Mold Forces Salisbury Family Out of Newly-Purchased Home - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Mold Forces Salisbury Family Out of Newly-Purchased Home

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- It is the "American dream" to own a home. For the Widdowson family of Salisbury, that dream turned into a nightmare. Shortly after moving in, the family says the home turned out to be unlivable due to being full of mold.

According to the family, the seller knew all about the problems but sold the house despite that.

The family provided WBOC with a lab report to show the extent of the problem. According to that report, air samples taken outside the home earlier this month showed a spore count of 321 per cubic meter. Inside the home, the number was an alarming 118,000.

Based on these numbers, the Widdowson's were advised they had to leave the home immediately. Additionally, the family was told any of their belongings inside were contaminated and could not be taken with them.

As Stacey Widdowson walked us around the property, she explained what attracted her to it in the first place. It was a home within the family's budget, in the Fruitland school district and one story, making  it easy for Stacey to get around in her cane or wheelchair. It was a place to raise their two young children.   

But no more.

"On the 13th, we went to work thinking we had a home and all the stuff in it and by the time the day was over, we had nothing," Widdowson said.

How did it get to this point? The home passed its inspection. Widdowson shared a copy of the letter provided by Home Seal Services stating such.
 
"And my inspector typed up a letter after he came back out here again and said that the roof was in excellent condition, there was no mold in the house, that it appeared to be in great condition."

However, just three weeks in, Widdowson says the roof around the chimney started leaking. The roof that, according to the home listing, was brand new.

Stacey then called Gilkerson Properties, the company that sold her the home, and gave her a warranty on the roof.

"They kept coming out and patching it and no matter what they did, it didn't work," she said.

Chris Gilkerson said in a statement to WBOC, "Our goal is to fix the roof leak and honor our roof warranty that was originally provided to the buyers. We have brought in a second roofing company to assist with identifying and repairing the roof problems, but for some time now the buyers have been uncooperative with allowing us access to complete the repairs."

Stacey brought in a contractor she knew, who said there was no way the roof was new. Stacy said a piece of drywall by the chimney was cut out to assess the situation.

"We pulled out a bunch of black, moldy insulation, dry wall. It was disgusting," she described.

That is when Stacey had the air samples taken. And just like that, the family had to walk away with nothing.

"My kids wake up crying every night because they want to go home," she said. "My daughter, that is two, has nightmares, because she just wants her piggy. That's not fair."
     
As for the mold, Gilkerson said, "We recently received a mold report from the buyers. We were not aware of a mold problem when the house was sold, nor did any mold issues arise during the inspection period before the property was sold."

Gilkerson further explained, "We have notified our insurance company and forwarded them the mold report."

Neighbor Rick Martin said the home sat empty for the past few years, prior to the Widdowson's moving in, with several feet of water reaching from the basement to the first floor.

"The mold was at least a half inch thick on every inch of this house," he noted. "All the neighbors had known. We thought the house was going to be demolished."

Martin described how a tree had fallen on the home, caving the roof in and leaving the home exposed for at least a year.

We tried to contact the home inspector, Lou Schneider of Home Seal Services.
     
WBOC did not hear back from Schneider prior to this story airing.
     
Stacey and her family are now living in an apartment with donated items. She said she has hired a lawyer and is getting an estimate as to how much it would cost to clean the mold from all her family's items inside the house.

Stacey said she wants Gilkerson to buy the home back and pay for any health-related costs to the family.

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