Builder won't give attic mold warranty

 
 
Posted10/23/2022 7:00 AM

Q: Our new home is currently being built, and we were worried about mold on the roof rafters. When we pointed this out to the builder, he had the wooden surfaces professionally cleaned and chemically treated. But when we asked him for a warranty to cover future mold, he flatly refused. Should we insist on a warranty in case any mold returns, or is that an unreasonable demand?

A: Construction lumber typically has what is called "lumber yard mold," due to storage in wet weather. This type of mold can be found on the framing members in many attics and is generally not regarded as a significant health hazard. If the wood remains dry, as is likely in an attic, the mold should not become active.

 

Actually, you are fortunate to have a builder who was willing to address this mold in such a forthright manner. That is more than most builders would have been willing to do. So be grateful, and don't push too hard. Asking him to provide a written warranty against future mold infection is beyond the realm of normal expectations. A promise of that kind would subject him to unpredictable levels of legal liability and would be strongly discouraged by any prudent attorney or business adviser.

In the real world, mold happens. You'll just have to take your chances along with the rest of us. The best way to avoid it is to maintain dry conditions and proper ventilation as much as possible.

Q: My kitchen is being remodeled, and I'm having trouble with the contractor who installed the new wood flooring. The subfloor was not leveled before the new flooring was laid, some of the floorboards are loose and squeaky, and some of the boards flex when we step on them. I've pointed this out to the contractor, but he says this is normal. So I've got two questions: 1.) Are these conditions really normal, or do I have a faulty installation? 2.) Can this be repaired without ripping up all the flooring?

By the way, I still hold 30% of the contractor's fee. Should I withhold payment until the floor is fixed?

A: The conditions you describe do not sound reasonable or acceptable. New wood flooring should not flex or squeak; leveling of the subfloor should have been done before the new material was installed; and the contractor should take a more active interest in customer satisfaction, rather than sidestepping apparent defects. Unfortunately, repair of the floor will most likely require total reinstallation.

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If you don't get satisfaction from the contractor, you can file a complaint with the state agency that licenses contractors. In the meantime, hold onto the 30% that you have not yet paid for the work. That is definitely an important bargaining chip until the work is completed in a satisfactory manner.

• Email Barry Stone at barry@housedetective.com.

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