It was a strange summer. As you probably know if you stop by this blog regularly, we’ve been undergoing an extensive renovation of the exterior and the third floor of our house. It’s not a full-on green remodel by any means but we’re doing what we can to keep things eco-friendly and safe for our family. While the project has been fun and exciting in many ways, there were also some known challenges (lead paint) as well as some negative impacts that I did not count on.
Challenge #1: We had no yard for our kids to play in. Luckily we live close to a park but it still curbed those spontaneous games in the backyard and general time outside. It also meant that we didn’t eat meals outside like we usually do in the summer. Except for a couple instances of dumpster dining, we ate indoors to lessen our exposure to construction dust and debris.
Challenge #2: We had to keep our windows closed most of the time. This was primarily to keep out dangerous dust from lead paint and general construction. You see, the original siding on our house was painted with lead paint (see photo above). It had been covered up by metal siding for years but was exposed when they took the metal off last summer. This summer the lead painted wood was completely removed – using appropriate lead abatement techniques of course. I had my 6 year old tested for lead poisoning last summer and he was fine. I’m planning to get him tested again now that all of the lead paint is gone. It’s a bummer because it is a blood draw (not a finger prick), which is very traumatic. I hate to make him go through it again, but I think it’s important. (For more info on lead poisoning – a huge issue with old houses – visit LeadFreeKids.org.)
Are you planning a home renovation or remodeling project? Here are a few tips to keep things safe and sane for your family:
- Find out if you have lead paint in your house. Test kits are available at most hardware stores and online.
- If you do have lead paint, make sure your contractor is certified in lead paint abatement procedures.
- Keep dust out of living areas as much as possible. That might mean opening or closing windows depending on where the work is happening. Use fans to move dust out of the house.
- Vacuum regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to capture tiny particles of lead dust and other toxins.
- Wet-wipe and mop frequently (dry dusting just moves the dust around).
- Invest in high-quality filters for your furnace or air conditioning and change them frequently.
- Have a shoes-on policy in all construction areas (no bare feet!)
- Plan on being out of the house as much as possible. (This was tough for us because we do not have any relatives in town but we took trips and even had a staycation at a hotel when our spray foam insulation was being blown in.)
- If you are concerned about lead paint exposure, get your kids tested. The biggest threat is to babies and kids under 6 years old.
At this point the major construction is over but there are still TONS of finishing details left. Here’s what our house looks like as of today. The outside is scheduled to be painted later this week and the inside is being dry-walled as I type. After that, tiling the shower and installing fixtures in our new 3rd floor bathroom will begin!
Next summer, I am looking forward to fresh breezes throughout the house and lots of outdoor play time all season long!
Do you have any remodeling stories to share? How did you handle the dust, debris and disruption?