Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another Lead Update

I got a call from the city again today about our lead issues.  They've looked at our application, decided that we qualify for their home improvement loans, and needed to know if we would be using the loan program (or just the lead grant) and what we wanted worked on with the loan.  The sooner they get this information from us, the sooner he can get his paperwork stuff done, the sooner they can contact contractors and get bids, and the sooner they can get the work done.  If all goes well, they might be able to do the work in September, though we are shooting for Labor Day weekend plus a few days on either side.

So, here's where we are at:

The state is granting $11,000 for lead work which will cover:

Replacing all of our windows on the first floor (the second floor is newer and has vinyl windows).  Our windows are very old, single-pane, wood-wrapped windows with lead paint on them.  Not only will this remove the lead on the windows, it will increase the energy efficiency on our house and lower our heating bill.

Replace our front door.  It has a very high level of lead on the outside.  There's also lead paint on the threshold.  When the two slide together, it releases lead dust.  Plus, the door is rather crooked, has large gaps alone the frame where cold air leaks in, and is very difficult to lock.

Repaint the entire exterior of the house and garage.  They are completely covered in lead paint and peeling badly.

Repaint the interior rooms that have lead paint, which are the school room, the living room, the kitchen, and my daughter's bedroom.  The dining room (which is completely open to the living room and only separated by tiny 6 inch long walls) does not have lead.  They would apply two layers of mud, two layers of primer, texture, and paint.

In addition to the grant, we qualify for home improvement loans through the city.  They can loan up to $25,000 at 0% interest (interest is by income, I think) and deferred for 10-20 years.  I asked what happens if you can't afford to pay in 20 years, and I was told no one can pay in 20 years so we just defer in 5 year increments after that.  They would be in a 2nd lien position so if we were to sell, they'd get paid after the mortgage was paid off.  I've been told that we would not be held to any unrecovered funds in the event the sale price was too low to cover both loans.  I'll be checking those documents before signing.

While we don't really want to add to our debt, we're planning on taking advantage of this program.  Ideally, we want to move but finances and the economy being what they are, we can't.  So, since we are stuck here, we might as well live in a safer and nicer home.  Plus, many of the repairs will increase the home's saleability and value.  We have to give the city's guy a priority list of what we want done so he can crunch some numbers and see how far it can be stretched.   He offered his suggestions, which we prioritized a little differently.

First, we want the dining room to be redone to match the rest of the work they are doing in essentially the same room.  That shouldn't cost too much.

Second: Rewiring the house.  We have some very old electrical wiring, some if it is definitely not up to code.  Plus, being an old house we have a severe shortage of outlets.  We have extension cords and power strips throughout the house because we have so far outlets.  For example, we have exactly three in the kitchen making it necessary to put our microwave on an extension cord and our espresso machine, toaster, bread machine, and coffee grinder on a power strip.  Both issues are fire hazards; having that worry taken care of and having enough outlets will be nice.  Plus, updating will help with any future sale.

Third: Repairing the front porch.  The porch deck is old and starting to dry rot.  The rails are wobbly due to settling (they aren't attached to one of the columns.  Not only are these a safety hazard but we know that repairing it would be a condition of any future sale.

Fourth: Replacing the kitchen flooring.  It is old, ugly laminate with a seam down the middle that is starting to pull up.  It is also starting to pull up at the back door.  There is a possibility that the adhesive under the laminate has asbestos so we can't do it ourselves.  Having it done now means that safety hazard is taken care of for us and will make our kitchen look nicer.

Fifth:  Replacing the kitchen counters and back splash.  The back splash is laminate adhered to the wall and is wearing away.  The wood trim is kind of rotting too.  I'm sure it isn't pretty behind it.  The counters are laminate with metal corners holding it on.  It's ugly and has a broken piece near the sink.

Sixth:  New cabinets.  Ours are old, painted wood ones.  They are just old, worn, chipping, etc.  I would have never thought of putting this on the list but it was on the city guy's suggestions list.

Seventh:  New plumbing.  This was actual number 2 on the city guy's list.  Our pipes are old galvanized pipes.  He talked about how they erode from the inside out, reducing flow over time.  We've never had problems with our pipes and our water flow seems fine. So, it's a lower priority for us.  There are a few copper pipes which have the risk of lead in the soldering.  If testing shows we have lead, we'd probably change our priority list, bumping this up to the top.

Finally: Correcting a code issue with our bathtub faucet.  It's on the city guy's list but it's a really minor issue.  I think if there's money, fine, do it.  If not, it seems like something Scott can do on a weekend some time...sooner if necessary.

I have no idea how far the money will stretch so I don't know if even half of this can be done, but they were all suggestions made by the city guy (with the exception of the back splash).  There are other things I could upstairs carpeting and fixing the broken stair under that carpeting...but that's on the radar for the future.

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HeatherLee said...

That is amazing. I've been praying your family can find something to deal with this.

Anonymous said...

Can you possibly email me? My address is We have lead too and I am just at the very start of figuring out what to do. My name is Stacey.
Thank you!!!