All Wood Structures Need To Beware Of Mold Construction Defect Claims

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All Wood Structures Need To Beware Of Mold Construction Defect Claims

February 16, 2020 by Steve Conboy

During Wet Months Its Impossible To Keep Wood Dry During Long Framing Schedules

Wood rot can and will start when the moisture content of the wood reaches 20 percent. But wood rot is a slow process where the fungi start to grow and feed on the cellulose in the wood. The wood needs to remain damp and wet all the time for wood rot to advance. It's much more likely that you'll start to see mold growth in as little as 48 hours as mold spores are everywhere on your home construction site. Beware that on raw wood moisture does get trapped in the hardware connections that can reduce withdrawal and sheer strength. The greater likelihood is that you will see mold growth where decay starts and hides in behind connection and is not and evident. These mold spores are abundant in the air and all the dirt and saw dust on all construction site and they only need water to start their growth process that can happen in as little as 48 hours after a rain.

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Mass Timber Buildings have many hardware connections that can trap water to development rot without it being evident so consider defending all those cut wood connection with a Polymer with a Biocide that is non corrosive so the engineering values are defended from the constant wetting during long framing schedules.

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Mass Timber Panels and Posts leave the dry condition of a factory and are subjected to weather and rain in most all regions multiple times during long framing schedule and tight job site storage conditions.When you see the stain on lumber after the dry wood gets wet and stayed wet during long rain in most cases in site while it was being stored. When it warms In spring the growth of the mold and mildew can be rapid. You do not want to cover up black stain that could be mold its should-be cleaned before drywall is installed.

The big hidden problem with our extremely wet weather is US builders have been struggling for the last 3 years with big mold issues on 5 story high density wood framed projects subjected to long framing schedules. Make no mistake mass timber uses the same lumber that the studs in 5 story stick framed use. This has been a huge cover up lots of mold cleaning going on from coast to coast.

Since Construction Defects over Mold and Air Quality is nothing new to buildings and Insurance Risk Management Teams we have to consider tall wood structure will be targeted by Construction Defect Attorneys. The sick building syndrome SBS is risk that describes when occupants say they have acute health problems from things like mold that is a natural problems that grows on wet wood and very hard for builders to defend when the target could be the liability policy and just a settlement. The Plaintiff Attorneys know there is no real history in tall mass timber when it comes to Mold or Fire.

One of the latest waves of claims to hit the construction industry is a convergence of both toxic tort and construction defect. Often known as "sick building syndrome," these claims involve the contamination of the interior of building structures by mold, the infestation of which can severely damage the building, as well as cause bodily injury and sickness to its occupants. When the infestation of the indoor environment of the building by mold is caused by excess water and infiltration due to construction defects, major litigation can arise. This litigation presents unique coverage issues in addition to those which already surround insurance coverage for construction defects.

Since the presence of mold often releases spores into the internal environment, these claims raise unique issues with respect to the applicability of the pollution exclusion to the bodily injury or property damage arising out of the mold. Courts seem hesitant to apply the standard Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), pollution exclusion to such damage or injury largely on the theory that mold may not constitute the type of "pollutant" to which the exclusion is directed. Nor is indoor contamination regarded as the type of environmental dispersal or release to which the exclusion traditionally applies.

Many mold claims are limited to bodily injury. However, the cleanup of the mold infestation and the repairs necessary to accomplish the cleanup, as well as to prevent future excess moisture in the building, will likely generate a companion property damage claim. With regard to bodily injury, the pollution exclusion in the standard commercial general liability (CGL) policy issued to a contractor will potentially affect the availability of coverage. As to property damage issues, it is likely that the pollution exclusion will have less effect.

Accredited Applied Science is readily available in the US so Architects can now specify additional Fire, Mold and Water Repellency to be add to mass timber panels and posts before they leave the dry factory setting and subjected to todays extremely wet weather.

It doesn’t matter what other countries are doing the US should raise the bar now before a big defect claim or arson event to make our tall wood structures better than anywhere else. When US Architects and Builders add applied science we can truly stand behind the claims of renewable and sustainable. The true green starts when we respect what trees do to sequester CO2 and leave behind Carbon in wood so we defend that carbon storage from fire that would only release it back into our environment. Applied Science Fire Defense with E84 extended test results lowers risk especially for the Insurance Provider, Fire Marshalls and Plan Checkers and when we add biocide supported by 4 weeks and ASTM testing we are lower risk hoping to lower builders risk premiums.

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