Buyer Beware Of Moldy Home

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

April 20, 2005

All Larry Butler wanted was a home to share with his wife and four children, but what he got was a house infested with black mold. The house passed inspection, noting some mold was found under some sinks. However, two days after the closing, Butler discovered mold behind almost every wall in the house.

"My oldest daughter, she got sick and she ended up in the emergency room and she was only exposed to it for a couple of hours, so that’s how bad it was in the house," said Butler.

"Of course, our friends were getting sick and I was like, go to the doctor and send me the bill," said Judit Szaloki, Butler's wife.

Extensive medical bills and a mortgage on a house his family can't live in, have left the Butlers almost bankrupt. According to real estate attorney, Bill Tucker, the Butler's have no recourse. "I believe he's got a problem. From the standpoint that of the law in Virginia is caveat emptor, which means let the buyer beware and he did have some knowledge that there was this problem," said Bill Tucker.

Now what? "Pray, everyday, pray," said Larry Butler.

Butler thought his prayers would never be answered until two men that he calls angels offered to remove the mold in this house for $1.

"Bob Fenwick, he has a company called Homework Productions. He put in a system in our house that will keep the water from collecting in the walls," said Butler.

The second angel was the owner of Service Masters, Steve Taylor, who took on the job that would have cost $60,000, for free.

"This young couple was in a pretty bad situation. I was excited when I bought my first house and I might have overlooked a few things myself, just in the excitement. We just saw an opportunity to help somebody because we have the expertise, the knowledge of how to deal with this sort of thing," said Steve Taylor.

"With nice people like Bob Fenwick and Steve Taylor, and the rest of the community giving us their support, I think we'll pull through okay," said Butler.

To prevent this from happening to you, experts recommend if you're a first time home-buyer you should find out if there has been any previous water damage in the home before you purchase it.

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