For the past few years whenever I photographed the house I could do it at such an angle that it looked pretty good. The shed had been rebuilt and painted and so had the front. The gable ends were a different story. We’d talked about getting a high lift for the job but even in one of those it’s pretty high up there. Then there is the square footage that needed painting.
We’re not painters. In our younger years we painted because we had to and I can truly say I didn’t enjoy a single minute of it – especially exterior painting. We decided to hire a company that works with college kids for the summer. The kids are local but they have to play by the rules which gets me to the ranting part of this blog today.
By law in Massachusetts if the building where paint is to be removed was built before 1978 it is assumed the paint is lead based. If you are a contractor doing the work every chip has to be accounted for and if, God forbid, it touches anyone’s skin they could be poisoned. This law, in my opinion has put these kids at extreme risk in their jobs. As you can see from the photograph they are wearing hooded coveralls, booties, respirators and goggles. I should also tell you they began work at 7 A.M. and finished around 4:30 P.M. It was over 85 degrees and the humidity was over 90%. The booties they wear have nothing on the bottom of them that prevent slipping so they climb up and down an aluminum ladder that is pretty slick. One false move at the top of one and we’re talking bad, bad news here.
My first thought when I walked out to see their progress was “I hope to God they have amazing liability insurance.” My second was to make sure they had enough water. It was so hot.
They scraped all day with the paint landing on the plastic they had carefully laid over the vegetation near the house. At the end of the day they used a shop vac to pick up anything that was in the grass. At least they took the hoods off to do that.
They told me over the weekend and yesterday morning that they had estimated 24 man hours to scrape both ends of the house – I laughed. A little over ambitious was my replay. All day 4 of them scraped and just about finished one side with the idea being today two of them would prime while two worked on scraping the other side (you must have a lead abatement person present whenever paint is being removed).
It poured rain last night (much, much-needed I might add) and threatened to do so this morning so painting was out. One of the kids was sick overnight (my guess was heat stroke) and they decided to put it off until tomorrow. Maybe it’ll cool off and they will have recovered.
Want to know the worst part of this story? If we had decided to paint it ourselves we do not have to adhere to the MA law, we wouldn’t have to suit up. Even worse? All of the exterior wood was replaced on the house in 1984- there isn’t any lead paint on it.