Thou Shall Bear Witness to thy Neighbor’s Mold
Topic: Mold, Condominium, Condo, Townhouse, Insurance, Mold Remidiation, HOA, Condo Association, article by Tony Stern
Are you renovating a condo or townhouse that adjoins a neighbor? Then be aware that the first sign of mold on the back of your neighbor’s drywall, yes, your neighbors not yours, is the time to let them know fast THEY have a problem before it becomes YOUR problem.
Take photographic evidence of THEIR existing leak or an old leak that is starting to attract mold and let your neighbor know immediately as well as the HOA, Condo or Building association. Mold is a huge deal these days, and who is to blame can become a real flashpoint when it comes to neighbors if it’s left to fester.
My unit doesn’t have mold, why is it my problem?
Think twice continuing to renovate after opening up the drywall and seeing a leak or mold on their wall. When you open up your unit’s walls to the elements, especially if you are changing out sliding glass doors, or the air conditioning in your property is switched off for any length of time, mold will start growing on your neighbors drywall where there are untreated or old leaks. Mold dries up and leaves a stain, but also leaves inactive mold spores.
Unless during your construction you have air scrubbers that clean the air in your unit of allergens & mold spores, and a dehumidifier that reduces the moisture levels and therefore the humidity that mold thrives on, you too will start to grow mold on your freshly painted drywall. All those old ugly stains are in many cases, is dried up inactive mold spores. You are spreading those spores through the air and onto all the surfaces of your unit (think drywall dust) when you start construction and then activating the mold spores with higher than normal humidity, temperatures and moisture. So yeah, this is your problem, and their responsibility to clean first before your renovation continues!
Use a Mold Remediation Service
Insist that the neighbor remediates with a licensed mold remediation company that issues an “all clear certificate” at the end of the cleanup. Many people attempt to get away cheap and just use general contractors or even worse “their guy” to fix the mold issue. This is not enough, and the mold problem can just come back in force once the wall is closed back up. Even worse you have mold contamination in your newly renovated townhouse or condo and buyers find out during inspection. Consider the following scenario: A buyer’s $200 mold inspection service is common among some South Florida property shoppers, and it basically consists of a visual inspection, some swab samples and then air collection kits that sniff out mold spores in the air. The typical handyman or even your General Contractor in many cases is not equipped to decontaminate elevated mold levels in the air on surfaces despite their insistence that they can deal with it. Many contractors think by spraying some bleach on a few areas or cutting out a few sections of drywall the mold problem is solved. With 90 seconds of Google research, you can quickly find out this is a terrible approach at mold remediation.
Tell them about THEIR mold problem before they tell you about YOURS!
If you do something stupid like leave the mold on the back of their wall exposed during your construction, your neighbor might start to find mold growing in the most unlikely places in their property. Your neighboring unit will immediately blame you, the evil house flipper! If you had not acted quickly in informing them in the first instance, look out for the lawsuit or an attack on your insurance policy (you got one of those on your rehab right?) where the deductible can still sting you. Most of the time it’s a race to blame and you don’t want to be last. Condo & Homeowner associations are very familiar with these types of squabbles, so make sure you inform them immediately of the situation
Look, most of the time rehabbers are the devil in these close-knit communities & condos. Condo buildings have every type of character there including the nosey ones, and the neighbors that can’t handle 1 or 2 construction molecules landing on their precious hallway or stairs. You must do everything by the book and document everything! Don’t let an old water stain chew up the profit on that rehab, deal with it immediately!