Everybody is talking about the upcoming regulations that will take place for window installations in houses built prior to 1978. The new regulations are designed to protect pregnant women and children from the hazards of airborne lead particles that may arise from disturbing painted surfaces during the process of window installation. The fear is that the new regulations will add quite a bit to the cost of installing new windows and may have a detrimental effect on the replacement window market which right now is about the only market that is keeping most window manufacturers alive.

“On one hand the government has passed stimulus legislation to help boost the window industry, and now on the other hand this legislation may very well end up negating this,” is one remark that I have heard quite a few times during my travels in recent weeks. “Contractors and homeowners are not the ones who formulated the lead into the paint so why are they being saddled with the expense for cleaning it up!” is another remark that has also been heard repeatedly in recent weeks.

Since it looks like the EPA is going to remove the “opt out” procedure, the new regulations will likely affect every pre-1978 home installation without the possibility of letting homeowners waive the required procedures if there are no young children or pregnant women occupying the home. By some estimates, this pre-78 market segment represents 60 percent of the all homes and this is the portion of the market most likely to need new windows! Now, depending upon the price of the window, the added costs can represent anywhere from a 10 to 25 percent increase in the installed cost of a window. So the fear is that these new regulations can possibly put a significant damper on the recovery we are seeing in the replacement window market!

The one thing that really concerns many window manufacturers is that if you are a homeowner facing up to double the cost on window installation, one way to avoid it is to go buy windows directly from a home supply center and either try installing them yourself or recruit “Uncle Tim Taylor” to install the windows for free. These “DIY” installations are likely to lead to other problems. The average Joe who is not professionally trained to install windows is more likely to make mistakes, and this will lead to more window failures. Many window manufacturers are concerned that they will get warranty claims for windows which failed due to improper installation.

Even more importantly, if lead is such as grave concern, why are non-compensated renovations allowed to proceed on their own without any concern for the safety of the occupants? By increasing the costs of the renovations at the ultimate expense of the homeowner, isn’t the EPA encouraging lower income homeowners to take on the “risky business” of lead based renovation on their own?

1 Comment

  1. I have gone thru the certification program for lead paint abatement with window replacement. The estimate of 10 to 20% higher installed cost is much below the actual cost. Consider that installation time per window will at least triple in most cases. You will not be able to use a reciprocating saw to cut frames, all cuts will be done with hand saws, staging in different rooms with multiple work areas will will be nearly impossible. Installers will likely see large increases in liability insurance and disposal cost because they are now working with hazardous materials, documentation will add administative cost. This could be a calamity for the industry.

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