Mold. The problem that homeowners dread. Mold can make people sick, cost money to remove, ruin belongings, lower homes’ values or make houses harder to sell. Unfortunately, even a brand-new home can become infected by mold – and quickly.
Why does this happen? Mold needs water or moisture to take hold and grow, so a new home must be built carefully to resist water, moisture and weather. The scenarios that can result if a construction company fails to adhere to accepted practices or building codes are many, but if they involve water and moisture, mold is next.
Did the builder fail to properly use weather- and waterproofing materials, or other moisture- or mold-resistant products like membranes, sealants, coatings, moisture-resistant drywall or other mold-resistant building materials? Should the contractor have installed equipment to prevent water intrusion like a sump pump with drain tiling or exhaust fans? Did the contractor install windows or doors without proper barriers and seals? Was insulation inadequate for the climate
When the homeowner begins to experience mold problems in a brand-new home, they should take quick steps to contain and remove the damage as well as address any related medical problems immediately. In severe cases, the occupant may need to vacate the premises.
Legal remedies are normally available under these circumstances, but they vary with the circumstances and can be complex. Talk to an experienced Virginia consumer protection lawyer as soon as possible to get advice and guidance. An attorney can help the homeowner meet deadlines for potential claims or lawsuits and seek financial compensation for wrongful losses.
Possible claims a homeowner may have include:
- Breach of warranty
- Breach of contract
- Negligence per se (when the contractor broke a law while acting negligently)
- Infliction of emotional distress
- And others
Legal counsel will likely launch an investigation, consult with construction and mold experts and perform research to determine all the ways in which the homeowner has been harmed, so that in any lawsuit the homeowner asks for recovery for all past, present and future harm – damage to real estate and personal property, medical costs, lost wages, costs for repair and remediation, expenses of having to live elsewhere during remediation, losses if the home is uninhabitable and not reparable, emotional distress and others.
These cases can be legally complex. For example, Virginia courts have rules for when a plaintiff can bring both a breach of contract claim and a tort claim (claim for harm that is outside the broken contract) in the same house mold case. An experienced lawyer can carefully analyze the facts and law in this regard to protect the homeowner’s legal rights to recovery, whether that is through a negotiated settlement or a lawsuit
Harm can be to property and to people
That mold can be toxic and dangerous is common knowledge. Multiple types of the fungus can grow in homes, often hidden in walls or behind wallpaper but still giving off spores that people can unknowingly breath.
Mold exposure can cause allergic reactions for those with mold allergies and similar problems even without the allergy. More seriously, mold exposure can worsen asthma, create toxins in the body, irritate mucus membranes and lungs and more. Sometimes effects may be lifelong, so prompt medical attention is crucial.
The Virginia Department of Health provides information about indoor mold. (This web page also links to other informative websites like the EPA.)
Do not assume that nothing can be done – legal options are available. Talk to a lawyer about yours.