Is Your Home Killing You?

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When they found mold in my house a few years back it was an expensive mess. Every homeowner out there should be up in arms that homebuilders want to make it harder for you to find the proof of a sick home.

We have to wear protective suits and masks just to step inside Ashley’s Olive’s home in league city.

“It was behind every single wall, and we had no clue,” said Ashley Olive.

The mold has grown on the wood studs once hidden behind the walls in her house.

It makes you wonder, is anyone in your house feeling sick? Do you know what’s lurking behind your walls? Ashley sure didn’t.

“In June of 2022. I noticed what I thought looked like mold growth on a supply vent,” recalled Olive.

And both of her kids were getting ill, her three-year-old daughter was struggling to even speak.

That’s when Ashley brought in a licensed mold expert.

The inspector took the plates off the electric outlets. Then banged on the wall to make the mold spores behind the wall airborne.

This black device then read the amount of mold spores in the air coming from of the outlet.

“So, without that type of testing, you would have never found it?” asked Brian Collister

“We would have had no idea that we were going to lose three fourths of our home if we had not had wall testing done,” said Olive.

That testing showed a million mold spores in just 75 liters of air. That’s a ton

“What caused the mold?” asked Collister.

 “There was improper ventilation in my attic. And if you take a super sealed home and a humid climate. Kind of the recipe for disaster, where mold will then grow,” said Olive.

We wish Ashley’s horror story was rare, but it’s happening all over the state. Builders cutting corners to get houses up quick, bad ac systems, and then you mix in our humidity and you end up with mold. The scary kind.

Look at what the state says the rules are now. The scope and purpose of mold inspections in the first place, “to determine the source location and extent of mold growth in a building,” “ the conditions that caused the mold growth.”

Seems pretty clear to us.

So why is the Texas legislature trying to make it harder for homeowners to find that hidden danger? To hold builders accountable for building sick houses?

Is the deck stacked against families like Ashley’s?

Last year the legislature quietly created what’s called the Mold Assessment and Remediation Advisory Board.

“They are not the ones who will have the final say as to what those rules are they are strictly advisory. It’s an open and transparent process,” said Tela Mange with TDLR.

Don’t you love when government PR people say that? Especially when the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration has been fighting our request to see emails for a month.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test. And where there’s smoke there typically is fire in Austin,” said Ernest Freeman.

Attorney Ernest Freeman represents families who wage a fight with their homebuilder over mold, over their sick houses, and he’s crying foul.

All you have to do is look at the folks who’ve been appointed to this panel. they held their first and only virtual meeting back in March.

This is Brad Gahm, he’s a member and the lawyer for Highland Homes. One of the

Bruce Okruhlik is vice president of production for Tri Pointe Homes. They used to be called Trendmaker.

We’ve got a little history with those folks.

The big shots at Tri Pointe tried to ignore us three years ago, but settled that lawsuit. Having them on a mold panel is scary.

Especially when you look at his application to be on the mold advisory board.

He writes “the primary key issue needing to be addressed is more clearly defining proper mold testing methods. I have observed mold consultants stretching manufacturer’s instructions and creating their own methodologies to obtain skewed results”.

“There’s a lot of effort that goes behind to do it the right way to try to figure out where that mold is located. And based on what I believe is happening right now, they want to try to limit the mold consultant’s ability to figure out exactly where and the extent to which the mold is in there,” said Freeman.

There are three mold assessment consults on the advisory panel, but before you jump to conclusions that they are on the side of homeowners. Hold up a minute.

Gary Stanford is a consultant here in Houston and he writes on his application that he wants to “weed out the bad guys”. But who is he talking about?  He has testified as an expert for home builders.

So has Antonio Pina, like all the other board members he ignored our calls.

And then there’s board member Marion Armstrong.

She tests mold samples, but she’s hired by builders’ insurance companies to challenge mold claims.

Look at this report in a case in which Armstrong was hired by the builder.

She claims to have found much lower levels of mold than the mold assessment consultant who you see in this video testing for mold behind walls.

While the consultant found 93,700 mold spores in the home’s media room, Armstrong (who doesn’t test behind walls) claims her count was only just over 8-thousand spores.

So, you can figure out why the homebuilders like her.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s mold behind my walls I’d want to know.

There’s no one more popular on Houston radio than Roula Christie part of the Roula and Ryan team on KRBE.

But it was this mold in her house making her kids sick that still makes her cry years later.

“It’s almost like a haze now because when you’re in it, it’s so much that when I think about it, I mean, I can’t I mean, how could we not know that that the child was sick because of the house,” said Roula Christie.

A house she says she had to abandon because the mold was that bad.

“It’s because of the very air he breathes in the house that we think is the safest place for him,” continued Roula.

Roula blames the builder for construction defects that caused the mold that was also behind the walls and the idea Texas would make it easier for homebuilders to conceal sick houses pisses her off.

“I don’t live in that dream house anymore because it turned into a nightmare, and it was his fault. We did nothing to cause this to our family. Nothing,” expressed Roula.

We want to let you know that Ashley’s daughter is better now, but only because her family found hidden dangers behind the walls.

“Within three months of leaving this home that was filled with mold. She could speak completely clear sentences, never needed speech therapy, and has not needed it since,” said Olive.

That’s why this mom feels so betrayed, so suspicious of what this mold advisory board will do to protect the people who are building sick homes.

“I’m devastated for Texas homeowners; the testing being done the way it is now is the only way that you will truly know if a wall is healthy or if it is not. If this change is made, it will unequivocally ruin the ability for a homeowner to know if their home is filled with mold,” expressed Ashley Olive.

Maybe the TDLR board should be spending their time putting together a public database of the builders building the most sick homes.

Wait a second, that makes way too much sense.

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