Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Nightmare on Elm Street

This is kind of a long story, but I'll try and make it brief. We moved into a rental house on Elm St. We knew we wanted something short term while we house hunted and got to know the town a little bit better. We found out about the Elm St. house through a friend. We took a look at it and thought it was a great house. The outside paint was chipping and the inside needed some minor repairs, but we were definitely interested in moving in. The landlord said he was gonna fix some things inside and we told him that we wanted the paint that was chipping on the outside to be tested for lead. He said he'd just go ahead and have the outside repainted. Sounds great, right? As it turns out, no.
It was gonna take the paint crew a while to get started, but they were gonna go ahead and "scrape and wash" the outside of the house and get everything all cleaned up before we moved in. Wasn't that nice of them? Yes it was. Unfortunately, the painters were not what I would call bright or capable or, well you get the point. When we moved in, there were paint chips covering the lawn still. Ok, no problem. The painters were coming the next day to get it officially clean. A few days later, one guy shows up with a leaf blower. After a couple of hours of creating a nice dust storm, he packed it up. I'm not sure, but I think it was dirtier after he left than when he showed up.
Summertime in the south, means that there are a lot of thunderstorms. It rained off and on for a few days, and according to the painters, this preempted any attempts to get the paint chips up.
Meanwhile, days come and go, and we are constantly cleaning up paint chips in the house. They get tracked in every time we come in. The dogs track them in every time they come in. It's starting to get a little frustrating. So, a call goes out to the landlord, once again asking to have the paint tested for lead. He says he'll call the painters immediately to take care of the mess. True to his word, the painters actually started to clean up a bit. By now, the painters had decided it was time to start actual work on the house. Up until now, another job had kept them busy. But wait...the back of the house has not been "scraped and washed" yet. What the hell??!! So, some dude gets a power washer and starts on the back of the house. Paint chips are exploding off the side of the house. Everything that is in the backyard is covered. (Chairs, toys, playground set, my grill) This takes about one afternoon to complete.
Finally, they start painting. And scraping windows. And smoking cigarettes at the windows. And talking on their cell phones at the windows. And blocking the driveway. And knocking on the door to ask if they can use the bathroom.
We grin and bear it. And clean up paint chips. Then.....we found paint chips on toys INSIDE. And we found paint chips on Lindsay's (my 2 year old) arm. So, another call goes out to the landlord. "Something has to be done. These paint chips MUST be tested!!" "OK", says Mr. Landlord. He tests them. And guess what. They are F@#*ing positive!! Lead paint chips on EVERYTHING!!
That day we take the kids to the doctor to get blood tests. The results won't be back for several weeks we are told. We start looking for a new place. We call the health department to find out how to clean our stuff. We ended up having to throw away a lot of our stuff because we couldn't get it clean. After a month and a half of living on Elm St. we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. Most of our belongings are in storage. Our dogs are living with my in-laws. We are still house hunting.
The good news about all of this is, unlike Johnny Depp, we survived Elm St.


Samantha said...

Matt, that is definitely a nightmare :-( Hope the kiddies are alright.

Joel said...

Matt, just heard about this....I'm sure telling your friends in WI about the Bullshit, when you're dealing with it, isn't the first thing on your list. I hope the kids are able to resume normal kid-type activities! No more nightmare on Elm Street, at least for you!