KGW investigates new Tualatin home full of mold

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by By WAYNE HAVRELLY, kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on July 20, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 28 at 12:16 PM

TUALATIN, Ore. -- It's more than a home to Mark Hughes.

"I've had deer down here, an otter lives in the creek and ducks visit nearly every day," said Hughes.

'Dream home' a moldy mess

He designed the newly constructed Tualatin home for his two kids and as a place to hold workshops for his non-profit organization that counsels teens. The place is now uninhabitable because of what's lurking behind the walls.

Independent tests showed black mold everywhere. The mold is apparent on studs, drywall and installation.

The Hughes family moved out after just 9 months in their dream home. The family videotaped their experience as a dank smell overtook the home along with moisture seeking insects.

"Look at this - thousands of ants are going into the ceiling they are throughout the house. I just, I just can't live here," said 13 year old Nick Hughes right before moving out.

His 17-year-old sister Taylor said, "My throat started itching. I instantly got congested and my nose started running. I also got terrible headaches after being in the house for only minutes."

The Hughes family decided to pitch an army surplus tent. They lived in the yard while they worked to find a solution. It was fun at first, but the novelty wore off in about 3 months.

Hughes claims his builder won't cooperate to fix the moldy mess, neither will his insurance company which excludes mold coverage relating to construction. Hughes says even his lender refused to discuss the issue unless he was three months behind on his mortgage payments.

"I vacillate between sadness and rage, where I am just livid that this kind of thing can happen to people and you know what? Nobody seems to care. I mean, it's mind boggling," said Hughes

Photographs taken during construction appear to show how the home's builder Chris Baldwin framed the house during intense winter rains.

"I went to him and said 'aren't you going to dry this out?' 'Oh no we do this all the time,' even though there were subcontractors that said this needs to be dried out before you put up sheetrock. Well, he didn't dry it out," claims Hughes.

An attorney representing the builder Chris Baldwin of Woodland, Washington would not comment on the case, saying his client is in the middle of litigation.

Hughes claims independent mold experts estimate it will cost at least 400,000 dollars to make the home safe to live in.

Hughes hired an attorney, broke down the tent and moved into an apartment. His kids moved in with their mother.

"If the builder or the builders attorneys or the builders insurance company don't think mold is an issue, then I invite them to come and I'll furnish the house and they can move in here with their families and live here for six months and if they do that, I'll drop the case.

About 14 months after being forced out of his dream home, there is no end in sight to this moldy financial and emotional mess.

For more information about protecting your family from toxic mold: |

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