Archive for June, 2010

June: Getting the Lead Out

Posted on 11 June 2010 | Category: Tips


Lead represents one of the most insidious dangers we face from our homes, mainly because it’s unseen and its effects aren’t always immediately apparent. But a majority of structures built before 1978 have at least some lead in the paint, dust or soil, and it represents a threat to every member of the family, especially children and pets.

With the warmer months here to stay, many people are fixing up their homes, either themselves or using a contractor. That process can expose old lead paint and disturb dust and soil that has been contaminated with lead.

For that reason, this month our to-do list features recommendations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for keeping your family safe when you’re doing work around the house.

hudJune To-Dos:

According to HUD, there are six principles everyone who lives in or works on a pre-1978 structure should remember:

1. ASSUME: Paint in homes built before 1978 contains lead (unless a lead-based paint inspection shows it doesn’t)

2. CHECK: Federal, state, and local regulations before doing any work

3. AVOID: Creating dust. Keep dust contained to immediate work area

4. PROTECT: Occupants, particularly children

lead35. CLEAN UP: After all work, which is particularly important if painted surfaces were broken or wall cavities were opened

6. MAINTAIN: A dry building. Moisture problems can cause paint peeling and chipping, building deterioration and encourage pests

Download a PDF copy of HUD’s brochure, “Lead Paint Safety,” here.

From Eggs to Art

Posted on 11 June 2010 | Category: Featured Projects

art_coopBackyard chicken coops might not be a total rarity in the urban landscape these days, especially with people seeking more sustainable food sources.  But back in the 1800s, they were as common as minivans and Starbucks outposts are in the ‘00s.

So when a Get Dwell client purchased a North Shore home dating to 1871, it was perhaps no surprise it came complete with a vintage (and run-down) poultry condo.

As a working artist, the coop didn’t hold appeal to her as a home for chickens. But, with little ones at home who were becoming increasingly interested in the materials and chemicals she used to create her works, it was attractive as an out-of-the-way, secure studio space.

art_coop3Thinking she didn’t need much more than a roof over her head and a little heat in the winter, she contacted Get Dwell about designing and constructing the maximum studio for a minimal budget.

Making the space useable required a close look at the damage time and rot had inflicted on the structure. Space was a priority, so Get Dwell removed an existing wall and added an open ceiling on the saltbox structure to provide the maximum amount of openness.

Lighting being important in art, we found and  installed two windows that matched the existing farmhouse style. They not only provided additional illumination, they provided a good view of the children when they played in the yard. We also installed a hood and an exhaust system, ensuring chemical fumes wouldn’t build up in the small space.

art_coop5The structure had a chicken-feeding window opening onto an alley, which we removed for added security. The walls were then insulated and finished with drywall and we matched interior trim to the existing exterior trim, giving the studio a timeless and cohesive look. Finally, Get Dwell installed radiant floor heat, ensuring the studio is comfortable year-round.

Our client then applied her artistic touch to the decorating, and the final product was exactly what she had hoped for – a private, inspiring retreat just steps from her backdoor.


Lead-Safe Certified

Posted on 11 June 2010 | Category: General

lead2It’s a sobering statistic: Lead poisoning affects more than one million children. If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, hearing problems, headaches and myriad other conditions. And, at high enough concentrations, adults can experience health problems, as well.

The reason behind the high occurrence of lead poisoning is equally sobering: Most people don’t realize how much lead is in their homes. Oftentimes, because of moisture, neglect or during home improvement projects, lead-based paint, which may be several layers down, flakes and peels off. Lead-based paint chips and dust then mix with house dust and build up in window troughs and on floors. Children are exposed when lead in paint chips, dust and soil gets on their hands and toys, which they then put in their mouths.

epaAt Get Dwell, we see potential lead dangers every day, especially in Chicago and the North Shore where many homes predate 1978, when use of lead-based paint was stopped. That’s why Get Dwell Project Managers have completed the Lead Renovator Training Program for Lead Safety under the EPA’s Remodeling, Repair and Painting Rule. In fact, as of April 22, the EPA requires that any firm performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools get certified and follow lead-safe work practices that include:

  • Containing the work area
  • Minimizing dust
  • Cleaning up thoroughly

Get Dwell has always employed lead-safe practices in our work, but our EPA Renovation, Repair and Paint certification training was a good refresher for us and good reminder for you that we never take a safe, healthy worksite for granted. Whether or not lead is a risk, we keep our work contained and always clean up thoroughly before we leave.

If you’d like to know more about the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which includes the Lead-Safe Certification Program, visit