Dale Cardwell: Lead can add to house work costs
by Dale Cardwell
Business Columnist
December 22, 2011 12:00 AM | 1042 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dale Cardwell<br>Business Columnist
Dale Cardwell
Business Columnist
A couple of years ago, real estate expert John Adams started ringing the bell about a relatively unknown federal regulation that would be a veritable tidal wave in the construction industry. It’s called the RRP rule, and it requires all contractors to test for the presence of lead-based paint on structures built before 1978. If the structure tests positive, then the contractors are obligated to contain, minimize and clean up the dust that can cause health problems — especially to children.

Yawning yet? I was, too. Still John kept telling me this was a really, big deal. Why? Contractors caught failing to abide by the law would be fined and prosecuted. That got my interest. At TrustDale.com, my team and I research and recommend companies that deliver — through our seven-point review process — the best combination of price, quality and customer service. That combination requires those companies to also follow the law. Cut corners if you wish, but the first time a contractor does work on your home — and their employee gets injured — you’ll be shocked to find out you’re the one responsible for his medical bills — and you’re the one he’ll sue.

The reason you’ve probably never heard of this regulation is that just months after it was implemented under the George W. Bush administration, the economy crashed and construction practically ground to a halt. Since no one was building, no one was worried about it — except for John Adams. In fact, this real estate legend got his federal certification and began teaching a class for contractors on how to identify and remediate lead.

Two years have gone by, and just this week the lead issue hit one of my excellent companies and me straight between the eyes. This contractor — just like dozens of others on TrustDale.com — goes out and writes estimates based on what it will take to get the job done. Look at its proposal: It tells you — right there in black and white — that if lead is detected in the mandatory test, the cost of your service will go up, simply because the federal government requires that contractor to minimize the threat of the lead. What’s more, this contractor makes no money on the extra work; he simply covers the cost of covering his and his clients’ … you know what.

How do I know the lead hit the fan? Within hours of learning that the cost of the job was going to increase by $1,300, the customer filed a complaint against the contractor on TrustDale.com. They asked me to investigate and activate my Make It Right Guarantee, a process in which I require the contractor to make it right — if in fact they’ve failed to deliver the excellent price quality and customer service that got them selected and certified through TrustDale.com.

I read the contract the customer signed, and it stated clearly if lead were found through the test process, the price would go up. The contract indicated exactly how much the price would rise, and what’s more, it gave the customer the opportunity to cancel the contract. What happened next? The customer authorized the work to be done, and then demanded the original price WITH the lead remediation. I call that something for nothing — and I said no, I wouldn’t support that request.

My point? Get ready to hear a lot more about the RRP rule, and send John Adams a thank-you note for trying to warn you. Contractors interested in taking John’s class visit www.renovate99.com.

Watch TrustDale TV at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays and at 11 a.m. Sundays on Fox 5; listen to Dale’s advice on the Rob Johnson Show on 640 AM WGST weekdays; and listen to TrustDale Radio at 3 p.m. Sundays on 640 AM WGST. For more information, go to www.TrustDale.com. You can reach Dale at Help@TrustDale.com. Beginning in 2012, listen to Dale’s consumer advice on WSB Radio, AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM.
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