Importance and Benefits of Having a Mold and Moisture Prevention Plan:
Water damage and mold growth can be costly. Some industry research indicate that the average overhead loss associated with a 1-week project delay of a 250-unit building (overhead only) is about $30,000. A 1-month delay costs the building about $120,000 in overhead costs.
We know from experience that rapid response to water intrusion is essential to eliminating moisture, reducing the threat of mold, and protecting a construction project’s bottom line.
A mold and moisture prevention plan provides steps and measures that can help property/facility managers prevent mold growth issues and have an effective action plan for dealing with mold/moisture problems that arise. Having a Mold Prevention/Remediation Plan can help provide guidance to handle mold and moisture situations in a timely manner as well as being prepared to deal with occupant concerns calmly and effectively. Additionally, having a plan in place can help save money through minimizing the loss of revenue due to a section of a facility requiring remediation, preventing overcharging, and can help in preventing legal challenges and lawsuits.
Below are five steps that are typically involved in an effective mold/moisture prevention/remediation plan:
The first step in developing an effective mold/moisture plan is to educate both the occupants of the building as well as your staff on mold and moisture problems.
Educating tenants/occupants on how to identify and report potential mold and moisture issues can help in finding the source of the problems sooner so that they can be handled effectively. Additionally, this will help the tenants/occupants know that their input is valuable and be a part of the process in maintaining the environmental health of the building.
Providing training to all employees working on the property regarding identifying and responding to mold and moisture problems is also important for handling these issues effectively. All employees should be aware of the mold and moisture prevention plan so that there is no confusion when problems arise. Part of the training should include how to properly respond to occupant concerns regarding mold and moisture problems. With employees having knowledge regarding mold issues, they can respond calmly to occupants and keep the situation contained until proper remediation is performed.
RESEARCH VENDORS BEFORE ISSUES ARISE
Once a mold and moisture issue is found, it is important to act quickly to get the problem addressed and keep the issue from getting worse. Having vendors that have already been
researched and selected before a problem arises can help in addressing the problem faster and reduce the risk of hiring a contractor that will take advantage of the situation or does not properly remediate/correct the problem.
The following are things to look at when evaluating different contractors:1
1. What number of trained crew members does the contractor use for a project?
2. What kind of training/certification has been provided to the staff?
3. Does the contractor have the equipment necessary to properly address mold/moisture problems?
4. Does the contractor have liability insurance?
5. How quickly does the contractor respond to calls/issues? And what hours/days are they available?
6. What is the fee structure for projects?
DETERMINE THE SOURCE OF MOISTURE/MOLD PROBLEMS
The best way to prevent mold growth, is to find and correct moisture problems as soon as possible. Having on-site staff and occupants report any sign of moisture issues/leaks can help prevent mold growth and save time in getting issues fixed. Property staff should routinely conduct a visual survey throughout the property for any signs of moisture or conditions that may result in mold/microbial growth (ex: leaking faucets, damaged sprinkler heads, condensation).
NoVA Environmental Solutions can provide quarterly mold and moisture inspections that can help find moisture and mold growth before they become major problems. Having NES perform routine sampling and moisture testing can help find hidden mold growth and address concerns to reduce repair costs.
ADDRESS THE MOLD/MOISTURE PROBLEM
Once a moisture/mold problem has been identified, the issue needs to be contained and remediated quickly and in accordance with industry standards. Mold remediation should follow the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC™) S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, IICRC™ R520 Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation (3rd edition, 2015) and U.S. EPA Guidelines “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings”.
For small mold/moisture problems, your mold and moisture prevention team may be able to address the situation without outside help, but other issues may arise where it will be more effective to consult with an industrial hygienist or environmental consultant and use a qualified vendor from the list formed during the creation of the mold and moisture prevention plan.
MAINTAIN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION AND REVIEW PROGRESS
To effectively deal with a mold/moisture problem, effective communication between the property manager, the mold/moisture prevention team, the remediation contractor, and the industrial hygienist is key in getting the problem properly resolved in a timely manner. Ask the contractors involved in remediation for daily progress reports and routinely check on the work area to make sure that projects are being completed on time. Keeping the industrial hygienist in the loop can help with getting the post remediation verification inspection done as soon as the remediation is complete. This will also allow the property/facility manager to provide a timeline for occupants on when the project will be completed.
It is also important to audit the invoices to make sure the project stays on budget and review all the work that has been performed by the contractors. This will prevent surprise costs and hold contractors accountable.