Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Remodeling Adventure

We have a problem with our bathrooms, a moisture problem, and it's going to get worse if we don't fix it now. The bad news is that it will require tearing up the floor and part of a wall and replacing the plumbing fixtures. The good news is that when we are done, we will have two beautiful new bathrooms, which won't make me sick, with a new ventilation system that will prevent any further problems. That's the goal.

More good news--we've found a contractor who is very familiar with chemical sensitivity and is willing to do everything to my specifications. More bad news--I will have to leave the house for a few weeks while the work is being done. (Sounds like a good excuse to go visit grandchildren, right?) Before I leave, however, I have to okay all the materials to be used, from tile grout to wall board to doorknobs. I'm really open to suggestions if anyone out there in cyberspace has been down this road recently, especially if you know specific products that have worked for you. (This is a thinly-veiled cry for HELP.)

We went through this experience on a much larger scale sixteen years ago, when we had a home built for us in Washington. We had a great contractor then too, and we learned a lot in the process. Then, when we moved to Montana, this house needed some serious work done to it. At that time, I purchased the book, The Healthy House, by John Bower (The Healthy House Institute, 2001, 4th edition). I still have this book, and it's a great resource.

I recently found another book too, Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders & Homeowners, by Paula Baker-Laporte, Erica Elliott and John Banta (New Society Publishers, 2008, third revised edition). The authors of this book are a physician (an environmental medicine specialist), an architect and a building consultant. All three of the authors have chemical sensitivities themselves and all have built safe houses for themselves. This book is really amazing. It has so much detail and takes into account the fact that people have differing sensitivities, so what works for one person may not work for another. The authors try to point out all the possible problems and how to solve them, but recognize that each person has to figure out what is going to be the best individual solution.

Frankly, I'm more than a little overwhelmed by all of this. But it has to be done. As my dad would have said, "It's an adventure."

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