March 31, 2012

New routine

As much as I want to just hide my head in the sand (if it's by my house, it's probably contaminated with lead dust) I can't. This nightmare we've been living since September that keeps getting worse as time drags on isn't something I can wake up from or ignore. So until it is over, here are some of the things that have become part of our routine.

Oh, how I hate to clean. I love a clean house, but I have 5 people that I swear go behind me and undo the cleaning I've done. I'll admit that dusting was the big thing I wouldn't do if I didn't feel like it. I tried to keep clean clothes and dishes and keep things picked up. But with lead paint on the outside of the house, I HAVE to dust. Twice a week, I take a wet cloth and wipe down all the window sills. I wet mop the floor twice a week. Once a week I wipe down the walls around the windows. It probably doesn't sound like much work, but we have 16 large windows. And no carpeting. It takes me awhile and I hate every minute of it.

I've spent a lot of time looking into various aspects of this lead fiasco. I'm in contact with the lead inspector, the health department, I've talked with the State Lead Program contact, the EPA Regional lead contact, the head of Lead Safe State. We've also had multiple contractors out to the house to get estimates...2 of which have declined to do the work for us, if that gives you any indication as to what kind of mess this is :( I've also been looking for different ways to fund this small little project we are required to do. I bought a lottery ticket this week, hoping to cash in that big jackpot, but unfortunately my ticket wasn't the winner I was sure it was. In April, there is a lead meeting and at that point the Lead Safe State head will know if there will be any funding to help with lead abatement. We applied for a home equity loan that really was a waste of time, but maybe, just maybe I'll be surprised. I did find that there is a type of loan called a Title 1 FHA home improvement loan. There is one bank in our area that is approved to handle this type of loan. The only problem is the maximum amount you can get is $25K so we'd still have to get a personal loan for the additional $11K that we need. We could try to refinance our house and depending on the house appraisal amount, request that amount instead of just what we owe and use that to help fund the repairs, although I doubt that the house is worth $36K more than what we owe. Another option is to try to finance through larger siding and window companies. For now, we're waiting to hear from the credit union. Sometime next week we'll know something, but considering there is no equity in the house yet, I'm not hopeful.

Letter Writing
This is something I have been working on. I've sent a few letters of to the health dept and lead heads, but now my new tactic is to write to our congressmen. If I have to, I'll write a letter to the President of the United States. I'm trying to get my thoughts together so I sound like an intelligent, well-informed individual. The last thing I need is to receive yet another copy of Lead in Your Home: A Parent's Reference Guide. I want to make sure these people do understand that I am completely aware of the hazards of lead paint and it's implications for growth and development. I don't need a lecture on it's hazards. What I want to convey to them is that if they are going to require a family to do something that costs this much money, there needs to be something to help with the cost, whether it's a grant, or some type of loan.

OMG, the stress. I've been stressed before, but this is unreal. The lead is there. But the fact that only 1 of the kids had a high level says something. Even with my poor housekeeping skills, I've managed to keep the hazard minimal. With the exception of that paint chip that Caleb ate. The honest truth is this: for us anyway, if I had been a better housekeeper and cleaned up those paint chips, we wouldn't be here. It isn't the lead dust that poisoned Caleb, it was those damn paint chips from the door jambs. On one hand, the lead is still there on the outside of the house so it needs to be taken care of, but on the other, I just don't know how it will get done. When we do figure out how to fund this, we will be out of our house for the duration of the work. Hopefully, it won't take too long, but this won't be a quick 1-2 day job to replace 16 windows, put siding up over our large house, and encapsulate parts of the porch. We are a busy family: Husband works full-time, I work full time, and 3 of our 4 kids are playing summer league baseball...3 different age groups. That's one aspect of this adventure I'm not going to try to fix until we know when the work will be done.

We're trying to have a good attitude. The contractor we like so far explained that there will be yellow caution tape put up around our property, with signage that tells people to stay out of the work area. I feel like we're living in a condemned house. It will look awesome, like the old houses I dream about ours looking like once it's done. We will take pictures of the progress, just so maybe we can look back on this and laugh someday.


Kathy said...

I wish I had some more helpful advice (or a magic wand), but all I can advise for how to come up with the money to pay for this lead problem is what you're already doing. I got this advice from Robert Kyosaki's book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad": "Don't say, 'I can't afford it'; instead say, 'How can I afford it?' The first statement shuts down your mental ability to make a difference, whereas the second statement causes your mind to open up to explore the possibilities.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I met a mom who adopted a baby much faster than her family had thought possible (they met a woman who decided to give her baby up for adoption instead of aborting him at 20 weeks). While that was a blessing, it also meant that they had to come up with several thousand dollars (I think in the range of $20,000, perhaps more) to cover adoption fees, in a matter of a few months, rather than the year or two they were expecting when they first decided to adopt. They marshaled their friends and church members to do fund-raisers -- yard sales, bake sales, etc., and got the money they needed. Perhaps you can do something like that.

Does your mom or a friend have a delicious *something* they make, that they could sell at a bake sale? You could purchase the ingredients if necessary. People spend $3 on a box of Girl Scout cookies because "it's a good cause" (maybe more -- it's been a few years since I've indulged); surely they would spend $3 to help someone they know, with funds going directly to the person who needs it rather than to some huge organization that needs to pay CEOs, etc.

You work at a hospital, so at least you have a lot of co-workers -- maybe they would be willing to help you by cleaning out their closets, garages, and attics, and letting you sell their old stuff at a yard sale. Most people can get about $500 with their stuff, and many people can easily get over $1000, so get 5 or 10 average people, and that might net you $5000. Many people just don't like the hassle of a yard sale, or have only a few items so don't think it's worth it; but it would be worth it to you to combine all their stuff into one big yard sale, or several smaller ones (you don't want it to be overwhelmingly confusing). If you or somebody you know has a truck, you can even pick up their stuff and take it to your house (or the yard sale location).

Can your church do a fund-raiser of some sort? A spaghetti supper? A talent show? (One of my mom's friends had her church do a talent show to raise money for her family to send her daughter to some sort of anorexia therapy or rehab.) A costume party? A viewing of some movie?

In your previous post, you say that the work has to be done by specially trained and licensed people. However, can *some* of the work be done by your church friends? Or could they at least be helpers to the contractor, and reduce his cost and yours?

And can any of your kids take over any of the dusting and/or cleaning? [I can't remember how old your older kids are, so they may be too young, but this may be something that will at least help lower your work-load.]

B Flat Major said...

Have you thought about taking the people who sold your home to you to Small Claims court for failure to disclose? Or the company that performed your pre-close home inspection? Worth a shot.

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AtYourCervix said...

There are grants out there!!!! I found some info here:

Not sure if you tried that program yet.

AtYourCervix said...

More info:

AtYourCervix said...

What about this site? Plug in your state for specific state grants/funding available.