Do I need a mold specialist, a window guy, a general contractor, or all three?
August 7, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I have to replace a rotted out bathroom window by the shower, but I'm pretty confident that there's a bad mold problem in the shower wall beneath the window. Who should the first call be made to to resolve this?

A few months ago we cut out a mold spore that appeared in one of the cracks in the window sill and this morning what appears to be a clover (?!?) sprouted out of another crack. We've put off addressing this for far too long and now I'm not sure where to start the process.

Our townhouse is about 12 years old and I now question if the window was ever treated properly to be in a shower. We haven't noticed any health issues, but it's something that will only get worse and should have been taken care of years ago before it got this bad. Should the first call be a window guy, a mold specialist, a general contractor, or someone entirely different? Ideally there would be one contractor to evaluate, take care of the mold, rebuild the wall, and put in the window - but I have a bad feeling that's unrealistic.

Google searches seem to favor scare tactic sites and paid search partners rather than advice from people that resolved similar experiences. Where do I even start this process? Is this an all-in-one problem or should I plan on needing to bring in multiple contractors for each issue?
posted by Slack-a-gogo to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ideally there would be one contractor to evaluate, take care of the mold, rebuild the wall, and put in the window - but I have a bad feeling that's unrealistic.

You can get a sense of whether that is realistic or not by calling a bunch of contractors and asking them "what services do you provide regarding bathroom mold rehabilitation?" I'd start looking in the phone book for residential contractors.

It's not impossible that the rotted window and sill are the extent of the damage, and that a simple cut-out-and-replace job will do it. It's also not impossible that you have extensive water or mold damage inside the wall. You're not going to know until somebody takes out the window and looks, so you want to call a residential contractor or carpenter (also, possibly look under "handyman") and ask what experience they have assessing and containing mold and water damage. Not because you know you need it, but because once they take out the window you'll want them to be somebody who can solve something like this.
posted by gauche at 9:06 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

We wanted to re-tile the bathroom, and when the wall came down, it was a mini-tsunami of old water. Plumbers run into this all the time. You know there's mold, you know that the wall, etc need to be replaced.

A contractor/rehab specialist should be able to handle this for you.

Bring money though. It ain't going to be cheap.

(ours was $14k and included new siding on the back of the house.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2012

There's no reason you need a bunch of specialists for this; you just need one competent person. An excellent handyman should be able to do the whole thing. Expect this person to look at the situation, tell you what he can see is wrong and what might be wrong but is unknowable until the work begins. He'll probably want a deposit so he can order an appropriate window (possibly custom sized, with privacy glass). When the window comes in he'll start work, which will involve removing whatever is there that's rotten or built incorrectly, and then rebuilding it.

Is it a tiled shower? Can you post a pic of the visible damage? Tearing into a tiled wall (or, rather, putting it back together) can indeed get pricey. Hopefully not much of that will be necessary.
posted by jon1270 at 11:02 AM on August 7, 2012

This shouldn't be that expensive. Relax.

A GOOD general contractor or window specialist can do this. Interview, interview, interview.

Once the wall is open, anything moldy gets ripped out and replaced, or hit with bleach if it's not that bad. A heater and a fan to super dry everything out, overnight should do it. Then the everything gets re-sealed.

Google. I'm pretty sure heavy duty plastic goes inside the wall to protect from future moisture. Caulk. It gets caulked after the window is installed.

If you are handy, you might even be able to do this yourself. Either way, familiarize yourself with best procedures BEFORE you start talking to anyone or hiring them, so you know exactly what is going on.

If stuff is rotted out, it sounds like so much of what is moldy will be entirely replaced, so no worries.

I know that toxic black mold exists. I also know that mold spores are literally EVERYWHERE in the air at ALL TIMES.

Most mold isn't anything you need to call the hazmat guys in for, is what I am saying.
posted by jbenben at 11:03 AM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

You may be able to call tile people to solve this. Are they big experts at sanitary demolition to avoid spreading mold spores? No, but they are experts at preventing bathroom water infiltration. We just got an estimate to do two bathroom walls and the floor for $900+ materials. The exterior waterproofing will make yours more challenging.
posted by slidell at 12:19 AM on August 8, 2012

« Older Bumper Bully?   |   Fleas got into my sewing stuff--do I need to throw... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.