Colorado Family Loses Everything in “Asbestos Spill”
In Littleton, Colorado, a young couple and their small children are learning an expensive lesson about hiring licensed contractors to perform asbestos abatement work.
When the pair advertised on Facebook for someone to scrape the popcorn ceilings of their recently-purchased, 1970s-built home, they got a great deal – or so they thought – from a low-priced handyman who said he could tackle the job.
Natasha Mitchell and her husband Chris were impressed with the handyman when they met him and were confident that he could do the job.
“When he came out, he was really polite,” said Natasha.
But when he finished the work, the young mom of two said she knew something wasn’t right.
“I bring my kiddos home, and when I get there, there is just extra debris in rooms that weren’t having the ceilings scraped.”
That sinking feeling prompted the couple to bring in an environmental company to test their home. A report from that company showed that there was asbestos dust literally everywhere and, furthermore, that it was going to be nearly impossible to get rid of it all.
As a matter of fact, the report the company submitted referred to the Mitchell’s situation as a “major asbestos spill”. Natasha says she got estimates of between $20,000 and $30,000 for clean up and, in addition, anything that’s not a hard surface cannot be properly cleaned and must be thrown away.
“Anything that’s cloth, so all our clothes, carpet, couches, mattresses linens, everything has to be tossed,” said Chris Mitchell. “Also, electronics that have vents, so TV, computers, printers, appliances are gone.”
Frighteningly, the couple and their children also spent a night in the dust-ridden home before recognizing the dangers that were lurking there.
Once they realized what was happening, the family of four moved to a relative’s house. But that one night in the asbestos-covered home will haunt the Mitchells for some time as it takes years for asbestos-related diseases to manifest, so the effect of sleeping in the house just that one night may not be evident for decades.
In the meantime, the contractor Jim Johnson of Jim’s Renovations, claims he did everything “by the book”, blaming the Mitchells for the spill and claiming that they had started the renovations before he arrived.
However, he also appeared not to be licensed for this kind of work.
“People are really unaware of what asbestos is,” said Eric Delgado, with Colorado Hazardous Environmental, the Project Manager for the cleanup at the Mitchell home. “They see something that looks like it could be easily removed, and they don’t really think about the hazard it is.”
Friends have started a funding page to help the family replace their belongings and the Mitchells are eager to let others know that asbestos is a dangerous thing and not something to consider lightly.
“So, the big thing is it’s an expensive process to do it properly,” said Natasha during an interview that aired on Denver’s Channel 7 News.
“But it’s your health and potentially your whole home. So, testing prior and don’t just do it yourself, make sure you hire the right company and check on their license.”