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Mold is driving hundreds from their new luxury complex
Saturday, 01 December 2007

Officials try to discover source of mold in Westbury
The architects and engineers who helped design and construct the Archstone Westbury rentals -- where water damage and mold are driving hundreds from their homes.  Deery said most construction is completed when inspectors aren't watching. Architects and engineers certify their own work, swearing in affidavits that their projects comply with codes.

Officials try to discover source of mold in Westbury
Video Report
The architects and engineers who helped design and construct the Archstone Westbury rentals -- where water damage and mold are driving hundreds from their homes -- told the Town of Hempstead that the luxury complex complied with plans and town building codes, according to officials and papers filed at town hall.

With this information, town inspectors made "numerous" visits to Archstone Westbury as it was being built, scrutinizing construction to make sure it complied with code, said Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery.

It's not clear yet what caused the extensive water damage throughout the complex that's forcing hundreds to leave by March.

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Mold at Westbury luxury apartments    Video
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Archstone Westbury dwellers deluged with offers
Resident files suit over mold damage
Tenants amid mold weigh options in Westbury
Uniondale multi-family rental home shut down 

 
Deery said most construction is completed when inspectors aren't watching. Architects and engineers certify their own work, swearing in affidavits that their projects comply with codes.

"You can't be everywhere at once," Deery said.

Like other municipalities, Hempstead's town code relies heavily on these promises, town officials say, especially when they're large projects -- defined as bigger than 10,000 square feet. Architects and engineers found to have falsely certified projects risk losing their state-issued licenses.

Writing to the town on May 27, 2005, architect Perkins Eastman said they observed the buildings to be "in conformance with professional standards of practice for safeguarding life, health, property, and public welfare." People began moving into the complex that year.

A spokesman for Perkins Eastman did not return messages left by phone and e-mail seeking comment.

Water damage on the scale described at Archstone Westbury, where moisture has apparently seeped into the interior walls of all 21 buildings, points to a systemic problem probably stemming from a design defect, said Lawrence A. Kushnick, a Melville lawyer who specializes in construction law.

To keep water out, architects can specify that metal or rubber edging called flashing be installed along vulnerable points: roof edges, windows and places where brick or stone facing attaches to a building. Once water gets in, insulation and drywall can trap it, soaking up moisture and worsening the problem.

The damage prompted the firm this week to order the gated community's renters to leave by March. Repairs will take a year, the company estimates. The developer says it has yet to determine the cause.

Staff writer Jennifer Smith contributed to this story.
http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-limold1130,0,1240443.story
 
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