It’s a nightmare no property owner wants to deal with. We had a call a few weeks ago from an owner whose construction project hit a major roadblock due to the discovery of mold growth. The construction company had failed to dry-in the project before hanging drywall, and the drywall had gotten wet. Where there’s organic matter, water, and heat, mold will grow. In this case, a lot of it.
The project will have to be delayed while the mold is abated, and it is likely to add hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to the cost of the project. The contractor, meanwhile, has disappeared, so the cost will come out of the owner’s pocket.
Of course, careful vetting of the construction company goes a long way to preventing problems like this, but there’s also a lot you can do during inspections to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Here’s what you need to know.
Mold spores are constantly present in the atmosphere, and all they need in order to bloom into a problem is food, water and heat. Unfortunately for you, “food” for mold is anything made out of organic matter, like drywall and ceiling tiles.
During early construction, the presence of organic material is limited, especially if floors are concrete and framing is metal. Even wood framing and subfloors can be difficult for mold to colonize in the short period during which they’re exposed, due to the hardness of the material. However, if left exposed for a longer period of time, even wood can have mold growth. In contrast, drywall and ceiling tiles are highly susceptible to mold because of the soft organic matter of which they’re composed. On these materials, mold growth can begin within 48-72 hours of first getting wet.
Preventing mold growth during construction is simply a matter of keeping vulnerable materials dry. In practical terms, that means it’s critical that your construction company do three main things:
To ensure your contractor is doing everything they can to prevent expensive mold problems, add moisture to your inspection checklist during walk-throughs. Specifically:
Not every property owner or contractor will run into mold problems during construction. Sometimes, you get lucky. But if you’re one of the unlucky ones, mold growth will cause you a host of problems:
Preventing mold growth takes a little bit of care and investment up front, but it can prevent millions of dollars worth of damage in the long run.
Craig Gardei, AIA, LEED AP
Director of Building Assessment & Construction Consulting Services
As GLE’s Director of Building Assessment and Construction Consulting Services at GLE, Craig Gardei leads a team of construction inspectors and administrators who oversee construction projects with respect to both costs and quality of construction, to evaluate the condition of existing buildings, and to perform forensic evaluations to identify building issues that are affecting the health and comfort of building occupants. His experience includes inspection and evaluation of existing real estate portfolios, extensive experience in providing forensic architectural services, roof consulting services, construction oversight and management services for large-scale projects, and multi-building construction programs.