If you are a homeowner, or property owner, and need to hire a contractor to remove mold from your home or building, the format and content of the two or three proposals you review need to be similar. The following discussion is important because this industry is not uniform in its approach or methods. This will help with understanding what to expect, the content, and how compare the proposals you review. If you cannot find Part 1 of this article, you can download the entire discussion on Mr. Bennett’s website at Usefarsight.com. In Part 1, we discussed the following topics:
Part 2 continues:
The naturally occurring mold spores that are always present in the air will germinate in the presence of elevated humidity or liquid water. There are no technical approaches used in removing the mold that will prevent this from happening again. The preferred way to prevent mold regrowth is to address the reasons for the elevated moisture conditions that allowed the contamination to occur. The least appropriate method to prevent mold regrowth is to apply an antimicrobial coating.
There are only a few manufactures of antimicrobial coating products. They each have a liquid latex or polymer base with heavy metals or chemicals added to suppress the spore’s ability to germinate. The manufactures offer a 10, or 15, year warranty that mold will not regrow on the treated surfaces. However, there is major exemption in the warranty language, the warranty is void if the treated surface comes in contact with elevated humidity or liquid water! Since you cannot get mold to germinate without water, by default if there is regrowth, you have violated the requirement for low moisture conditions and the warranty is void. You could receive a 1,000 year warranty against regrowth in a dry environment because there is no water for germination. FYI, I have taken several photographs of mold colonies growing on treated surfaces.
Unfortunately, many mold remediation companies use warranties to win projects, knowing full well they will not respond to a claim. Also, be aware that manufactures do not pay for the mold regrowth to the removed, at best, they will just give you a few gallons of additional coating to use after you pay for the contamination to be removed again. Try to remember that mold is the symptom and water is the problem. Contractors should be equally focused on why the mold grew on surfaces in the first place as in removing the contaminant.
If the warranty is important to you, each manufacture has a published warranty statement that the contractor can attach to the proposal. Because mold is a living and opportunistic presence in the environment, it may be prudent to use a coating in some conditions, but it would be best to ignore the warranty statements. Remediation companies often use them to get the project so you do not pay too much attention to how the mold contamination is addressed.
After the project is completed, a remediation report should be provided by the contractor that states that the mold was removed in accordance with current national remediation standards, and again identify them. This is important because when you sell a home in the State of Ohio, the disclosure form that the seller completes asks about their knowledge of mold growth in the home. A document should be available for proof that the contractor removed the mold in accordance with current national remediation standards. Secondly, it places the contractor in a position of liability that they have followed proper standards, removed the contaminate, and cleaned the remediated area correctly.
A contractor can use two types of billing practices for a project; either a time and material agreement, or a lump sum agreement. A time and material (T&M) method will allow you to see the time they feel is needed to complete the project. The reason is that with a T&M contract, if one contractor says it will take 5 days (80 hours for two persons) and another company says it will take three days (48 hours) you can see this difference; but if the proposal is presented as a lump sum estimate, you will not be able to see the time difference if the costs are the same. You should be able to see the number of hours estimated and their billing rate. Contractors use a lump sum project estimates to hide high billing rates.
There was a project where a contractor had been on site for 1.5 hours to remove mold from an attic. The contractor just sprayed a chemical, walked away, and charged about $800 per hour. The second contractor look at the project because the mold had not been removed, and told the homeowner the work would take about 6 days because of the critical barriers that needed to be built, removing the mold growth, and cleaning the attic in accordance with national remediation standards. Just as a side note, 8 months after this event the first company closed its doors.
Be careful of hiring the cheapest company. Normally the cheapest company cannot provide the best service; this is not a commodity. The following is a good proverb to remember:
The bitterness of poor-quality lasts much longer than the initial sweetness of a low price.
I recommend that you ask for 35 or 40 professional references of past clients. Any company that has been in business for a few years should be able to provide this. It would also be helpful if the references were divided into categories of attic, basement, or crawl space. Take the time to call them. Also, look up their reviews and reputation on Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, the BBB, or wherever is best for you.
A remedial contractor should provide an education biography that presents their Professional Certifications, how and where they obtained their training, and their annual Continuing Educational training. They should be able to provide a list of Professional Associations they belong to and if they have published any technical presentations at national conferences. This is how you separate the professional companies from the poor-quality companies that give the industry a bad name.
Errors and Omission (E&O) insurance is used to provide coverage for the services provided by a company. This is the appropriate insurance that covers a contractor if they make a mistake on a project, or if they miss (omit) something on a project. This is not general liability or workers compensation insurance. E&O insurance is needed if they make a mistake on your project, and you want to take legal action against them. To obtain this insurance, a company must fill out an application that documents their training and experience. Insurance companies will not underwrite the contractor and provide the coverage if they are not sufficiently capable of doing the work. E&O insurance coverage gives you the feeling that you have recourse if the contractor is incompetent; also, that someone has looked at their background for training and experience and found it acceptable. I would recommend that you only hire a remediation contractor that has E&O insurance.
Deep Breath is an article that is dedicated to distributing information through the Stark & East Central Ohio BIA newsletter. Hopefully the information presented here will spark your interest in learning more about a topic that will help your business and clients. If you have any questions or would like to hear about a certain topic, you can reach me at BobBennett@usefarsight.com. I will post some of the questions asked at the end of the next article.
Bob Bennett is the President of Farsight Management, and the President of the Indoor Air Quality Association for North East Ohio. He has been provided indoor air quality consulting and abatement for the last 20 years to builders, homeowners, insurance companies, and property management companies. You can follow Mr. Bennett on Facebook under Farsight Management; he frequently posts comments on interesting projects and articles of interest. Contact him through his email if you have any questions.
At Farsight Management we understand that not all indoor air quality companies are created equal.
We feel that it is imperative to educate ourselves, our employees, and our customers. You can trust that we follow all the national standards in regards to indoor air quality. This includes mold remediation, lead abatement, asbestos removal, and everything that we do.