2017: The Remediation

Kitchen Before & After:  Still Reactive After Removing All Cabinets

Unfortunately, the remediation company was delayed, so they couldn’t start our job until the second week in May.  Enter a long and terrible tale of mistakes and mayhem during the remediation – too long to tell here, as it is already quite the story.  In essence, after two full weeks they still weren’t done, because we kept finding dusty, mangy things left behind. The crew kept having to come back and re-do things they had missed or screwed up. 

By June 1st, we wound up living in a hotel in Burlington for 10 days with our cats – because our landlady had already rented our apartment to someone else. The remediation STILL wasn’t done properly, so we had nowhere to go.  Everything from the apartment was perched in the back of the truck, waiting for a safe landing zone.

Two Happy Cats!

A very special kudos goes out to the incredibly kind and generous Vergennes Animal Hospital: for taking in our kitties – multiple times – during this entire mess. Every time we were under pressure, briefly without a roof over our heads, and desperate to figure out what to do next – they helped ease our minds that at the least the cats would be safe, and in good hands during each transition. A heartfelt “Thank You”, goes to the entire staff!

Even after the nearly two week delay living at the hotel, when we got back into our house “officially” (for the second time), we STILL kept finding more stuff that the supposed pros had missed. They had to come back again and again, while we hunkered down in the studio once more.  The list of what they missed or didn’t clean properly was long and cringe-worthy. 

For instance, the remediation plan advised only removing the bottom half of the exterior walls. As “experts” we trusted them, but now we had discovered that the insides of the upper half of the walls were just as contaminated, simply due to air circulation. WE were the ones who found it because the crew had randomly pulled out too much insulation here and there, behind the remaining upper walls throughout the house. When we started to replace it, we had to remove more drywall to get the new insulation in – thus discovering that the insulation itself was contaminated with the dust, toxins, and VOCs that had been emanating from the mold within the lower wall cavities. Now we know that the entire exterior wall in each room should have had ALL the drywall and ALL the insulation, as well as the contaminated vapor barrier removed.

July 2017: What David Found Under the Kitchen Window

On top of that — through our own sleuthing, we uncovered more toxic mold in the wall under the kitchen window, behind where the sink was. Invisible from either side of the wall — completely hidden within it. We found that not just the kitchen window had failed, but ALL the windows in the house had failed, and were slowly leaking into the wall cavities beneath. Not a peep from the pros about the issues found. They had just painted over the studs in question, and left us with the aftermath. If we hadn’t been paying attention, we would have been sealing things back up and repeating the problem.

Attic Exposed – Above Master Bathroom Ceiling

Oh — and as if that weren’t enough. In July we discovered that the attic was compromised too, so ALL the ceiling insulation and drywall would have to be replaced there as well. “Thanks again”, to the remediation crew: the dangling, open duct in the bathroom was full of contaminated dust and munge, and their “negative air” setup was pulling air through it, thereby spewing contamination throughout the attic.  “Thanks” also goes to the builder, who, amongst the trillion other mistakes made, hadn’t insulated the can lights that were in the ceilings of every room. The condensation over the first 8 years, before we even bought the house, had caused hidden mold/toxin damage in the ceilings, behind each of the lights. So, in addition to everything else, that had been affecting us all that time too.

For all our troubles from this debacle, our bodies have developed an uncanny ability to sense contamination to within a few feet of the source.  David is especially fine-tuned now. The most notable symptoms for him are that the toxins make his ears ring, and he gets a sore throat. I tend to become even more exhausted, will get random hot flashes, and sometimes I will get a weird, split-second, earthquakey, “twitchy-nerve” kind of thing in my legs.  It feels like someone tugged a rug underfoot, but there isn’t one. Unfortunately, there is enough overlap in ME/CFS symptoms that I can’t always be certain that what I am experiencing is due to exposure. For David, it is more clear cut and he is spot on nearly 100% of the time… down to exact location. We’ve joked that he could be a “Mold Whisperer”, except that it would probably kill him in the long run!

The Redux