As it relates to insurance claims we have transitioned from “mold is gold” to microbial remediation being excluded by most policies. Amy Siedlecki has been working as indoor environmental consultant for over 20 years and has seen her share of contrasts in the quality of mold remediation services that restoration contractors provide to clients in her market. Her company, The Mold Reporters is based in Portland, Oregon where the local hipsters boast of “keeping it weird” while under the surface the structures are dealing with the unique prevalence of moisture throughout structures. 

Like many young girls, Amy dreamed of one day crawling through rodent infested crawlspaces and inspecting mold impacted attics from Salem to Vancouver. Correction, that was not her dream. She became involved with environmental consulting when she witnessed a rising need in the greater Portland area and few service providers filling the void. Her construction background, her training in engineering and her unwavering commitment to excellence has served her well in establishing herself as one of the premier environmental consultants in the Northwest. 

The value adds of partnering with an environmental consultant include:

  • When an industrial hygienist establishes pre-remediation baseline sampling for your project your team now has data to test your completed mold removal against to demonstrate the efficacy of your efforts.  
  • Remediation protocols from an environmental consultant help to clarify the expectations between the contractor, the client and the carrier if they are involved in the process.
  • Conducting post mold removal testing helps to reduce the liability for the contractor as a third party bears the responsibility for confirming the objectives of the remediation process were achieved. 
  • A good environmental consultant can also assist in identifying sources and/or factors that contributed to microbial growth so that the contract and the client can work to prevent recurring damages from the same issues. This is especially helpful in cases where the proliferation of mold is not directly tied to a sudden occurrence of moisture like a leak or a burst pipe. 

Recommendations for contractors to elevate their remediation services

  • Ensure you discuss and establish the expectations of the client prior to starting the work. Partnering with an environmental consultant can help to establish these procedures and alleviate liability for the mold remediation contractors. 
  • Know and follow industry best practices such as those outlined in the IICRC/ANSI S520 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation. Amy notes that many restoration contractors state that they follow the S520 and yet their protocols, estimates and end product do not reflect that they adhere to these guidelines. 
  • It is very helpful to have a contractor representative present at the time of the post mold remediation visual inspection and air sampling. If there happens to be some minor changes or touch ups, those can be addressed at that time which saves all parties additional time and effort. 

Raising the bar of excellence for yourself and your industry 

In my experiences working with Amy, and other environmental consultants through the years, she sets a high standard of service in her commitment to provide detailed inspections for her clients to determine sources, remedies and protocols for addressing contaminants. Consultants and contractors can learn from her example of spending the time to thoroughly investigate the structure, compose reports that clients are able to understand and produce work strategies that will help the client to return their home or business to a safe condition. 

Amy says multiple times throughout our discussion that contractors need to do what they say they are going to do and to perform the job correctly the first time. She mentions this so many times that you can see she clearly has experience working with clients affected by poor workmanship and shares that she has been called in for litigation against contractors as well. 

Her closing comments are simple and helpful:

  • Do your job right the first time and create value for the client. 
  • Stand behind your process, including curing defects with remediation when they arise.
  • Keep your books and records consistent so that you can confirm the service you provided. 
  • DO NOT make comments of a medical nature, stick to what you know. 

Amy also recommends the book Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control published by ACIGH, which is a comprehensive guide to the assessment and control of bioaerosols in the full range of contemporary workplaces. She states that Chapter 9 is particularly relevant to those providing SARS-CoV-2 clean up services as well as those navigating essential work in the era of COVID-19. 

Thank you for reading, watching and listening to this content. The Intentional Restorer’s segment Three Questions with a Pro, brought to you in collaboration with Restoration and Remediation (R&R) Magazine and The DYOJO. Our goal is to connect, collaborate and conquer with our friends and peers in the property restoration community. You can also listen to this interview, with additional exclusive content via The DYOJO Podcast which is available on the Anchor, Spotify, Apple and Google podcasting platforms.