingly. You just found some guy that will actually test for lead and if it has none, his costs for the job will be much lower. The testing process itself is a huge pain and the contractor that chooses to test first will have to charge you for doing that testing and then if lead is found will have to charge you even more to engage in practices that comply with the law. So, it is only really worth it for the contractor to actually test for lead if he is pretty sure there isn't any. Also, you are right that having the contract open like that can be a risk....I am not really bidding on jobs like these so I can't be sure, but I don't understand why the contractor can't actually give you the exact amount for what it would cost if lead based paint is found. I would think he should be able to bid the job if lead based paint is present and if it is not. Maybe you can ask him to present it both ways.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 8:17AM
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Why is the testing process a huge pain? What all is involved?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 9:50AM
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From what I've read, contractors are required to ASSUME that lead paint is present in all homes built before 1978 and follow the EPA procedures UNLESS there has been a test or certified inspection that shows that no lead paint is present. If this is indeed the case, it seems that there should be no extra charge for removing lead paint, but only a possible discount if you can prove there is none. Obviously, all painting and repairs on older homes will after 10/1/2010 be much more expensive than before. For that matter, this law will increase pricing even for painting and repairs on lead-free homes, because the contractors will still need to be trained, maintain certification, buy special equipment, and keep records.

Like you, I don't like the idea of signing a contract with an open-ended clause. I think it would be a good idea for you to have your house tested before signing a contract. If no lead paint is present, you may be able to negotiate better pricing from all of the contractors. If it is, you can still try to get a fixed price, and you can ensure that the painters follow the necessary procedures.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 5:24PM
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If they put a contingency in there, they need to put in what their charges will be IF they find whatever. I would expect to see a per/square foot for lead paint removal coming right after the contingency clause.

I've had roofing contracts with them, because until the teat off the roof they have no idea what the sheathing is like. And the contracts all specified the price for remove and replace of rotted boards exceeding "X" square feet.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 4:57PM
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Thank you all for your excellent suggestions. You confirmed my wary concerns on proceeding without challenging.

I asked for and received a general statement that if any lead based paint is found, then there will be a charge equal to 20% of the entire estimated proposal.(To cover the additional expense he would incur) This would equal just short of $1000 extra and I have decided take my business elsewhere.

Thank you again....I now know how to approach the future bids.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 5:39PM
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