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July 22, 2010 05:55 PM

Certified Contractors Get The Lead Out

Sioux Falls, SD


Tougher federal rules aimed at protecting neighborhoods from lead paint are making remodeling projects more costly for those with older homes.


The EPA banned paint containing lead in 1978. And new rules now require homes built before then to have remodeling work done only by contractors certified in lead paint removal. There are still plenty of older homes with the toxic metal on their walls and trim. The government wants to make sure it's removed without contaminating the water supply or the neighbor's yard.

In between remodeling projects, many Sioux Falls builders are going to school to learn about new federal guidelines on how to safely remove lead paint.

"Lead is nothing to mess with at all.  It's mainly serious when you have small children in the house and where there are elderly that are pretty much confined to the house," Alan Amdahl of Amdahl Construction said.

Gone are the days when do-it-yourselfers or a handyman could simply power wash the lead paint off a wall. Now, certified contractors decked out in protective gear are the only ones authorized to get the lead out.

"The one home that we're doing next week, we're actually physically removing all of the siding.  So we're laying down the plastic tarps and the guys are having the proper protection on, then we remove it piece-by-piece and throw it away," Amdahl said.

Amdahl, who's certified in lead paint removal, says the added precautions could add thousands of dollars to a remodeling project.

"The sad thing about this is that the homes that really need to be worked on, the homes that need new windows, that need new doors, that are from the '40's, '50's, or earlier, that we know are full of lead paint, those people can barely afford to do the doors or windows now," Amdahl said.

And Amdahl won't be surprised if contractors aren't willing to tackle such projects anymore because of the added paperwork: To them, lead paint and red tape don't mix.

Owners looking to remodel their homes built before 1978 must first have the house tested for lead paint.

Builders have until the end of this year to get certified.
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