We just bought a console table to put our coffee stuff and wine bottles next to the kitchen table, but to fit it, we had to move the heater one mere inch to the right. I unmounted the heater, and pulled out the molding between it and the back door — and underneath the molding, radiating from that door, was a ton of mildew and absolutely drenched drywall. Only maybe three square feet were affected, but still. Jodi and I put on masks and pulled out all the affected stuff, taking care not to cut the vapor barrier, then Jodi started calling around to figure out who we know that can help with this situation.

We thought at first that it was the result of our animals’ water dish spilling and soaking the bottom of the wall, but on closer inspection, the door trim and a chunk of that drywall along the bottom had been removed and replaced once before. Prestige Homes seals the trim to the wall with a thick coat of paint they put on before delivery, you see — when we replaced the floor in the craft room, we had to use an exacto knife to cut the paint along the top of the trim to pull it off. The trim’s paint-seal had been cut already, as had the seal along the door casing’s trim. And where that piece of drywall had been replaced, there’s even cuts in the vapor barrier, so the last fix job was obviously completely botched — probably done by the owner, whom we know to not be handy at all, rather than by a professional.

Bear in mind this house was a two-year-old Prestige home when we bought it — factory-built, therefore very likely to have been relatively water-tight. So the woman we bought it from, obviously had this problem once before. I strongly suspect that the trim was removed and then put back after the patch job. We’re going to have to replace that piece, and at least part of the trim covering the door casing. And I’d like to get someone that knows what they’re doing to look at the wood under the vapor barrier, to tell us if that wood is salvageable at all, or if it’ll all end up having to come out.

This is the exact worst time to discover mildew. We’ve already cancelled Christmas, so we can save up to do our wedding and the CONvergence trip in July. I’m kind of hoping you folks might have some ideas as to what to do to fix this right, and as cheaply as possible. Pics can be obtained, if they will help diagnose the problem.

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9 thoughts on “Mildew!

  1. 1

    I wasn’t offered an extended warranty on the house — just the existing warranty, which is now up for everything but the Structural (which, far as I can see, doesn’t cover “alterations” like the obvious hackjob repair job, and I’m not sure it would cover this to begin with).

    I should call Prestige regardless and see what can be done, if anything.

  2. 2

    No no, good advice, and I thank you for it. I’m going to take Monday off to clean what I can with bleach and try to clean up some of this mess (as tomorrow’s pretty well writ off already), so I’ll contact Prestige then.

    I also thank Zdenny for trying to comment in a helpful manner, but I will helpfully remind him that I’ve disengaged and while I appreciate his attempt at outreach, things are well in hand.

    Until, that is, they’re not. At which point, then I start panicking. I admit I wrote the post in a bit of a freaked out state, but now that rationality has kicked back in, things aren’t as bad as they seem. Worst case scenario, Jodi might have to shoulder the burden from her student loan savings, but one way or another, even if it’s an invasive procedure on the door casing, it won’t be wholly unmanageable.

    The damage is all contained presently — we have plastic covering the hole and the floor around it. I’ll take that off and get some pictures tomorrow.

  3. 3

    Sorry to hear that guys 🙁
    Bleach will help, defiantly call some people and see what they suggest, and yep call the houseing builders maybe they consider it structural if its in the caseing or the floor, once you get it fixed properly you can prime it with killz primer which is a mold blocking primer, and it works great I can tell you.

    Hope you get things worked out

  4. 4

    You know that part at the closing where they offer you an extended warranty on the house? Do you remember that part, and did you sign anything on it? Sometimes that covers this sort of thing and sometimes it doesn’t depending.

    Also, if there is a traceable source for the moisture getting in that is causing the damage, so your homeowner’s may cover it.

  5. 5

    I wonder, though, if it would help pay for repairs if the source of the problem were never addressed. I used to work for a restoration company, but I wasn’t an adjuster for an insurance co. However, I do know that we did some direct repair claims for this sort of thing. Call them and see what they will do, not that this is an order 🙂 – but just to see if it was a common design problem for your home.

    Just sayin’

  6. 6

    Did you guys get the home inspection done before you completed the home purchase? That’s the sort of thing a home inspector really should have spotted.

  7. 7

    Talked to Prestige. The transferred warranty only covers major structural defects — like floor joists breaking, for instance. They did give me some good advice though. It could be because the sill was lifted up by the step that the previous owner put in when the frost came — I’ll have to check that out, it’s a very good possibility. They suggested I use caulking along the bottom and sides of the sill, then give the house a good hosing a few days later with the water hose and see if any of it leaks through. And my current course of action (clean up, seal the wood and floor with Kilz, patch up, and get a storm door) is good, as long as I doublecheck the sill and re-seal if necessary (and maybe even if NOT necessary).

    Miranda: it was very well hidden under the trim, and inspectors can’t lift up trim or open drywall — they only do surface inspection. The previous owner had obviously dealt with the water damage without dealing with the source of the water, and where we don’t use the back door (our recycling bags are in metal wireframes right in front of it for lack of a better place to put them), we didn’t notice until we had to do the described remodelling.

  8. 8

    If it appears that the previous owner had tried to do a patch job themselves then it should have been disclosed when you put an offer on the home. If it had been disclosed properly then it should have been something the inspector was on the lookout for. I wasn’t trying to imply that the inspector should have lifted up molding etc to look for the problem. Just wondering about the disclosure. If it was something the previous owner knew about and tried to fix themselves then that should have been disclosed to you. That’s all.

  9. 9

    Hmm. No, I don’t think it WAS disclosed. And the woman was quite irritated every time we asked to look at things. This is a lot of speculation of course, but I’m beginning to think she was getting rid of the place because she didn’t want to deal with the problems.

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