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Mold Makes an Appearance In House Under Construction

By Barry Stone
Saturday, February 5, 2005; Page F17

Q DEAR BARRY: We have a house under construction and we're concerned about mold that is growing on the sheetrock in several rooms. We want to know how this should be treated and if it is likely that it is on the back of the sheetrock, too. -- Cheryl

ADEAR CHERYL: If you have mold in a new building, you need to do more than treat the existing infection. The underlying issue is moisture, which will continue to create mold unless evaluated and corrected.

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Ask the Inspector Archive

You need two experts to conduct an in-depth, coordinated evaluation: First, the moisture source should be determined. It could be a matter of faulty ground drainage, a plumbing leak, inadequate ventilation of the foundation crawlspace, or who-knows-what.

Then you need a mold expert to survey the building in detail to determine the types of mold involved and how to eradicate them, as well as to work with the contractors who are addressing the moisture source.

Don't let anyone minimize the importance of this condition. Mold and the underlying moisture problems that cause mold can pose serious consequences, including health concerns, liability, repair costs, marketability of the property, and your ability to obtaining homeowners insurance.

Your builder should give priority to this situation before the house is completed.

DEAR BARRY: Our two-year-old windows have developed condensation between the dual panes. The contractor who installed them says that the warranty is voided because the yard sprinklers sprayed them. He claims that any window seal that is hit by a sprinkler long enough will eventually leak. Is this true? If so, why don't they tell people this before the windows are installed? -- Pat

DEAR PAT: It is not true that dual pane window seals always leak if exposed to sprinklers. If such were the case, what would happen to windows in areas with lots of rain, especially where storms are accompanied by high winds? Instead of relying on the contractor who installed the windows, you should consult the manufacturer, assuming that you can find its name on the product.

Companies that make quality windows typically provide lifetime dual pane seal warranties to the original owners. Other companies, those whose seals are prone to leaks, often do not identify themselves with product labels. Once a seal fails, it can be difficult to determine who the manufacturer is by examining the product.

If your windows are unlabeled, insist that the installer provide you with the name and address of the company that made them. When you contact the manufacturer, ask for a copy of its dual pane seal warranty. Carefully review that warranty.

Lifetime warranties on dual pane windows help builders as well as homeowners because they limit the builder's financial liability. Some builders, however, are myopic in this respect; they prefer short-term savings when buying windows. This is why the brand of windows a builders chooses can be an indication of professional integrity.

Barry Stone is a professional home inspector. If you have questions or comments, contact him through his Web site, www.housedetective.com, or send mail to 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93401.

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