In the field service industry, most “owners” are lenders that sit at office desks states away from where the property is located. The lender never sees the property; cannot personally oversee the services being performed; and must rely on others to maintain and report conditions at properties. Being physically distant has obvious disadvantages and leaves the lender susceptible to hiring sub-standard services such as those shown above. But distance is not an excuse. You can monitor the services you hire by employing certain policies for oversight and Quality Control.
1. When there are reports of a mold situation, address the causing factor first.
2. Once proof is in hand that the causing factor has been addressed, secure the services of an inspector to detail the damage.
3. Check the abatement companies scope to ensure the list of services closely matches the damage the inspector has detailed.
- All remediation services should include a HVAC duct service itemization as this area always accumulates dirt during use which will readily absorb moisture and be a breeding ground for mold.
- The scope should follow the New York City Guidelines for Mold Abatement. As there are no current laws governing this issue, this step is the most important when hiring a contractor.
4. Check the credentials of the abatement company:
- Appropriate training from a recognized institute.
- Appropriate insurance coverage – most general liability and “errors & omissions” will not cover mold abatement/remediation services. To protect yourself from liability issues, Pollution Insurance is appropriate.
- Request proof of the above.
5. Before and After Photos Do NOT Justify Proof!!!!! Treat all remediation services as you would an insured loss.
Require Loss Draft Inspections.
- An independent inspection should occur when the tear-out has been completed and the mold has been completely removed.
- An independent inspection should occur at completion of dry-out. A QC Inspector can provide moisture readings of the structure to attest to the dried-out state.
- An independent inspection should occur when the encapsulation has been completed.
- Additional independent inspections can be requested if re-construction is to be performed.
At a Minimum – Require Before, DURING, and After Photos. Emphasis should be on the During – Maximum photos or a Video documentation should be requested to prove that the work was actually performed.
During photos should detail:
- the tear-out
- the scrubbing in progress
- the encapsulation in progress
- the reconstruction in progress
- Each step of the scope should be accompanied by appropriate photographs.
6. Require dated receipts for both the anti-microbial cleanser and the anti-microbial sealer. These are specialty products that generally would not be “in stock” for the typical contractor. Require proof that the contractor purchased these products for your project.
7. Require a Notarized Affidavit that the inspector who is actually performing inspections on the progress has no vested or financial interest in the contractor company that is performing the abatement services. This would assure you that a true “third-party” completed the oversight on your behalf.
These steps are not absolute guarantees that the services will be performed accordingly. However, the few dollars spent on additional inspections or photographs will be an added measure protecting your investment in the services being performed. An extra few dollars is a small price to pay when thousands are presently being spent on services that may not be properly performed. Inspectors who complete Loss Draft Inspections can cite numerous instances where fire and water restorations services supposedly completed may appear to be so in photographs but during physical “all five senses” inspections, water, mildew and/or smoke can be detected as still present within the property. The “all five senses” inspection is the additional security device readily available to those hiring abatement services.