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How to Deal With Asbestos Removal and Other #OldHouseProblems

How to Deal With Asbestos Removal and Other #OldHouseProblems


Renovating historical structures comes with its own set of challenges, like asbestos removal. But our Project House Minden is ready to overcome all difficulties!

Old buildings are full of surprises. Oftentimes, those surprises aren’t of the fun variety. These can include everything from foundation problems and environmental hazards like asbestos removal to pests that have taken up residence. In the case of our Minden, Louisa Project House, there was also a spring welling up into the property!

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
The Villas in progress of asbestos removal, and other hazardous materials. Tarps are unsightly but are part of the lead and mold remediation process. Sara chose to have the buildings remediated at different times so she can work in each building as it’s finished.

When it comes to these unfortunate surprises, owner and blogger Sara McDaniel of Simply Southern Cottage says, “They are inevitable when working with historic structures. I hope for the best but always plan for the worse.”

Luckily, Sara is no stranger to the unexpected. As someone who’s life radically shifted after leaving an established career and moving back home to Louisiana, she’s faced her own share of surprises and allowed them to strengthen her. 

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
Sara added this porch onto her own home because she wanted an outdoor living space. “When the weather is fair, you’ll find me there,” she says. “I can easily spend half the day on the swing, eating meals and working on my laptop.”

That mentality translates well into rehabbing the old buildings of the Villas at Spanish Court. Though termites, surprise springs and having to do asbestos removal try to stymie her, she’s prepared and ready to work with the process, not against it.

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
Sara’s home is full of soul and has a collected, dynamic feeling, “When you get a sign from a big box store, five thousand other people across the nation will also have it,” Sara says. “But when you shop from antiques shops and garage sales, you’ll find special items that you alone will have.” For example, these theater chairs, which she found at an antiques market, are from an old theater in Michigan and are the sort of one-of-a-kind pieces Sara loves. She’ll use this same mentality when decorating the Villas.

Expectations Versus Reality…and Asbestos Removal

Sara is extremely organized while juggling several areas of entrepreneurship at once, from filming an HGTV show to overseeing the Villas’ renovation work. Her organization and firm control of her projects lets her adapt, no matter the circumstance. “My organization is the scaffolding for when things go awry,” Sara says. “And something always will, especially with delays.” 

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
Remediation of lead paint and mold takes about one week. The process begins with experts measuring the levels of the toxic hazards. Over the course of the week, they set up, remediate the hazards and clean up. “Then comes the final reporting to ensure the Villas have a clean bill of health,” Sara says.

Sara learned that the Villas would be inaccessible to her as their environmental hazards were remedied, such as asbestos removal. So she prepared for the delay and figured out ways around the closures. “I had the buildings closed off one at a time,” she says. “That way, I was able to work on the open ones. When the first building was closed off, I took measurements prior to the remediation and had contractors also come and take measurements of the floors, windows and cabinet spaces.”

Thanks to her planning the project has moved forward, even when no one could set foot inside. 

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
When Sara first ventured into interior design, neutral farmhouse style was a big trend. “I leaned into it,” Sara says. Then a friend brought over some chairs to Sara’s home for a photoshoot. “They were so joyful,” Sara says. “I immediately thought, ‘I have to bring color into my home!’”

Lessons, Not Losses

Each unexpected surprise is a learning process, and Sara’s experience teaches her where to find answers. She’s never dealt with a spring welling up through the ground before, so when water made an appearance where it had no business to be, she knew just where to turn. “I go straight to experts,” she says. “I have a good team I use for each project. My team has invested in me, and I’ve invested in them and that’s gotten me through so many difficulties.”

See Also
European farmhouse style kitchen with butcher block island

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
A variety of thrifted pieces adorn Sara’s mantel, including $7 artwork and a rustic wooden box that she got from a garage sale. She also added in some books and topiaries for additional texture and interest. “You’ll notice the whole tableau is kind of off-centered. I love asymmetry. It gives a sense of surprise,” she says.

She highly recommends finding the right people to work with, in every area of life. Her plumber ended up putting a pipe on the spring to catch the water and drain it to the nearby creek, saving the Villas from a watery grave. 

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
During the process of hazardous material remediation, the contractors place tarps over every door and window to make sure the toxic asbestos and lead particles stay inside the building and don’t leak into the outside air. Even though the Villas are still in their decrepit state, locals and tourists alike drive by to see the activity and track the progress. “Everyone is excited, and that excitement is contagious,” Sara says. “We can’t wait to throw open the doors and welcome everyone in.”

By staying organized and treating each surprise as a learning opportunity, Sara artfully navigates an inherently daunting renovation project. “Everything happens for a reason,” she says. “So I trust in the beauty of every circumstance.”

A Story of Asbestos Removal and Renovation
Remediation of lead paint and mold takes about one week. The process begins with experts measuring the levels of the toxic hazards. Over the course of the week, they set up, remediate the hazards and clean up. “Then comes the final reporting to ensure the Villas have a clean bill of health,” Sara says.

Renovation Resources

An old house rescue needs just as many building materials as a new house. Here are some of our sponsors and what they can contribute to Project House Minden’s renovation.

Mosstown brick
Mosstown brick, inquire for price. (800) 277-2745 or cherokeebrick.com.
DIY Ductless Mini-Split AC unit
DIY Ductless Mini-Split AC unit, inquire for price. (270) 366-0457 or mrcool.com.
Adelina comforter set
Adelina comforter set, $180. (855) 396-6100 or lauraashleyusa.com.
Sydney chain hung pendant light
Sydney chain hung pendant light, starting at $322. (800) 407-8784 or barnlight.com.
Traditional wooden shutters
Traditional wooden shutters, starting at $180. (888) 801-3393 or dogberrycollections.com.
Rectangular monolithic entry set
Rectangular monolithic entry set, inquire for price. Visit emtek.com.
Dorset fields natural Neptune rug by Orian Rugs
450644 Dorset fields natural Neptune rug by Orian Rugs, $356. (800) 845-9729 or palmettoliving.com.
183 barn door
183 barn door, inquire for price. Visit woodgraindoors.com.
Autumn at the lake vintage art print
Autumn at the lake vintage art print, starting at $29. (217) 864-1784 or olivebranchfarmhouse.com.

Wish to know how you can get vintage farmhouse style into your own home? Find out here. And don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

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