Monday, May 31, 2010

A Mother's Release: Permanent Solutions

When weighing our lead-abatement options, we had a county lead inspector come and look at our house. According to his findings, none of the interior paint was a problem. The only issue was the old windows and exterior paint on the house and garage. The soil right next to the house and garage was also contaminated.

Replacing the rest of the windows was a given—that we would find a different contractor was also a given. We also needed to do something about our 4 exterior doors, and then make the big decision: whether or not to install vinyl siding.

The two doors in the living rooms have gorgeous, beveled glass panes and would cost a fortune to replace. We tried to find someone who would strip them and repaint them, but didn't have much luck. While we continued to look at our options for those doors, last Fall we went ahead and hired someone to replace the two doors that don't face the road and that weren't particularly attractive.

It was a miracle! It was only a small job, but the contractor showed up on time, kept the work area very clean, and finished in a timely manner. So when it came time to get quotes on the rest of the replacement windows and possible siding or repainting, that contractor was at the top of the list.

We found all of our contractors on the list of state-certified lead abatement contractors. It was a pretty random, frustrating process. I'd search on the state's database for contractors with current lead abatement licenses. I'd get a lot of results that were irrelevant: contractors from all across the state (I couldn't figure out how to narrow it to just our area), or contractors who only did inspections and not actual abatement work. I had a goal: every week or so, I'd call 5 more contractors. Of those 5, 2 might never answer or call me back. Two might talk to me on the phone, but never get around to actually coming to the house. If I was lucky, 1 would actually come and look at the house and give me an estimate.

The estimates ranged from under $2o,000 to over $40,000. In the end, we did decide to get vinyl siding over our original wood siding. We preferred the look of the natural wood, but it was just not cost-effective or particularly safe to stick with the lead-painted wood. We would have to repaint at the very first sign of cracking, which meant a recurring cost every 3-5 years, instead of 5-10, which we had originally planned on. Plus, it would need to be lead-safe painting, where the painters put drop cloths on the ground to pick up every paint chip that falls so that it doesn't further contaminate the soil. The paint can't be dry-scraped, because that would also release lead dust, so the whole process would be much more time-consuming and, of course, costly. It just made more sense to get the vinyl siding now and be done worrying about it.

We also hadn't realized that we would need to replace our garage doors and windows. The garage and the doors were painted with the same paint, and any friction surface creates lead dust, so that added on to the total, too.

Unlike the first window replacements, everything became much simpler once we made our choices and hired a contractor. We used the same contractor who had replaced the two doors, and again they did an amazing job. They worked diligently, cleaned up every night, and the job was done in a few weeks. So although we've had some very bad contractor experience, at least now I feel like I have one contractor that I would want to call again!

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Finding good contractors is a nightmare, isn't it...