News, Trends, Community - September

Consumer Awareness

Homeowners Vague about RRP Rules

More than half (53 percent) of homeowners surveyed by the Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Association of the Remodeling Industry said they were unaware of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. Forty-seven percent responded they had heard of the requirement.

The additional cost for a certified contractor was worth spending, according to 38 percent of respondents, while 34 percent said complying with RRP was somewhat important and 9 percent said it was not very important. Eight percent said hiring a certified contractor was of no importance, and 11 percent said it would depend on price.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they would do the work themselves to save money, and 51 percent said they wished to be allowed to opt out of the rule. Twenty-nine percent said they would hire a non-EPA-certified contractor to save money, and 63 percent were uncomfortable with disclosing lead-testing information on a future sale.

"While the RMI indicates the home-remodeling market softened somewhat in the second quarter, this is still the second highest RMI we’ve been able to report since the third quarter of 2007."
—NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe

Energy Efficiency

Firm Partnering with National Lab

Renewal System Solutions, sister company of Decatur, Ga.-based remodeling firm Renewal Design-Build, is partnering with Atlanta-based Southface Energy Institute and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tenn., to help achieve significant energy savings through home-efficiency improvements to several metro Atlanta homes. As part of a nationwide study, Southface Energy Institute and ORNL are developing extensive retrofit case studies on the homes. The retrofits’ goal is a 30 to 50 percent increase in energy savings.

Lead Paint

EPA Revises “Renovate Right” Pamphlet

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may have backed away from clearance testing in its July ruling on revisions to the lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, but a revision to the “Renovate Right” brochure, which remodelers, window installers and other contractors are required to distribute to property owners and tenants living in homes built before 1978 prior to beginning any remodeling work, suggests that homeowners request a lead-dust test conducted by a third-party laboratory.

Remodelers and other contractors who have already printed copies of the April 2010 version of “Renovate Right” should download “For Property Owners: After the Work is Done” from the EPA publication website ( Distribution of the new version to clients is mandatory to remain compliant with the law. A full version of the revised brochure also is available online at


Some Seasonal Improvement in Home Prices

Data through May 2011 showed a second consecutive month of increase in prices for the 10- and 20-city composites, according to New York-based S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The 10- and 20-city composites were up 1.1 percent and 1 percent, respectively, in May over April. Sixteen of the 20 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and both composites posted positive monthly increases. Detroit; Las Vegas; and Tampa, Fla., were down during the month and Phoenix was unchanged. On an annual basis, Washington, D.C., was the only MSA with a positive rate of change, up 1.3 percent. The remaining 19 MSAs and the 10- and 20-city composites were down in May 2011 versus the same month last year. Minneapolis fared the worst, posting a double-digit decline of 11.7 percent.


Remodeling Activity Slows

The Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB’s) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) dipped during the second quarter to 43.9 from the first quarter result of 46.5.

“While the RMI indicates the home- remodeling market softened somewhat in the second quarter, this is still the second highest RMI we’ve been able to report since the third quarter of 2007,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Two indicators of current market conditions dropped: major additions to 46.2 (from 50.3 in the first quarter) and maintenance and repair to 38.4 (from 39.5). A third indicator, minor additions, remained essentially flat at 48.5 (from 48). Future market indicators also descended: calls for bids to 49.8 (from 53.1), backlog of remodeling jobs to 45.7 (from 49.7) and appointments for proposals to 44.2 (from 52.4). The amount of work committed for the next three months stayed level at 32.3 (from 32.1).