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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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ARCHIVE ARTICLE

How to Cope with a Mold Outbreak

The Challenge

For over 27 years, Century has managed the Baybridge Homeowners’ Association (HOA), which is part of a 664-unit property across from Little Neck Bay in Bayside, Queens. The HOA’s common elements are comprised of the first floor; the fitness center and a running track at “C” level (known as the cellar); and the racquetball courts and the indoor pool in the subcellar. When a tile fell in the pool area, the HOA investigated by opening up the ceiling and peeling back the wallpaper. To the disappointment of all, a mold condition was discovered.

The Solution

We called in Lawrence Environmental, who confirmed the mold condition in both the cellar and subcellar areas. The cause of the mold, unfortunately, turned out to be improper materials used during construction. Building leaks and improper dehumidification exacerbated the issue. As it turned out, the developer never installed a dehumidification system in the indoor pool area, and as a result, mold had built up behind the sheetrock. Upon confirmation of the presence of black mold, the HOA was forced to close down the clubhouse and remove all sheetrock, ductwork, and flooring. The entire cellar and subcellar areas were taken down to the bare-bone concrete floors and beams. At the end of the day, the HOA was forced to rebuild two entire floors.

The Lesson

A dehumidification system within a pool area is an absolute must. The HOA had an estimated seven air-conditioning professionals on the site over many years, and the issue of the pool dehumidification system was never discussed. All together the cellar and subcellar rebuild cost $1.6 million. To make matters worse, the HOA did not have mold insurance. Fortunately, due to Century’s long-standing relationship with Greater New York Mutual, we were able to get the carrier to kick in $100,000 to abate the mold as a show of good faith. It’s been a year since the cellar and subcellars were shut down. It’s been a painful year, but through expert project management, all is back together and environmentally sound this time around.

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