Just because you are having a new home built or buying one, that does not mean it will not have mold.
In fact, many experts claim that the water damage cannot be seen in 80 to 90% of cases — meaning most homeowners may never know they have a mold problem growing within their walls.
As a mold inspector and mold remediator in San Diego County, California, I often witness how builders will construct brand new homes with mold infected wood or leave these homes exposed to the elements. I cannot count how many times I had witnessed this during the massive rain storms as we have experienced over the last five months.
What I have discovered is that this happens ALL the time throughout the U.S. and you can find toxic proof of these facts all over the internet.
According to an article on CNN Money, over 30% of brand new homes built have mold of some form in them. The construction precautions taken to alleviate these issues is not as stringent with track built type homes where there is an assembly line type of project.
The article concludes; “One home can sit for days or weeks soaking up moisture before the next crew comes in for their part of the project.”
As a result of the lack of precautions to prevent water damage by new home builders, lawsuits are on the rise with a 200% increase in defect mold litigation in construction, according to the American Bar Association.
The title of a 2018 article on Philly.com really portrays this reality for people – “How water intrusion in new homes turns American dreams to rot.”
The article details more than 650 homeowners in at least 55 zip codes in homes so damaged by water and mold that each requires tens of thousands — and sometimes, hundreds of thousands — of dollars in repairs. Lawyers blame rushed production, undertrained workers, lower-quality materials, and lax oversight by builders and code inspectors.
Phily.com says, “Experts have labeled Pennsylvania the epicenter of an industrywide epidemic that has affected sprawling suburban houses, starter homes, and luxury Philadelphia townhouses alike. Properties constructed with materials other than stucco had problems, too.
Some houses with water damage were built by billion-dollar public companies. Others, by small, local firms. Some are 10 or 20 years old. Others are brand-new.”
Billion dollar companies like Toll Properties who will often lie about this damage and the dangers to protect their shareholders and their mighty profits.
For example, Philly.com reports;
“Toll’s vice president of construction, Anthony Geonnotti, for example, testified in 2017 that, within slightly more than two years, he had inspected 300 to 350 homes in the region for water intrusion — with roughly 85 percent needing repairs, according to an arbitration hearing transcript filed in court.
Countless homeowners have discovered the problems only after it’s too late to bring a claim under state law — with some missing the deadline by just weeks or months.”
As I mentioned above, I often witness how builders will construct brand new homes with mold infected wood or leave these homes exposed to the elements.
This exposure to excess moisture and or the coastal humidity then creates water damaged and mold-ridden homes even before the first homebuyer sets foot in them.
Unbeknownst to the new homeowner, there is a toxic danger growing within the walls. A menace that has the possibility to make them and their children very ill and even worse.
This is what you do not want the wood to look like in your new property.
The common wood we use in the U.S. to build homes is supposed to be a very light brown and not black like you can see in the image above. It’s clear that the 2×4 studs appear to be the right color and upon first sight – mold free but as you can see, the plywood has obvious water and mold damage.
The moldy wood in the above image could have occurred at the building site or the lumber yard. If it happened in the yard, it is called “lumberyard mold.” Here is a photo of this type of damage which is obvious when only some of the wood or just certain random 2×4’s have mold like this;
Most of the time when I point this damage out on my mold inspections to builders and potential buyers, they just shrug it off like it’s normal and I tell them, no, this is not normal. In fact, I inform them that the home now has active mold damage and has the potential to negatively affect the air quality in the property and possibly make the occupants very ill.
Even though damaged wood will be encased in insulation and sheetrock, these building materials are not adequate mold barriers. They are highly porous and within these wall cavities, air can flow over the moldy wood so it has the potential to easily infect the indoor air quality of the property and its occupants.
I certainly would not buy a home with lots of moldy lumber and I often recommend the people who hire me to inspect these properties not to purchase these properties. Plain and simple.
Water damaged and moldy wood is a construction defect.
This is a construction defect and buyers have potential lawsuits that involve mold-related claims that can evolve into class action lawsuits. Many homebuyers are receiving settlements in the six-figure and with these numbers, this can cause some homebuilders to go bankrupt.
But some people still buy these homes and worse yet, they sign away their legal right to sue when they buy to enter into mandatory arbitration, where records are not public so we cannot accurately see the extent of the current problem.
In many cities and counties, the local building code requires that contractors use dry lumber and does not have a high moisture content. The average moisture content is generally right around 18% or lower. In some building jurisdictions, they require builders to test and verify this before they are allowed to install the drywall over the wood framing which in my opinion, is very smart
More often than not, new home buyers never notice the water and mold damage because it is covered over with insulation, drywall, and paint to give it a shiny appearance on the outside hiding the toxic dangers that are now breeding within the home.
All the while, they do not even consider that their newly constructed home is what is making them or their children have weird health symptoms and or unexplained illnesses. Little do they know that they just bought an expensive piece of property that is not only toxic but potentially deadly.
Even when the wood being used is fresh and mold free, water damage and mold can occur at the building site.
The facts are that it takes many months to build a home and often it will rain and damage the wood causing mold to grow. For example, wood framing and subflooring will be exposed to weather and humidity during the building process. If it is not dried all the way before the insulation and walls are enclosed which is often the case, excess humidity will cause mold to flourish.
Also, a crawl space, basement, and subfloors can become a perfect breeding ground after a foundation is poured and it rains or from excess humidity as we have here in the coastal areas of San Diego and Orange County, California. If this moisture is not properly dried and the subfloors, studs and vapor barriers are then installed too early, it will cause excess condensation within the walls and mold to grow.
Here is an example of a new home community called Mar Bella in League City, Texas that was plagued with mold. Residents have been living through a nightmare there. They cannot move and they cannot sell because of the problems.
Homeowners started calling their neighborhood by another name, ‘Mold’ Bella, because of the toxic mold issues they discovered within their walls. The new home builder, Taylor Morrison had built over 1,000 homes in the neighborhood and apparently, these homes cannot be easily remediated.
Taylor Morrison released this statement to News Channel 11 KHOU:
“We extend our sincerest apologies to the Mar Bella community as we work to fix the moisture issues impacting numerous homes. Taylor Morrison stands behind its homes and is actively working with industry experts to remedy the situation, conducting onsite inspections and research to diagnose the specific causes and potential solutions.
As we work to design a permanent solution and repair the affected homes, Taylor Morrison has provided money to homeowners for alternative housing while repairs are implemented. Some of the previous attempts to fix homes with moisture issues have not worked despite our efforts. Even though the symptoms are clear, the cause of the problem is multifaceted, making it sometimes difficult to diagnose and determine the appropriate repair.”
The facts are there are communities and homes all over the U.S. just like Mar Bella.
Buying a newly constructed home?
In most real estate transactions, only a home inspection is performed and often, these inspectors are not trained to inspect for mold and will often miss potential water damage and mold dangers.
If you are considering purchasing a newly constructed house, you should invest in a professional home and mold inspection with our company, Mold Safe Solutions. Our professionally trained and certified inspectors will be able to identify problems like hidden mold growth before your inspection contingency expires.
Please call or text us at (760) 818-6830 for a FREE quote.
Moe Bedard is the founder and CEO of Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation. If you need help with a project, please call Mold Safe Solutions at 760-818-6830.