LITTLETON, Colo. – A Littleton family is losing almost everything they own because their kitchen remodel ended with a major asbestos spill, contaminating their entire house and putting their two young children at risk.
"We were starting a kitchen renovation," said Natasha Mitchell. “And we posted on Facebook we wanted someone to remove popcorn ceiling that had a high probability of having asbestos.”
She and her husband, Chris, recently bought a home built in 1972, and they wanted to scrape the dated popcorn ceilings.
"When he came out, he was really polite," said Natasha, who hired a lower-priced handyman, she said. But when he finished the work, Natasha 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."
She brought in a company to test the home, and a report shows they found asbestos everywhere, calling it “a major asbestos spill.” The cleanup estimates she received ranged from $20,000 to $30,000, and anything inside the home that is not a hard surface 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.”
What’s worse, they said, their two children spent one night in the home before they realized the risk and moved in with a family member.
The handyman, Jim Johnson of Jim’s Renovations, tells Denver7 he did everything by the book and has handled asbestos for years.
“They started remodeling the kitchen on their own before I got there,” he said via telephone, stating the spill potentially happened before he started working on the home.
But asbestos abatement experts say anyone removing asbestos in Colorado is legally required to be certified by the state, and homeowners should check that.
"People are really unaware of what asbestos is,” said Eric Delgado, with Colorado Hazardous Environmental, who is the Project Manager for the cleanup at the Mitchell’s house. “They see something that looks like it could be easily removed and they don't really think about the hazard it has."
For the Mitchells, replacing almost everything is financially overwhelming. Their homeowner’s insurance isn’t covering the damage because they say it was a faulty contractor.
Now, they just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
"So, the big thing is it's an expensive process to do it properly,” said Natasha. “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.”