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Mold-Free Construction™ - The Introduction



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INTRODUCTION--Reason for Writing

This book is truly a "work in progress". When I began this work some time ago, I had no clear concept of the magnitude of the mold issue. I soon discovered that what I thought I knew was only that--a thought, an opinion, an idea, an impression. As I began to develop my thinking through my own personal research, I came to some very clear, but disturbing conclusions. Mold, in our indoor environments, is a major health issue and the way we build those environments is the single largest contributing factor to its proliferation! Of course I know that MOLD IS EVERYWHERE, in virtually every indoor environment. What I didn't know was that the numbers of people now being affected by these allergens is INCREASING every single day--DRAMATICALLY increasing! Hardly a day goes by that the local newspaper, wherever I happen to be, doesn't carry some article on mold or mold-related issues. It is a major problem. More importantly, it needs to be addressed by every single person who is considering building or remodeling. Because builders and homeowners, who want to build, have some control over creating healthy or unhealthy living environments, they should understand the Mold-Free Process™ of construction and make every decision within its context. If I have control, I intend to take control. I suspect that's your motivation for reading this book! You want a healthy environment for yourself and your family. You want to reduce the possibility that mold and mildew will find a home in which to proliferate! We're on the same page.

I believe outlining our goals will help you understand where we intend to go with this work and where we do not intend to go. Though my licensing has given me a vast background of experience in all types of construction, I knew that if this book was over the head of the average person it would be useless. Therefore, I do not intend to flood you with technical data or industry jargon that is overwhelming; however, I need to be as specific as possible about every phase of the construction process. Therefore, you may want to keep a good construction dictionary close by in case there is some word or phrase you need to define or clarify. My goals are simple: write the book so it is timely and relevant, understandable for the average person, and practical so it will be used.

TIMELINESS--There is presently a "mold-scare" of monumental proportions inundating us on a daily basis. News agencies, investigative reporters, government inspectors, health professionals, lawyers, and others are constantly researching the incidents of mold infestation and reporting their findings. In many cases these concerns are blown out of proportion to the actual damage that is being done. Some people become petrified at the very thought that mold might live in their indoor environment. In other cases, the mold problems are minimized and reduced to what is ultimately described as a mere nuisance. Neither of these extremes address the reality of the problem. The timeliness of producing a work like this that specifically addresses the real mold problem couldn't be better because I'm convinced that the major source of mold problems in our home is as a result of the way we have constructed our indoor air environments. We're going to be talking about this is some detail later. The fact of the matter is that we have brought most of these mold problems on ourselves. It's easy to under why because we have put other things at the top of our list besides a Mold-Free Process™ of construction. For instance, we're often more concerned about the size of the rooms and the "look" of the house than the Mold-Free Process™. If you are currently in the building process or considering building in the near future, this book couldn't be more timely because you will now be able to make some decisions that will affect your indoor air environment for years to come. I've also included some very important ways to keep your indoor environment mold-free so even the person who is not planning to build in the near future can benefit from the ideas I have to offer.

UNDERSTANDABILITY--One of the reasons why the Mold-Free Process™ has taken a back seat on the list of priorities is because the average person does not understand the construction process so they're satisfied to leave the decision-making process to the professionals. There is no doubt that the construction industry is a complicated business because, for one thing, it has its own terminology. It is also a fast-paced industry where decisions need to be made quickly so the construction process will not be slowed. These combined elements of confusion and pressure overwhelm the average person so when they are asked to make decisions that affect the construction of the home, they abdicate that authority to the more knowledgeable building professional. Major questions like, "should we conventionally frame or pre-fab the trusses?" may require more time to decide than you have the luxury of giving. "Would a laminate cabinet be better than a Corian counter top?" "Should the plumber use CPVC, PVC, copper, polybutilene, or PEX?" You can see how it would be easy to make this book so technical that only a licensed General Contractor could understand it--but then that would defeat my goal of making sure that it is understandable to everyone who is considering building. Whether you intend to build for yourself or supervise the construction through a licensed Contractor, you should be able to ask intelligent questions and make intelligent decisions that will affect the life of you and your family for years to come. That can't happen unless you understand the points we'll be making throughout this book. To be involved in the decision-making process is extremely important. Therefore, I've use terminology that is easy to understand.

PRACTICALLITY--I've tried to lay this book out in a very practical, useable fashion. Beginning with CHAPTER TWO--Mold: Why and How it Aggravates Allergies, you will learn about the magnitude of the mold "epidemic" and then you can decide whether you believe the rest of the book is important enough for you to continue reading. Then, as you progress through the book, you will find me following the progression of the normal building process. We'll start from the ground up and talk about the foundation, the framing, the dry-in, the plumbing, all the way to the completion of the project and beyond. You can read a chapter at a time, if you'd like, as the building is being constructed and know exactly what to look for at each step of the construction process. Along the way you will find suggestions marked with a symbolizing a key point in the Mold-Free Process™ of construction. Then, at the end of the book, I've compiled all those suggestions in a Mold-Free Process™ Checklist for you to track the progress of the construction of your home. By making this book practical, you will use it. And that's my goal!

I think it's important for you to know why I believe I have a right to have an opinion about how you build your house. The Mold Free Process™ of construction is the result of many years of experience (in fact 26+ years) in the construction industry, in the IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) industry, and on the training/speaking circuit to help people deal with mold and mildew issues. As a member of the Advisory Board for the National Indoor Air Quality Institute, you would be able to read the following profile online regarding why they selected me as one of their partners.

CREDENTIALS

  • State Certified Class "A" General Contractor
  • State Certified Master Roofing Contractor
  • State Certified Master Plumbing Contractor
  • Licensed Indoor Air Quality Consultant
  • Environmental Consultant
  • NIAQI Trainer/Speaker
  • NIAQI Advisory Board Member
  • Certified Mold Inspector
  • Certified Mold Remediator
  • Certified Mold Project Manager

PROFILE

"Mr. Hoffman has been involved in the construction industry since 1978. While working as a General Contractor he specialized in commercial leasehold improvements as well as new commercial construction, residential new construction, residential renovations, and remodeling. For nearly 19 years, he owned and operated two other specialty companies, a roofing company which specialized in commercial roofing applications, specifically roof tile and certified flat deck roofing, and a plumbing company which primarily focused on repairs and service with occasional new construction installations.

In 1996 Mr. Hoffman became a licensed IAQ Consultant and directed his attention to IAQ Training and Consulting. He does extensive training in the IAQ Field and appears monthly on a local radio talk show in New Orleans, LA as a guest speaker on the Susan Bernecker Show called 'The Health Connection'. There he answers questions regarding the health affects and allergens related to mold, mildew, and other indoor air contaminants.

He is also active in the public speaking arena offering seminars and workshops on Indoor Air Quality and Drinking Water Quality which address the major concerns of solutions for both environmental issues."

One of the most important things I want you to understand is that you have options all along the way in the construction process. These options will allow you to make decisions to insure the Mold-Free Process™ is being followed. By choosing wisely, you will give your family years of mold-free living in your new home. I understand that sometimes your options are limited by your financial resource. Very few of us are able to do whatever is best regardless of the cost. Therefore, I want you to understand the philosophical platform for this work as it addresses that very issue--available financial resources.

If I took the approach, as some have taken, to solving mold problems as if "money is no object" then YOU would object. Money is always an object that must be considered. I read some of the solutions to mold problems and I wonder "who could possibly afford this solution?" Unfortunately, the mantra of a reactionary insurance industry, with the help of some less-than-scrupulous attorneys, has become "It's cheaper to raze the building than to fix the problem." I believe there is a different way. I have tried to look at the choices that you need to make and consider what is the most cost-effective way to accomplish the Mold-Free Process™? It's not always the cheapest solution but it is certainly cheaper than the doctor's bills that might result from having mold infestation in your new home. If you will take the time to step back and look at the construction process, you will see that decisions you make along the way are considerably cheaper than the decisions you may have to make to solve a problem after construction is complete. Like so many things, if you start with the right foundation, you're ahead of the game and can be sure you've built the right kind of house!

The other important aspect of how I've approached this issue is this--my interest is in looking out for YOUR interests. YOU have to live in this environment once it's created so YOU should have the power to make informed decisions that will utilize the Mold-Free Process™ and create a clean, healthy environment for you and your family. Let me assure you that no one on the construction site is as concerned about your family's health as you are. And there are very good reasons for that. Let's consider some of those reasons.

The priority of the Contractor is to get the house done as quickly as possible and get it done under budget. One of the unique characteristics of the building industry is that the builder must price the product BEFORE it is constructed. That's not an easy task so he is always looking at his checkbook. His priority doesn't allow for tons of decisions to be made in the middle of the project because it might slow the process and hold up his draw. Often he is working on a draw schedule and he will not be happy if he has to wait for you to make a decision before he gets his next draw. Every Friday a payroll comes due and his priority is to make sure everyone is paid for the work they've completed that week. It's just not fair to expect the Contractor to "hang out" waiting for you to decide how best to implement the Mold-Free Process™. Read the book early in the process and make your decisions BEFORE you start construction. Utilize the Mold-Free Process™ Checklist and be prepared when you first sit down with your Contractor to begin the construction process. I've provided a "Homeowner's Special" at a discount price that includes both the paperback and the workbook format. This allows you to purchase the workbook for yourself and give the paperback to the contractor so he will be informed of your desires. He will be happier and that will, in turn, make you happier through the construction of your home. Believe me! The Mold-Free Process™ Checklist will help produce a stress-free building project.

The priority of the Municipal Building Inspector is to make sure the Contractor has "followed the rules" of construction. Yes, the inspector is concerned about your safety but only as it relates to the Southern Standard Building Code or whatever Building Code controls his jurisdiction. Whether you decide on a monolithic slab or a piling frame construction is not his concern. His concern is that, however you decide to build, it must be constructed according to code requirements. It is evident that mold issues have taken a back seat to the code requirements. Consider for a moment the numbers of newly constructed buildings, in the last few years, where they've found major mold issues during the very first year of occupancy. Some have never even been occupied. It's only logical to conclude that inspectors aren't aggressively looking for potential mold problems in the construction process. That's just not their area of expertise.

The priority of the Mortgage Lender is, primarily, financial. He wants to pay for only what has been built or for materials stored on the construction site. He is interested in his investment-to-loan value ratio. Of course you understand that the draw schedules are designed to reimburse the Contractor for building materials and labor that have been installed or stored to improve your property. The Mortgage Lender's primary interest, then, is in being sure that he has gotten his money's worth. It should be obvious that he has little concern over the decisions you make in regards to the Mold-Free Process™ of construction. The Mortgage Lender has a job to do but it isn't to look out for your interests in regards to the Mold-Free Process™ of construction.

The bottom line is this: it's YOUR responsibility to be sure you have built your home utilizing the power of the Mold-Free Process™. Don't rely on someone else to make the decisions only you can make regarding the construction of your home. Not only can you be sure the home is constructed to your satisfaction, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you've taken care of the issues of mold and mildew in your indoor environment.

Let me talk a moment about HOW TO USE this book. I am a highlighter. Well, I guess I'm not a highlight but I like to use one when I read. I like going through a book and highlighting the sections of interest. Then, I take it a step further and go to the back of the book and create an index by page number of the items of interest. I normally try to put those suggestions in some sort of alphabetical order. This way it is very easy for me to go directly to the page that I need if I want to reference it later. So, I've used this method in compiling a list of all the Mold-Free Process™ suggestions and placed them in CHAPTER ELEVEN--The Mold-Free Process™ Checklist so you can easily check the items during the construction process. How easy is that? And as if that weren't enough, I've asked you to be involved in the indexing of your own book. Check out CHAPTER TWELVE--YOUR Mold-Free Process™ Index now so you can begin indexing the book as you read each chapter.

Finally, I request your input. That's right. I gave up on thinking that I had ALL the answers several years ago so I need your help in making this "work in progress" relevant. Its success relies on input from you. As you are building, keep track of those issues that come up and jot down your questions or suggestions for improving on the Mold-Free Process™. Then get them to me. You will help millions of people live better, healthier lives.

Please take the time to go to http://www.MoldFreeConstruction.com and enter your suggestions for inclusion in my next revision. If you have a question, you can email me through the website. I need and want your input, positive or negative. Thank you…



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