SUPERIOR, Colo. (CBS4) – In yet another blow for Marshall Fire survivors, some restoration companies are placing liens on people’s homes who dispute the quality of the clean-up.
The smoke and ash created by the fire contained lots of toxins – from asbestos to heavy metals – and many homeowners like Jen Kaaoush have hired a restoration company to de-contaminate their homes.

While her house was spared, it sustained heavy smoke and soot damage.

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“After a few days, the smoke smell went away and we thought, ‘okay, it’s going to be fine.’ I don’t think we had any idea what we were in for to remediate a home properly.”

She would learn the hard way. Kaaoush says about 15 workers from a restoration company spent three days cleaning her house, then she, her husband and daughter – who has asthma – moved back in.

“Within maybe a month, we started to get sick,” she said.

Her insurance company sent an environmental hygienist to run tests. She says the hygienist found that the house was still contaminated.

“Turns out a lot of the ways they did things were not the way to do things to remediate a home with smoke damage.”

When she received a bill for nearly $34,000. She refused to pay it. The company, she says, promised to send pictures as proof of the work, but instead sent a courier.

“I got a knock at the door and was served a mechanics lien on our property.”

The manager of the company disputes the claims, but says he is working with Kaaoush to make it right. In Colorado, when there is a contract dispute over work on a property, a company has two options – go to court to try to collect from the individual or put a lien on the property to collect when its sold or refinanced.

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State Rep. Mike Weissman says gather research on the issue to see if there is a better way to resolve the disputes, but any potential changes won’t come until next legislative session.

Kaaoush and her husband are now doing remediation themselves. She’s also started a fire survivors group called Superior Rising.

“Everybody is fighting these individual battles with insurance and contractors so I’m hoping the more we share with each other the more strength we have to advocate for our own needs as a community.”

She also hopes the group will be able to help others who will one day be in the same situation.

“Superior Rising doing best to capture every hurdle so can playbook for whoever is going to go through this because people are going to go through this more.”

Shaun Boyd