• Type: Abuse Case
  • Caused by: Design and construction defects
  • Description: Mould in the basement and external walls and windows
  • Effect: Health hazard | economic hazard
  • Reason(s): Eye, nose and throat irritation; coughing and phlegm build-up; wheezing and shortness of breath; symptoms of asthma; allergic reactions (source)
  • Areal extent of damage zone: : The basement; external walls and windows
  • Intensity of impact at a point: Medium

Abused by Design (and Construction)

Alternaria aspergillus, cladosporium, penicillium, or some other common indoor mold arrived in our unit two months after we moved in and quickly spread throughout the entire basement, especially in the pipe box, which has no ventilation. It took Home Builder about two weeks after reporting to process affected surfaces by a professional mold removal company. An independent inspector and Home Builder's representative recommended us to relocate the pipes away from the wall, otherwise mould will reappear.

Then we started searching the Internet on how to keep mold from forming. General recommendations contradict most things that we see in our unit. First they recommend "maintaining your level of humidity in your home or office at 40% or less." On September 26, the humidity in our basement (outside) the pipe box was 72%. Because Home Builder haven't installed a dehumidifier, we immediately ordered one ourselves.

Another recommendation was, "During hot and humid months, always have your air conditioner on. An added benefit would be to run a dehumidifier as well." Despite the noise produced by the A/C, which is installed directly above our master bedroom, during summer 2017, we always had the air conditioner on.

The third recommendation is, "Never install carpeting in your basement." Do I even need to tell you that carpet was Home Builder's default option for the basement?

In addition, we now have mould on the north facing windows on the second and third floors.

On July 7, rain was generously pouring through the north wall and window on our newly installed expensive Hunter Douglas blinds. Who knows what now happens inside the external walls that absorbed a lot of water during several spring and summer months until Home Builder installed siding and finished facade works in late July?

What's Next?

First, the pipes need to be relocated away from the external wall and ventilation installed to prevent mould from reappearing. The mechanical box is wet, even though we keep it open. Second, the baseboards that were removed during mould removal need to be replaced. Third, the carpet in the basement that underwent intensive chemical treatment, must be professionally cleaned, or replaced, or replaced with a material better suitable for basements. Finally, the windows mould problem must be investigated and addressed.

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