You cannot handle it yourself.  Many mold consultants treat mold as if it were asbestos.  Asbestos is truly dangerous.  Unlike mold, when inhaled into the lungs, the body cannot absorb or break down asbestos.  But mold consultants typically develop repair protocols which are virtually identical to asbestos protocols.  Several trade organizations have created mold credentials and extensive (and expensive) cleanup protocols for mold consultants to use.  On the other hand, the EPA’s recommendation to clean up a moldy area of up to 10 square feet is to wipe it with a cloth dampened with a diluted bleach solution. For more information, visit https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-cleanup-your-home or the mold Frequently Asked Questions at www.cdph.ca.gov.

The EPA and California Department of Public Health always recommend mold consultants.  They do not, but do recommend that minor mold situations be handled by the resident or janitorial staff.

Mold consultants are licensed. Mold inspectors or consultants are not licensed in California. A few states require a license to perform mold remediation work. Most mold consultant and mold remediation companies instead hold credentials and memberships in trade organizations that promote the interests of the mold inspection industry.

Mold cannot be caused by the resident.  Mold accumulation can often be caused or worsened by inadequately ventilated living space.  Mold can build up in stuffy bathrooms or any area where the environment is humid, warm and poorly ventilated.  Before the mold scare started in 2000, with the new term “toxic mold,” residents would clean up mold in shower or bath enclosures and would simply wipe it off with a cleaning solution.

Insurance never covers mold.  Partially true: Delayed discovery and drying of water leakage can result in mold and dry rot, not normally covered by property insurance.  Although the property insurance will normally refuse to cover the cost of mold remediation, it will still typically cover the other water damage.  However, if the property owner is sued because of water damage including mold, the liability part of the policy ordinarily will defend the claim and sometimes even pay for mold cleanup.

Let the emergency contractor do everything.  Because of the fear associated with mold, the normal reaction is to call emergency service contractors.  Such contractors are expensive because of their readiness to respond almost immediately at any hour.  Stopping water leakage and drying the space might require an emergency contractor but sometimes a plumber or handyman might be enough. Emergency contractors sometimes destroy walls and cabinets before anyone can obtain a second opinion as to its necessity.  Allow demolition only of what is immediately necessary, and then seek bids for the remaining work.

It’s important to look inside the walls. Concerned residents often ask to open walls to look for mold, but this is almost always unnecessary.  If it is inside the wall, it may not be affecting anyone, and opening the wall may actually disturb mold and release it into the air).

Mold incidents always cost over $10,000.  The cost of repairing water damage skyrockets due to unnecessary mold tests, unnecessary consultants, delay in leak repair and drying (the most common cause of mold buildup), excessive demolition, unnecessary mold hunts, and overuse of emergency contractors, and foregoing competitive repair bids. Be more deliberate, and save money.

 

Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Kelly@rodllp.com. Past columns at www.HOAHomefront.com. All rights reserved®.

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