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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 8532
Experience:  Retired contractor, 51 years experience
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I have question as to standard in construction industry in

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I have question as to standard in construction industry in finishing a basement We have a property in Rhode Island that is very old. In 2004 we did a major project on finishing and then building additional bedrooms in the basement. The contractor literally wheel barrowed the dirt out of the basement to finish it, there have been mold problems to the point now that there is substantial black mold behind the drywall. A contractor who looked at it said our contractor made a mistake in not using mold resistant drywall. Is mold resistant drywall a standard in the industry for finishing a basement? Also we just learned that contractor never got permits for the project even though it was agreed that he would handle all the plans and permits etc. two questions, did contractor fail to meet industry standard when he failed to use moisture and mold resistant drywall. Also are we the homeowners in trouble for the contractors failure to get building permits? We live in California, house is in Rhode Island, it was very clear that contractor was responsible for all plans and permits.
Welcome to Just Answer!

You as the owner are not liable for contractors failure to pull permits IF the contractor holds a valid contractors license for the work done and he contracts to pull the permits.

Mold resistant dry wall (green dry wall) is not a standard per se, since the basement walls can and should be sealed in other ways, various epoxy based coatings are used... as well as ventilated heavy plastic vapor barriers, these are very complex issues. you will get as many opinions on this issue as people you ask in most cases. there are countless variables, those change with the seasons.

Additionally, the back side of moisture resistant dry wall is *paper.. the paper once damp is food for the mold. in many cases its best not finish the basement at all, just seal the walls, so that any moisture will evaporate.

It would be the contractors failing to properly seal and vapor barrier the basement. That aspect should be a prominent part of his contract... if he left that out it would take an attorney to decide if you had a case or not.

(even if the basement walls are sealed, they can get cold and condense water from the room onto their sealed surfaces.

Even if he had used mold resistant dry wall, other items stored in the basement would become a mold issue if the basement was not properly sealed. Local building codes will be the ruling factor here as assessed by a local building inspector.

An inspectors rulings are *senior to the building code in most cases.. the building code is just a *minimum standard. A good inspector would have seen the problem with old construction and knowing the area would have insisted on sealing the basement... and he could also have insisted on mold resistant dry wall....the fault would be with the contractor not pulling the permit, presenting plans, and getting inspections....breach of his contract.


Remediation is possible if caught early before the mold spores spread to the rest of the house... you should hire a mold remediation specialist, an honest one with a good reputation to look the situation over...

The cure involves industrial strength ozonation after the mold and moldy materials are removed, then use of a dehumidifier. I would not finish the walls in this case either, i would seal them and leave them bare... keeping the basement warm and dry will be necessary.

Lets hope the contractor has deep pockets, is bonded and has liability insurance.. black mold can ruin an entire building. You can get his contractors license number and check all that on line.

(it will pay you to work with one of our Just Answer attorneys on these issues, attach my answers here on the technical issues. the attorney will need that data... if the contractor is licensed, most states require a bond, 25,000 dollars in California for instance.... you would likely have a claim on his bond..)

If you wish to rate my answers to date *positively I will hold the question open for as long as needed, months or longer for any needed follow up or elaboration.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If I call building inspector to assess the damage and whether contractor 'iWork is substandard ( he was licensed an had insurance policy I have reportedaclaimto) but to support claim indeed to provide proof that he did poor work. Will I get in trouble with building department for no permit? Are their independent inspectors that could give me a report without charging an arm and a leg?

This is a major problem. I cannot afford mold removal ow it is estimated at at least 20-40 k, gutting the basement to rebuild properly according to one contractor is $125k.

The air quality in basement was tested and is bad. We are not allowing any tenants in the basement, and so far it has not spread to rest of house. This is a rental property major university that we rent to students, needless to say it is pretty much worthless with this problem.

Any suggestion on how to get a inspector without facing a prohibitive fine is greatly appreciated.

Thank you


Hello again, it is quite unlikely that *you will get in trouble for no permit by calling in the local building inspector. But there can be a wide range of other ramifications too numerous to mention.


You should contact the right attorney first. More on that later.



any licensed mold remediation people you have talked to should be good enough for supporting the insurance claim. You will need at least 2 of those reports and quotes.

You could also be sued by the tenants, that would be an expensive proposition... . win or lose..

After you rate my advice to you here, I will forward your issue here to our management who will ask one of the attorneys who posts here to look the situation over for you.

and I will also hold this question open so you can continue with me on the same dime so to speak, as needed.



Phil and other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Hello again, thanks for the positive rating!

I have forwarded this thread to our management who will notify the most appropriate attorney who can open a legal question for you. The attorney can do research on who in your area will best be able to handle the insurance and construction claim for you... you might want to discuss an option for his continued follow up and coaching as this situation transpires... its most likely not going to be easy.

Please keep me posted.


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