A lot of people may assert that what you see on a high-profile contractor or remodeling TV show isn’t true to life, but as one crew found out, being behind the camera doesn’t excuse you from following the RRP rule. The quick takeaway here is that if you’re going to appear on national TV doing contracting work, whether you’re the star of the show or a paint contractor making a guest appearance, it’s important to comply with any lead and safety regulations as your work is there for all to see, often for years after the event.
An article in the Indianapolis Star reported that according to the EPA, the company known as Two Chicks and a Hammer — featured in the popular “Good Bones” TV series — was fined $40,000 for allegedly violating the federal RRP rule. Starting in 2017, the company was featured on the show working on three Indianapolis-area homes, all of which were built before 1978, meaning that they would be mandated to comply with the RRP rule as lead paint could have been present in those structures.
The EPA alleged that the company — the mother-daughter team of Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk — performed renovations without complying with the RRP rule, that it was not certified to perform the work in the first place, and that it failed to properly contain and transport the waste in a way that would prevent the release of lead dust and debris.
A Bad Influence?
Because of the popularity of this show, the EPA noted that this behavior could influence many people to embark on potentially dangerous projects without proper compliance or protection. “Compliance with federal lead paint laws is essential to protect children across the country and is a priority for the EPA,” said Debra Shore, administrator for EPA Region 5 that contains Indiana, in a statement. “With so many people watching TV shows like these for tips on remodeling their own homes, it’s extremely important for these shows to demonstrate lead-safe work practices.”
Since being contacted by EPA, the company has obtained RRP firm certification, certified it is complying with the RRP Rule and agreed to comply with the Rule in all future renovation activities. It has also agreed to inform the public on proper procedure; along with the fine, the settlement includes a requirement to produce a video about renovations involving lead-based paint, primarily featuring Mina Starsiak Hawk. Two Chicks will also post another video on social media about protecting children from lead exposure.
An article on the website Remodeling elaborates that that in 2020, the stars of Detroit-based Rehab Addict and of Kansas City-based Bargain Mansions were cited under similar violations. As part of the settlement, the EPA required them to take steps to ensure compliance with lead-based paint regulations in future renovation projects and to educate the public about lead-based paint hazards and appropriate renovation procedures in self-produced videos, social media postings, and public events.
This is where it’s important to understand that making an appearance on one of these shows does not shield you from government oversight. Four Kansas City contractors who appeared on Bargain Mansion were also fined for RRP rule violations in conjunction with their work on the show.
According to the EPA, the fines in these two show totaled $59,000 while in 2018, Chip and Joanna Gaines the stars of Fixer Upper were fined $160,000 for lead paint violations regarding work done on 33 properties in Waco, TX.