Once the epicenter of mold litigation, Texas has seen a calming of both lawsuits and consumer fear about mold. While no exact figures on the current docket of cases pending are available, Texas builders tell us they feel the pressure lifting.
Ray Dyer, director of regulatory affairs for the Texas Association of Builders in Austin, says several factors have worked to cool “what some have dubbed hysteria” about mold in recent years. He adds, however, that builders should still “consider mold issues extremely serious.”
Another Austin-based custom builder, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that one big reason mold litigation has slowed can be traced to home insurance companies. Most every policy now includes a clause that rejects claims related to household mold.
“My take is that there are no deep pockets to go after any more,” the builder says. “One of the things that happened is that the insurance companies weren't prepared for [mold]. They were used to coming in to a house with a leak and drying out the air for three days to fix the problem. They found the mold problems took weeks of drying.”
In addition, he says, now that consumers have learned that they may have to disclose mold problems when reselling their homes, they have become much less likely to take the issue to court because of the downward impact on resale value.
And builders now deal with potential mold problems much more quickly. “One contractor I know says that when someone calls with any kind of leak in the home, he responds immediately,” notes Dyer. “You still can't discount the importance of this issue.”
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Learn more about markets featured in this article: Austin, TX.