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Design Inspirations  Green Talk
            
 

 

Tuesday
Jan102017

ADU's and the Future of Seattle

Heard of the housing crisis in Seattle?  Big employers such as Amazon have been bringing in massive amounts of people into the Seattle area, more than the many new condos can handle.   The cost to rent a one bed room apartment in the city averages $1917.00 month.  The cost to purchase a house has increased 16.7% over the last 12 months.  I was told by a realtor that many home owners are reluctant to sell, even at the high prices and even when they want to downsize, because ‘they are afraid they will not find another place to live.’ (in Seattle of course)

SEATTLE ENCOURAGING mother in laws – After decades of policing illegal mother in law apartments, the city of Seattle decided that adding rental units in existing housing plots is one of the only places left to densify the city. 

Some TYPES of ‘legal’ living spaces that you can add to your home:

a)      ADU is Accessory Dwelling Unit.  This is an independent home with kitchen, bathroom(s) separate electrical panel and separate secure entrance.  This is attached to the existing home and is separated by a fire rated wall

b)      DADU (or a backyard Cottage) is the same except it is detached from your home, often at the far 20’ setback of your lot.  The average size of most ADU/DADUs is 632 sf.  

REACTIONS - There are several reactions to these types of ‘improvements.’  There is the neighbor who does not want ‘transient’ people in the neighborhood taking up parking spaces and having loud parties.  And there is the home owner who has concerns about giving up some privacy in the shared yard and walkways.  Both are valid concerns.  However, an ADU or DADU can supplement a home owner’s income making it easier to pay the mortgage and increasing property taxes.  It can be a retirement nest egg of continuing income. It can also provide a place for someone to live in the city that they work; offering a place to rent.  It can also reduce traffic – the theory being that if people can walk to take mass transit to work, they will not drive, thus decreasing the amount of cars on the road.

RESTRICTIONS – currently the most contested regulations have to do with providing parking and owner occupation both of which have had recent changes.  One off street parking space is required to be provided EXCEPT in designated urban villages and urban centers.  You may be granted a parking waiver if the site’s topography or location of the structure makes it an undue burden.  Owner occupancy is required for at least 6 months of the year and the owner occupant must have at least 50% ownership. HOWEVER, the owner may SUBMIT EVIDENCE to obtain a waiver of this requirement for up to three years for job relocation, illness or similar reasons not to occupy the home.

FINANCING – typically a home owner would need to refinance their existing home to obtain the funds to build an ADU/DADU.  Costs vary but there is a consensus that to build a new adu/dadu structure would cost around $200,000.  How long do you need to rent the space to break even? Eight ½ years?  LET’S RETHINK THIS…

Friday
Jul292016

Where to place water filtering/ionizing systems into an existing home?

Kitchen sinks and bar sinks are the most popular locations.  But will it fit in those locations?First of all, it is important to point out that the ‘faucet’ part of the system fits into any regular faucet hole in your counter.  There are two things to look for: 1) an available faucet hole, or an area available by a sink to create a new faucet hole. 2) space in sink cabinet for the filtering/ionization system.

Faucet holes can be made available by a) removing an existing faucet b) changing the existing faucet that has the spout and handle in separate holes to a newer faucet that has the handle attached to the spout c) removing a soap dispenser d) removing an existing filtered water faucet e) changing the existing faucet that has a separate hole for the spray f) drilling a new hole

The space needed in the sink cabinet is 5 1/2” wide x 14 1/8” long x 14” high. 

A typical sink cabinet has the sink and plumbing located in the center of the cabinet, leaving the sides as potential areas to place this system.  There may be a garbage disposal that is occupying space in the sink cabinet.  Installation of the system is EASY with the clear instructions provided.Box fits in sink cabinet  

Retail price is $4995.00 (call me for discounted pricing.)  Considering that bottled 9.0 alkaline water sells for $3.00 bottle and massages cost around $95 (are you buying large bottled water and carrying it home?) and that this system successfully filters out all contaminants AND has the option of producing Alkaline water, this investment is well worth the money spent.  This is a household ‘appliance’ that has far reaching health benefits for your entire family.

Wednesday
Jun222016

Truths behind the Lies

Lately I feel I have been living a dream.  A dream where water fountains in schools are safe, family members do not steal from each other, government regulations are enacted to protect you, politicians are as honest as they proclaim and Bill Cosby is the ideal father figure.  Boy, have I had a wakeup call – and so has our country.

Last month I heard on the news that Tacoma schools found lead in the drinking fountains.  Seattle Public Utilities immediately said that there was nothing wrong with Seattle drinking water ‘but that all residents should run their water for two minutes before drinking it JUST IN CASE’ (emphasis added).  It turns out that the ‘gooseneck’ fittings are corroding, where there are gooseneck fittings there is lead. 

The TRUTH is, there are many opportunities for LEAD to enter your drinking water and each home/building is unique in its potential liabilities.  Has anyone suggested that it may be in the publics self-interest to test their water at each faucet?  NO, that would cost too much money and the public outcry when they found out how many of their faucets produced water with lead in it would be crazy.  Politicians may lose their jobs!  Let me ask, how many of you run your water 2 minutes before drinking it?

The TRUTH is, that in 1978 the EPA determined the Lead in the paint was extremely dangerous and made it illegal to sell (after 1978).  But did anyone TELL the PUBLIC that every time you hammered a nail into the wall to hang a picture you were exposing yourself and your family to lead poisoning?  (Remember even the smallest minute amount of dust with lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage in children).   NO, the government waited until 2010, 32 years, to regulate/protect the public from remodeling produced lead poisoning.  Have you hung a picture up in your home in the last 32 years?

The TRUTH is that I do not believe anyone any more, and that is a very sad place to be.  Truthfully, Christine

Tuesday
Apr122016

Lead Solutions

What are we doing about LEAD in our homes?  These are the solutions that I am incorporating into my home and into the homes of my clients:

SAFE Drinking Water:  The testing of Drinking water is now a standard benefit of every kitchen and bath design that I work on.

Alkaline Water for HealthHEALTHY Drinking Water:  I have researched and obtained (for my clients) RETTIN Tyent Ionized Water Filters which remove 100% of all LEAD and mercury in the water as well as pesticides, VOC's semi-VOC's, herbicide, disinfectants and non-metallic contaminants, and pharmaceutical contaminants.  This Ionizer has the ability to create Alkaline water (up to 10.0 ph) which has extreme health benefits. It can also create Acid water used for disinfecting and cleaning.  All of this is done through electricity, there are no additives involved.  We are installing these at kitchen sinks and bar sinks; anywhere you would go for drinking water.

LEAD Pipes and Solder:  As we design/remodel, we put into action replacing all lead pipes and all copper pipes that used lead solder.

LEAD in our paint:  IT IS THE LAW (Toxic Substances Control Act section 402(c)(3)), that all firms working in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be certified and use lead-safe work practices during renovations.  I am personally trained and certified, and my company, Christine Suzuki Installations Inc is certified as well.  (since 2010)  The intent of this specific training is to contain any chips of paint and lead DUST.  Dust is generally a healthy hazard even if it is not poisonous (as in lead.)  So our SUPER SAFE DUST FREE PRACTICES are generally very good for your family's health safety and welfare.

Please contact me if you have any concerns about the LEAD in your home, we are committed to providing healthy non toxic interiors to all of our friends family and customers.

Namaste, Christine

Friday
Mar252016

Politics Poisoning & Prevention 

Lead in your Home

We’ve known the health effects of lead poisoning for a long time and now know that there is NO safe threshold for lead exposure.  Because of political pressure, many countries, cities and states have allowed and sometimes mandated that lead pipes be utilized for water distribution, that lead be added into gasoline, and have allowed lead based paints into homes.  These products/installations are now illegal. HOWEVER, these lead pipes, lead solder connecting copper pipes, and lead based paints are STILL in our homes, potentially poisoning ourselves, our children and grandchildren.  The information on lead poisoning is so vast that I am presenting only statements and quotations in a timeline fashion with references for your research.

Lead poisoning (also known as plumbism, colica pictorum, saturnism or painter’s colic) first written about by the Egyptians is said to have contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire.  *6

1850 Scientists began fingering water pipes as the source of a growing number of lead poisoning cases. *9

1866 New York Herald published the article “The Dangers of Lead Pipes” #9

1900-1920 Homes built in this period usually have lead based pipes *1

1910-20 When municipalities began banning the use of lead pipes in the 1910s and 1920s, other sources of lead poisoning – paint, for example – also came under scrutiny.  In response, the lead industry fought back.  The National Lead Company ran ads proclaiming that ‘lead helps to guard your health’ *9

1920 Environmental pollution by lead caused by the introduction of tetraethyl lead in gasoline became an alarming public health problem.  The use became restricted in the 1980’s:  its effects on blood lead levels are now evident. *6

1921 the International Labour Conference organized a meeting in Geneva to adopt the White Lead Convention.  The convention led to the prohibition of the use of white lead in indoor painting in the several countries…Sweden and Czechoslovakia…Austria, Poland and Spain…Finland and Norway. In the United States, the Lead Industries Association succeeded in blocking the signing of the ILO convention. *6 

1921 Surgeon General convened a meeting when 8 workers died in straitjackets from dramatic central nervous system involvement from tetraethyl lead poisoning. *6

1928 To maintain sales of lead pipe, the LIA (Lead Industry Association) lobbied the government at all levels and targeted the people who both designed and installed water distribution systems with outreach and educational material and other resources.  The association carried on its promotional campaign into the 1970’s *10

1928 LIA’s Plumbing Promotion Program succeeded in Massachusetts where bans on certain kinds of lead pipe were lifted, in Pennsylvania lead pipe was formally required by the plumbing code to the exclusion of alternativesThe LIA even managed to have lead pipes inserted into regulations governing federal construction projects, as well as building codes and building specifications. *9

1950 Federal guidelines and specifications sanctioned lead pipes into the 1950s

1920-1965 Homes built in 1920-1965 generally have galvanized plumbing *1

1960 when artificial softening of drinking water began,   lead began to dissolve from the pipes.*6

1965-1980 These homes are considered risky if they were built between 1965 and 1980 when copper pipes and lead-based solder were common place in plumbing *1

1970 LIA (Lead Industry Association) lobbied the government at all levels into the 1970s. *10

1970 Only four US states and 10 municipalities had laws or ordinances prohibiting indoor use of lead paint.  In 1970 it was estimated that the annual incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic lead poisoning in the U.S was as high as 240,000 cases.*6

1970-1980 National model plumbing codes APPROVED LEAD into the 1970s and 1980s and most water systems based their regulations on those codes.  During this time period there were more than 22 million new homes built in the United States *1  The primary source for lead in most drinking water sources is the piping used within a distribution system or the household plumbing…YOUR household plumbing may be the cause for lead in your drinking water.*4

1978 World Health Organization convened an expert meeting to scrutinize the present knowledge on lead, mercury and cadmium, creating a booklet called “Recommended Health-Based Limits in Occupational Exposure to Heavy Metals.”  The WHO officers who were involved in editing the document have privately stated that industry representatives lobbied heavily, both in the WHO and in the then CEC Health Protectorate, to prevent the publication.  These activities delayed the publication of the report and degraded it to a “technical report.” *6

1978 Federal government banned the use of lead based paint. 

1980 Seattle banned lead-based plumbing materials *1

1980 Nearly all homes built prior to the 1980s still have lead solder connecting copper pipes. *8

1984 EPA conducted a survey of 153 public water systems finding that 73% had installed lead service lines (a service line is the pipe from the street to your house) *10

1985 King County banned lead-based plumbing materials *1

1986 passage of Safe Drinking Water Act prohibited installation of lead water pipes.

1987 Washington State banned lead-based plumbing materials*1

1990 In the US practically no leaded gasoline was sold after 1990. *6

1990 Testing of children with lead poisoning showed a decrease in IQ of 6 points leading some scientists to suggest that slipping school performance in the US to a large extent can be attributed to past subclinical childhood lead poisoning. *6

1997 Seattle Public Utilities random sampling found 90% of houses came back with lead levels at nearly 20ppb

1997 CDC  estimates that as many as 5% of all American children suffer from subclinical lead poisoning. *7

2001 Seattle began adding soda ash meant to reduce most of the lead leaching from problem pipes. *1

2003 20% of all lead exposure in young children comes from drinking water *7

2004 Seattle Public Schools find high levels of lead in the drinking fountains *1

2004 Plumbing in many city homes poses lead risk.  *1

2004 EPA’s standard for lead contamination of drinking water is ZERO.*1   There is NO safe level for lead exposure *4   Standard for immediate action is 15 ppb. *1

2010 EPA RRP (Renovation Repair & Painting) ruling came into effect penalizing residential contractors up to $35,000 per incident if work done on homes older than 1978 is not within the RRP guidelines.  This ruling is to attempt to protect residents, owners, and workers from lead poisoning from lead based paint.  A minute amount of lead dust can cause lead poisoning. EG, Nailing a picture hanger into the wall could cause lead poisoning.

2014 PRIOR to 2014 the legal definition for “lead free” was plumbing fixtures with a lead content of less than 8%.  In 2014, the term was redefined to include only fixtures with a lead content of .25% and newly installed fixtures must use the “lead free” materials, but this did not apply to fixtures currently in use. *4

2016 EPA considering a more ‘proactive approach’ to replacing lead pipes. *2

2016 Some major US cities still have 100 percent lead piping bringing water from the utilities to homes and businesses. *8

2016  Hundreds of tons of the lead in paint that covered the walls of houses, apartment buildings and workplaces across the United States remains in place almost four decades later…*2

2016 EPA officials addressing Plumbing Manufacturers International said that the EPA has reason to believe that faucets are being imported into the U.S. that contain lead in excess of the SDWA requirements of 11 parts per billion. *8

It is a shame if action is not taken when all the ingredients for successful prevention exist.  *6

Be Safe, Christine

*1 Candace Heckman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter

*2 Arthur Delaney Huffpost

*3 Wikipedia

*4 Brian Oram PG, Special report #3, http://www.water-research.net/index.php/lead

*5 Alexandra Ossola

*6 Sven Hernberg, MD PHD

*7 Werner Troesken & Patricia E Beeson

*8 PMI Plumbing Manufacturers International https://www.safeplumbing.org/health-safety/lead-in-plumbing

*9 Stephen Mihm smihm1@bloomberg.net

*10 Richard Rabin, MSPH  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2509614/