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DI neighbors displaced because of mold in their homes

Published on 07/16/08
By Helen Ravenel

Two neighboring families have been displaced due to mold found in their Daniel Island homes and more cases have been reported. Neighboring families in Etiwan Park, the Pittmans and the Allens are facing this situation.

The residents and experts have questioned structural issues with the builder, DR Horton, including water damage, rotting and hazardous mold.

Terrence Tully, owner of Moisture Control Experts of Summerville came over to test the Allen’s home in May.

Tully said that Ben Allen called him up complaining of being ill and concerned if it was connected to mold.

Tully came over and tested. What he found was about 8-10 different species of mold, in addition to water damage at the back kitchen door, as well as under the front windows (between siding and sheathing).

Tully said that under windows were rotted. He also noticed that the kitchen floor was “spongy feeling” near the back door.

Tully said, “this is the worst case I have seen on Daniel Island.”

D.R. Horton Inc. released the following statement to the Moultrie News saying, “D.R. Horton Inc. is committed to providing its customers with a quality home. The company has retained third-party engineers and air quality experts to examine the homeowners’ claims, and will offer to make any repairs the third-party experts recommend to correct problems with the original construction.”

The Allens immediately moved out of their home when they got confirmation that there was mold — and their doctor insisted on it.

Ben Allen, who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, has two daughters, Madeleine, 3 and Ellie 4. Madeleine has suffered serious respiratory problems and at the suggestion of their pediatrician, the family decided to vacate their home.

Allen told the Moultrie News that they have moved into a rental home.

“My wife, Joy, and my daughters, Madeleine and Ellie are all doing well now that we have stabilized ourselves into a new home,” he said. “We have received a tremendous amount of support from friends, neighbors, and even strangers. We are very grateful for all the support we have received.

The Pittmans, who were next door neighbors with the Allens, were alarmed with the mold discoveries found.

On June 27, the Pittmans had contractor David Geesaman of Cutting Edge Remodeling come take a look. Geesaman removed the siding of the second floor bedroom, which also happened to be Pittman’s 7-year-old son Anders’ bedroom.

The child who has suffered ear infections and respiratory difficulties, has had scarring and hearing loss.

His father, David Pittman, describes it as “pressure that cannot be relieved like what one might experience on a plane.”

“All of these years, we thought, gosh, he has bad luck,” Pittman said, never considering that mold is one of the prime causes of asthma in children.

“Of course he is the one who has the worst quality in the house,” Pittman said.

When we discovered the mold, we called Anders’ Specialist,” he said.

“Our house contained very elevated levels of Aspergillus/Penicilum,” Pittman said.

Most of these spores when found growing indoors are toxigenic or allergenic. Given the risks of serious illness cleanup should be handled carefully and with expert advice. People with other illnesses or compromised immune systems (chemotherapy, bronchiectasis, carcinoma, or other mycoses) are at particular risk.

Any environment where this mold/fungus is found is a potential health hazard (

“This is really uncomforting to know that our seven year old’s life was spent in this environment,” he said.

The Pittmans’ five year old son Benon has always had allergies and an itchy nose over the years.

“You cannot fix a child’s health once it has been affected,” Pittman said.

The Pittmans moved into their brand-new DR Horton home in February 2000.

Moisture Control came to their home July 1. Tully saw the same issues at the Pittmans that he had seen at the Allen’s.

“Going inside the home, I could not detect mold; there was no staining,” Tully said

According to Tully it appeared to be the same case with rotting under the windows.

The Pittmans have been staying with friends in Mount Pleasant since they moved out.

Anything porous like furniture, books, and mattresses cannot be used. Children’s stuffed animals and toys must be thrown out.

Pittman said that some of their things can be cleaned.

“Once we have a permanent place, we will try to salvage what we can,” he said. “Both children were born and raised in this house. I am scared what the future will hold,” Pittman said.

Now what?

Both the Allens and the Pittmans are being represented by Daniel-Island based attorney, Patrick McDonald.

McDonald also represents other DR Horton clients.

According to McDonald, Andy Schauder, a representative from DR Horton is coming from Greenville to investigate this weekend. He will be looking at the Allen’s home on Friday and the Pittmans on Saturday.

“Neither family has filed suit. We have chosen to comply with the South Carolina Notice and Opportunity to Cure Act—giving the contractor 30 days to come out and investigate and an additional 30 days to remediate the claim, settle or deny it. Both of my clients have been displaced,” McDonald said.

He said that he has asked that the scope of the investigation is, whether there will be destructive testing, such as knocking into walls, but he has not gotten a clear answer.

McDonald has requested that Mr. Tully be present during these investigations.

Allen released a statement on behalf of his attorneys, “The Allen’s are open to a fair and amicable resolution that deals with the home and physical concerns; however, they are prepared to continue their fight for as long as necessary to achieve a fair outcome.”

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