Only Highly Qualified Professionals Should Handle Mold and Water Problems

  • Written by Craig Hawkins, EnviroShield

Checking qualifications isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind when you or a loved one could be experiencing serious health problems as a result of poor indoor air quality.  Unfortunately, indoor air quality companies in most of the country are not regulated, according to the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA).  Therefore, the membership-based organization formed to promote uniform standards, procedures and protocols believes it’s important to use a qualified professional.

Here’s the good news: It’s easy to ensure that only qualified individuals and firms deal with these complex problems.  The IAQA is the largest organization of trades and professionals dealing with these issues.  They deliver the industry’s most prestigious and respected IAQ and mold training programs.

As a proud IAQA member since the early 2000’s, Enviroshield has earned the designations of Certified Mold Remediation Specialist, Certified Residential Mold Inspector and Certified Indoor Environmentalist. We engage in continuing education to maintain our certifications and remain current on the latest technologies and best practices.

During the recent annual convention in January, we were briefed on the exciting news regarding a new machine to analyze mold spores, their genus and species, on-site versus in the lab.  This is a huge issue facing the industry.  Past experience shows that results can vary greatly depending on the lab.  One in study, 10 labs that were provided identical mold samples returned 10 different results.  The machine would eliminate any subjective issues to help identify specific molds related to health issues.  It’s expected to be operational within the next couple of years.

Problems with indoor air quality in our homes and buildings can result in all sorts of issues, including lost productivity and decreased property values.  The Enviroshield team can fully investigate, identify and/or mitigate the total problem according to recognized industry standards and guidelines. For more information, visit

What Every Homeowner Should Know About Lead Paint

  • Written by Nip Tuck Remodeling

Lead-Safe_LogoIf you are considering a remodel and own a home built prior to 1978, this article is for you. Federal regulations pertaining to lead-based paint have been in place since 2010 and can affect the smallest of home remodeling projects – even replacing one window.

The Background

As many consumers already know, lead was added to paint for a number of years – up until 1978, when it was officially banned from residential construction. However, before then lead paint was used in more than 38 million homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Since April 2010, remodelers must be lead-paint certified and follow specific guidelines to prevent lead contamination. Such projects include any repair, renovation and/or painting project that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978. The list of contractors that this affects is extensive. Besides remodelers and carpenters, other trades include plumbers, heating and air conditioning contractors, painters and window installers, just to name a few.

If you are a homeowner of a home built prior to 1978, it is important that you select a remodeler who is trained and certified in lead-safe practices.  Sure, if lead is detected in your home, it is more expensive to work with a certified remodeler, but don’t cut corners by working with a contractor who doesn’t have the proper training.

Lead Paint Dangers

The remodeling process disturbs the lead paint  leaving behind dust from sanding, which can be breathed in, and paint splinters and chips that a small child or pet could ingest. In young children, lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, hearing loss and behavior problems. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Pregnant women run the risk of passing the poison on to their unborn children.

What Are Lead-Safe Work Practices?

The EPA offers a free brochure on its website called “Renovate Right” that provides guidance to homeowners and contractors about the safe removal of lead paint. Any contractor should follow specific work practices, including these three simple procedures:

1. Contain the work area. The first step to creating a lead-safe work area is to contain the area that is being disturbed. This involves sealing off the area by using heavy-duty plastic and tape — everything from doors to vents to the floor and furniture will all be covered in plastic. It may look like a bit of a contamination area you see in movies, but it is important to keep the dust and debris in one zone of your home and not airborne or tracked elsewhere.

2. Minimize dust. Although your remodeler can’t eliminate the dust created from a home improvement project, paint removal methods do exist that create less dust than others, such as using water to mist areas before sanding or scraping. Contractors will also attach a HEPA filter vacuum to their power tools.

3. Scrupulous cleanup. Once the work is completed and before taking down the plastic that isolates the work area from the rest of the home, the area will be meticulously cleaned using a HEPA vacuum on all surfaces, followed by wet mopping.

Taking these steps ensures that all the lead particles have been removed and your family is safe from the harmful effects of lead. To get your lead-safe certified guide to renovating right, visit

Nip Tuck Remodeling is located in Woodinville and is a Certified Renovation Contractor specializing in kitchen and bathroom renovations. We can be contacted at (425) 681-7668 or

Creating a Color Explosion with Annuals

  • Written by Marianne Binetti, for Molbak’s
Calibrachoas, mini petunias, are spectacular at adding waves of bright color to the garden, with blooms lasting several months.
Spring is the time of year when the earth blooms and color fills the landscape. We are lucky enough to garden in Western Washington with a mild climate that allows bountiful blooms and vivid color almost year round. If you want to color your world with more beauty for less money, invest in some fast-growing annual plants and dig in. Annuals may only live one year but they party hearty and live life in the fast lane  —  and a colorful life is much more exciting.

Color Families for Soothing Compositions

First, choose a favorite focal point plant or your favorite color family. Now, build a color theme using different blooming plants all with the same hue. You could use all pinks that range from the pale pearl of impatiens to the vivid intensity of fuchsias. Or try grouping plants with flowers or foliage within the purple and burgundy color palette. Royal purple verbenas, lavender lobelia and wine colored phlox make a trio of rich colors.

Planting Recipe for a Sunshine Container of Citrus Colors

Want more sunshine? Pot up this combo from the orange and yellow color family.

The focal point plant or thriller in the center of the pot: Canna Tropicanna — big, bold, yellow, green and orange leaves on a tall, tropical-looking plant. In a smaller pot use tall growing yellow marigolds or golden coreopsis.

The Fillers: Brightly colored begonias come in sunset colors and you can also find impatiens, geraniums and verbena that bloom in shades that range from fiery orange to lemon yellow.

The Spillers: Use the yellow foliage of creeping jenny to spill over the edge of the pot or the bi-colored blooms of heat-loving lantana for more floral punch.

When you stick with the colors of yellow and orange you’re sure to have a summer of warm memories.

Color Contrasts to Wake up the Landscape

A monochromatic color theme is both beautiful and soothing to the eye.
Add some drama or garden opera with shocking color contrasts. Play up the boldness of chocolate foliage with white or silver contrasts. Contrasting colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel will shout out loud like a drama mama and really create a scene.

Planting Recipe for a Backyard Patio Bed: Purple and Gold can really be Bold

The focal point or thriller plant in the center of the pot: Spiky cordylines now come in rich purple and reds to provide a dramatic background for the shorter plants.

The fillers: Use vivid gold blooms of a biden “Goldilocks Rocks” or mini marigold plants. The filler plants provide the vivid color contrast with the thriller plant.

Lime green could also be a bold contrast to deep purple. There are new mini petunias called Calibrachoa that have bi-colored blooms of contrasting colors. “Pretty Much Picasso” is a new petunia hybrid with vivid purple blooms outlined with lime green. This plant is spectacular due to great color contrasts. Many coleus plants also have colorful contrasts spilled all over their leaves like a painter’s palette.

The Spillers: Add a groundcover plant  to spill from the sides of a pot. For example the lime green “Sweet Caroline” sweet potato vine would make a great contrast to the deep purple tones. If you use petunias with bi-colored blooms the solid color of a foliage plant provides a stunning backdrop for the big show.

Planting more flowers is a gift to the neighborhood, the bees and butterflies and your beauty-seeking soul.

ASK Christian: Woodinville-Based EnviroShield Takes Lead Role to Rescue Foreclosed Homes

  • Written by Craig Hawkins, EnviroShield

We’ve all read the stories regarding the often dilapidated conditions of a foreclosed home abandoned by its owners and now in the hands of a bank. The issues range from extensive water and mold damage to complete remodels of the interior and exterior of the home, including new roof, paint, carpet, cabinets, light fixtures, etc.

As a member of their foreclosure team, Wells Fargo relies on EnviroShield lead supervisor Christian Morales and his team to prepare homes for resale. We asked Christian to share some experiences from the field.

Question:  What is the toughest part of running these jobs?

Christian:  The coordination between vendors can be intense to meet tight timelines.  In some cases, we have to accomplish several projects at once. It’s not uncommon for our teams to be working to remove mold and water damage while other crew members are painting and installing floors. At the same time other companies are cleaning gutters and windows.

Question:  Tell us about the work you and the teams are doing.

Christian: In addition to our core water and mold remediation, we are also handling home improvements.  During the course of a day, I travel alone or with teams to neighborhoods in Bellevue, Seattle and Des Moines.  One home experienced significant water damage from a leaking water heater in the basement.  We removed carpet padding and wet drywall, dried out the area and installed new materials. There are also mold issues in 3 areas that we are addressing.  Another home needs some general work.  A third home has mold issues in the attic.

Question: What is the hardest physical part of your job?

Christian: There are times when we have to dig out a tunnel to work in a crawl space.  Even though I’m not claustrophobic, those tight spaces can be kind of scary.  In the summer months we can often spend an entire day on our hands and knees sanding a surface by hand.  It gets pretty warm some days.

Craig Hawkins and his team at Enviroshield have more than 20 years of experience in water damage and mold remediation.  For more information visit

Baby Boomers Remodeling to Stay in the Family Home

  • Written by April Bettinger, owner of Nip Tuck Remodeling

niptukNo one wants to think about becoming disabled or too old to safely stay in their own home. Images of sterile nursing homes abound, with wide linoleum hallways, wheelchair ramps and stainless-steel grab bars come to mind.

According to Baby Boomer Magazine, 76 million Americans are reaching the age of retirement. The vast majority (75 percent according to AARP) would prefer to Age-In-Place so that they can continue to live in their own home or community, and many may be considering bringing a parent home to live with them.

In today’s market, professional remodelers and designers can utilize “Universal Design” principles to incorporate beautiful designs that accommodate everyone’s accessibility needs.

If you are considering a remodel, one of the first questions I ask my clients is “what are your intentions with the home?” Remodeling should be considered something you do to maintain your home and keep in line with how you live within the space. If your answer is that this is my last home, you’ll want to consider the following principals to incorporate into your plan:

1. The bathroom is one of the main areas for renovation. Replace the tub with a barrier free shower that creates a comfortable bathing experience. Europeans have incorporated these types of enclosures for years. Today’s manufacturers are producing many options to have a stylish shower that is moderately priced and simpler to install.

2. Grab bars come in many forms and finishes. In fact, often times you may even replace a standard towel bar with one of these options for added stability and safety.

3. Is there a bedroom or room that can be re-purposed on the main floor of the home? 4. Assess doorways and entrances to the home. You will want to have a minimum of 32” and preferred 36” clearance for doorways. Lastly, consider the path to a vehicle. Is there a level path, ramp or sidewalk?

5. Replace door hardware and sink fixtures with lever handles for ease of use.

6. Take notice of the lighting. Entrances, hallways and work areas should be well lit.

7. Assess the kitchen and its ability to allow access.

By incorporating Universal Design into your remodeling project, you can be sure that you will enjoy your space today and in the future. Think about it: Does the space you occupy allow you to recuperate at home or will you have to find alternate arrangements?

April Bettinger, owner of Nip Tuck Remodeling is a CAPS certified professional (Certified Ageing In Place).