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Posts Tagged ‘HGTV houses getting totally vandalized’

“Flip or Flop” Flops with a Flippant Attitude on Asbestos

January 22nd, 2016 Sears Homes 7 comments

“Flip or Flop” (HGTV) really flopped on “Breaking Up” (Episode 407), which featured the remodel of a modest 1950s cottage in Torrance, California. The flooring throughout the small home, from stem to stern, was the original 9-inch floor tiles.

Nine-inch floor tiles + 1950s = this possibility: Asbestos.

Had the old tiles been left undisturbed, this would not have been an issue. They were not left undisturbed. They were picked at, busted up, chiseled, chipped and sawed through.

Asbestos, a naturally occuring fibrous mineral, was used in flooring materials from the 1920s to the 1980s (and maybe even beyond). In addition to its fire-resistant qualities, it also made flooring more durable, and substantially increased its longevity. In rooms with minimal foot traffic (such as basements), you can still find 1950s and 60s 9-inch tiles that retain much of their original luster and beauty. Encapsulation on this type of asbestos flooring is easy: Padding and carpet.

Asbestos is not good for your lungs, but it was not without merit in early 20th Century building materials. And I am the last one who’d suggest that we should all run around in a panic about asbestos, however…

It’d be prudent to show some respect for this mineral that can wreak such havoc with human lungs.

Throughout the 30-minute Flip or Flop program, not one word was spoken about testing the flooring for asbestos.

Not one word.

This is Torrance, California, which has two asbestos-testing labs less than three miles away. For a fee (less than $50), labs will examine a piece of floor tile using “polarized light microscopy” or PLM. Results are usually returned in less than 24 hours.

Perhaps the tiles had been tested off camera and it was determined that no asbestos was present in the tile or the mastic. If so, that should have at least been mentioned and discussed - if only in passing.

It was reckless and irresponsible to show this flooring without providing any mention at all about the age (1950s) and the size (9-inch tiles) and the black mastic being among the MOST likely flooring materials to have asbestos content. That means that this material should have been treated as PACM (Presumed Asbestos Containing Material).

Shame on HGTV.

To learn more about responsibly (and economically) mitigating asbestos risks in your own home, click here.

Here’s a good site that explains why you shouldn’t freak out when you find asbetsos.

And my favorite book on the topic is this one - “Haunted Housing: How Toxic Scare Stories are Spooking the Public Out of House and Home.”

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Episode #407 featured this small cottage in Torrance.

Episode #407 featured this small cottage in Torrance.

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Hosts

In this episode, the shows' hosts (Tarek and Christina) talked with their contractor (Israel) at length about the best way to correct the flooring problems, and yet there was no mention of the potential health risks.

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The 1950s floors

Throughout the house, the original 1950s 9-inch floor tiles were still in place.

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In

Intact floor tiles present no health hazard. It's when they become "friable" that the problem arises. For testing, you only need a small piece (1-inch), and results are usually returned in less than 24 hours.

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I literally winced when I saw an expert picking at the edges of the tiles.

I literally winced when I saw an "expert" picking at the edges of the tiles. This is a beautiful example of what you do NOT want to do with these tiles. In the 1950s and 60s, asbestos-based mastic was also prevalent, so it's not just the tiles that present a health risk, but the glue as well.

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This

Yes, he's sawing through the tiles and mastic. If you look to the right of this image, you can see it fades out a bit. That's a cloud of dust behind these two guys. And you see they're all wearing nuisance masks? If this was asbestos, those masks would be wholly inadequate. The tiny asbestos fibers pass right through this type of face mask.

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Look closely, and youll see that the mastic under the tile appears to be black .

The mastic under the tile appears to be black, which is indicative of asbestos content. When testing these materials, both the tile and the glue would be suspect.

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Another great shot

And when not using saws, they used jackhammers and sledge hammers.

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We

In the 1950s and 60s, these tiles were all the rage.

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The

It was the infusion of "Vitamin A" that gave these tiles their strength and longevity.

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Kitch

This floor that looked so snappy in 1959 would be a homeowner's headache today.

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This graphic

This graphic from Patagon Inspects (www.patagoninspects.com) shows that the mid-century flooring material is more likely to be at risk of containing asbestos.

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Not very responsible reporting.

"Flip or Flop" gets an "F" for being so flippant.

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To learn more about responsibly (and economically) mitigating asbestos risks in your own home, click here.

Here’s a good site that explains why you shouldn’t freak out when you find asbetsos.

And my favorite book on the topic is this one - Haunted Housing: How Toxic Scare Stories are Spooking the Public Out of House and Home.

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“Thou Shalt Not Destroy Good Old Work”

December 18th, 2015 Sears Homes 5 comments

A few years ago, my friend Bill Inge reminded me of this “First Commandment” of old house preservation:  “Thou shalt not destroy good old work.”

It’s so succinct and so accurate and most of all, so vital. And it makes good sense.

Unfortunately, it’s the diametrical opposite of the position taken on most of the programs on HGTV.

Or as my friend Mark said: “HGTV - Houses Getting Totally Vandalized.”

If you’re planning to buy an old house so that you can rip out every single thing that makes it unique and special and historic and charming, WHY buy an old house?

Please, rather than destroying the charm of an old house and sending all that debris to a landfill*, just do everyone a favor and buy that 12-year-old McMansion in suburbia. No one cares if you decide to “re-beige the bathroom” or rip out the black granite countertops and replace them with concrete countertops. Or vice versa.

Because of the old-house violence that regularly occurs on HGTV, I can no longer watch these shows. However, due to a recent bout of the flu, I was stuck at home in front of the TV, feeling immeasurably sorry for myself and I happened upon an episode of Property Brothers.

This particular episode featured the home of Tory and Darren (Episode 2, Season 5), and the remodeling of several rooms in this late 1920s New England Colonial.

There was so much wrong with what they did, but the remodel that set my teeth on edge was the downstairs bathroom. The existing bathroom featured a porcelain-enamel double-apron tub, vintage  toilet with wall-hung tank and original basket-weave tile floor with complementing wainscoting. It all appeared to be well-maintained and in beautiful shape (no cracks, chips, etc).

The tile floor and walls in that 1920s house were “thick set” or placed in a mortar bed that was 2-4″ deep. The end result is an incredibly strong tile job that (with proper care) will last for a very long time.

I could write for days on the many reasons I loathe HGTV, but another reason is this: It is the worst kind of materialism. It heavily promotes the idea that you must always have the latest, shiniest, brightest, fanciest and newest bauble. If something has an imperfection, then it’s “dirty and tired” and must be removed and put into the waste stream. HGVT breeds a need that nothing in your home will ever be good enough, unless it’s shiny and new.

No longer are we trying to keep up with the Jones’ family next door; now we’re trying to keep up with the Hollywood elite and their ilk. It’s a perfect recipe for spiritual and emotional and financial disaster.

And this insatiable desire for “shiny” is also destroying the unique features of old houses across America.

As this article from the UK states, “The obsessive modernising of old houses is one of the great vandalisms of our time.”

We need to keep our focus on the First Commandment of Preservation: Thou Shalt Not Destroy Good Old Work.

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*Up to 40% of all debris in landfills is construction debris. These same people who religiously recycle every scrap of paper show no compunction in sending tons of material to overburdened landfills. It’s despicable.

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Project was at this house

Recently, "Property Brothers" featured the remodeling of several rooms inside this spacious two-story Colonial, somewhere in New England.

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Wnetwork photo

Several rooms were remodeled, but the destruction of this vintage 1920s first-floor bathroom was the most painful part of the progam. Photo originally appeared at Wnetwork.com.

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Another view

A screen shot from the program shows the vintage toilet, wall-hung tank and double-apron tub. Note the classic basket-weave tile floor, set in several inches of concrete.

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Basket weave and severe storms

Yes, it takes a jackhammer to bust up that concrete. And the destruction of this double-apron tub makes me crazy. These tubs are hard to find, and the destruction shown here (where the porcelain was chipped off the edge) was probably caused by a few blows from a sledge-hammer. At the very least, this tub could have been salvaged. At the very least.

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Jackhammer to get out the cement

During extreme weather, homeowners are often advised to seek refuge in their bathroom. Part of the reason for this are these thick-set mortar and tile walls. An early 20th Century bathroom is a room with concrete walls, and will offer more protection than other rooms in the house. It pains me greatly to see this "good old work" destroyed.

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house

When you're done destroying 4" of mortar, this is what's left.

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Teris beige bathroom

This is such an abhorrent waste.

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Removed after being trashed

Having completely trashed the double-apron tub, they're now going to remove it. As I said above, there's no reason on earth they didn't - at the very least - salvage the tub.

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What do they have when theyre done?

And for what? So they could put up some composite wood walls and an MDF vanity and engineered wood floor? These materials have a 20-30 year lifespan (at best), and then they'll have to be replaced. More garbage for the waste stream. Photo originally appeared at Wnetwork.com.

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But this

They had timeless elegance and beauty. And they threw it right into the trash.

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Up to 40% of all debris in landfills is construction debris. These same people who religiously recycle every scrap of paper show no compunction in sending tons of material to overburdened landfills. It’s despicable.

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