New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




A Board Brings in Backup When a Mold Problem Won't Go Away

Tom Soter in Legal/Financial

Westchester County

Park Knoll. Photo courtesy of New Crystal Restoration.

It was in August 2013 that the unexpected occurred: a fire broke out. Although the fire was soon contained, there was a new problem. The company that repaired the damaged units also performed the mold remediation. But, nearly 12 months later, the board was unhappy with the results. "They had not done a good job," recalls Peg Conover, the board's president for the past seven years.

"They didn't do it properly, and the end result was that the building [still] had a significant amount of mold," says Lisa Cordasco, president of New Crystal Restoration, the company that redid the work. "The industry standards are that you have to provide drying records indicating the condition of the premises on a daily basis and check, just make sure that the moisture level is going down to an acceptable level. That wasn't done. Then the management company, Prime Locations, and the building co-op president contacted us."

Conover says that the board had found New Crystal Restoration by word of mouth. "Our project manager went over to the site, did a walkthrough with the super," Cordasco says. "We identified visually things that were of concern. Then we worked in conjunction with an independent hygienist, who came in and did sampling at the site to validate the mold, and find the extent of the mold; then the hygienist provided us with a scope of services. We took that scope and worked within those guidelines and parameters, to make sure that we didn't do too much or too little and to make sure that was done satisfactorily.

"Once we completed our job, the hygienist, who again is independent, who is not affiliated with our company and doesn't care whether we pass or fail, does the sampling and then took the results to an independent lab, and they came back and said we passed. Property owners, management companies, and unit-holders should know about those procedures. Because you want to make sure that too many hands are not in the pot; you want an outside judge; it's self-serving if the person that does the testing also does the remediation. Because, what is their incentive not to pass?"

It was a laborious project, which began on September 16, 2014 and ended about three days later at a cost of $32,000. "It was very intense, what with coordinating between their insurance company and the board president. There were many layers of people involved with the process," observes Cordasco. "It was complicated because you had to get lots of parties to sign off and approve work, and approve scope, and approve budget. There were dozens of meetings, and phone calls, and interactions before we started. Once we get approval that the funds are going to be available, that the job is either going to be paid for directly by the management company or the insurance company, we're on it. We get in, we get out. We don't want to prolong our stay there. It's not cost-effective for us to continue to be at a site."

The work on the mold remediation led to additional work. "If we have a pipe break and there is a potential for the mold to grow, we will bring them in and clean it up," says Conover. "Before the mold grows, we will bring Lisa's company in to dry the building out."

There is one unusual feature about New Crystal Restoration: it uses green products in its work. "Most, if not all of our competitors use traditional products, which are effective, but they [can be] toxic," says Cordasco. "If we do a water extraction project, then we have to, which we always do, disinfect, and apply antimicrobial, which prevents the growth of mold. The product that we use is green; it's botanical-based. You could drink the products that we use." Not that you'd want to.

Photo courtesy of New Crystal Restoration.

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?