LAYTON -- Buyer beware.
That's the message a West Layton couple wants to share with the community, by telling the story of their expensive battle with mold in their home.
It's been a nightmare they know could have been avoided if they had been more educated, and if they had noticed problems with their home's attic vents earlier on. If they had they would have been covered by a home warranty.
Taunya and Bryan Bingham now are facing a $15,000 project to remove and replace the roof of their home, on the 2700 block of Sandi Drive in West Layton, to get to the root of extensive mold growth in their attic. And if they and their neighbors weren't doing much of the work themselves, it would cost more than $25,000.
The project comes on the heels of a $13,000 project to remove mold under windows, which the couple said were installed improperly and had to be to replaced. One year into owning their home, which the Binghams have now been in for 17 years, they spent $2,500 to install those windows.
They put those windows in because of condensation problems in the old windows, which they now believe was likely related instead to the attic mold that was growing unnoticed.
"We had the most horrible condensation in our house," said Taunya. "We're starting to think it was because we didn't have ventilation at all."
Taunya said she now realizes that the problem originated when construction crews from Ivory Homes -- 17 years ago -- failed to put in one attic vent and covered another with a board, making it ineffective.
"I like my home," she said. "I think Ivory Homes builds beautiful homes. But this is totally a big blunder."
It's a blunder she wishes she would have noticed immediately.
But Taunya said she hopes telling about her experience will help others make smarter decisions.
"If we can save just one other family from being in this situation, it would be worth it," she said. "Check your weep holes (in your windows). Really, put up a ladder and check your venting."
Last weekend, neighbors helped the Binghams as best they could.
A yard and bake sale was held at the home across the street from the Binghams on Friday and Saturday.
And Saturday morning, a crew of neighbors arrived to help the couple start to disassemble their roof.
Before that, a collection of about $3,000 made its way into their hands from neighbors who wanted to contribute cash.
And Taunya said a neighbor who owns Raven Keller Construction and some other contractors have offered to do much of the work they need at cost.
She said it was early this year when the couple realized they had extensive mold problems under their windows.
She said she believes the problem arose when window weep holes were covered during installation. That made the windows drain inside the home's walls when rainwater collected in the windows.
"We had 89 percent moisture content in the walls when we tested," Taunya said. "The baseboards were wet to the touch. ... We had a leak in the basement, and we cut a hole to fix it. That's when we all really started to notice (the effects of mold)."
The couple and their son, who now is away at college, moved in with a neighbor in February while the cleanup and repair work under the windows was done.
The Binghams moved back into the home in June, and one week after they moved back home, they started to cough, a sign they had learned was an indication that they were being affected by mold.
That's when they looked in their attic and found extensive mold growth, especially on the north side of their home, where winter ice each year provided an additional barrier that kept moisture from escaping.
"The bathrooms are all in the middle of the house," Taunya said. "We were running the fans to get the moisture out and we were putting moisture into the attic, and it couldn't get out."
And now that they realize the problem was created in the original construction, the couple believes Ivory Homes should share in the cost of the needed repairs.
But because it has been 17 years since the home was built, the Binghams said they were told they have no legal recourse against the builder.
This summer, Ivory Homes agreed to install turtle vents in the new roof. Taunya said those will cost about $150. Also, she said, the company paid $1,000 toward the new windows 16 years ago.
David Broadbent, operations manager for Ivory Homes, said the warranty and legal obligations on the home all expired long ago.
"We care about our customers," he said in a prepared statement. "We are certainly sorry to hear the Binghams are facing challenges."
He stated that while the company strives to provide excellent customer service, in this situation, in which the home is 17 years old, the claims come long after the company's one-year contractual warranty agreement pertaining to defects in materials and workmanship.
He said it also comes many years after the seven-year time allowed under Utah law to assert a claim related to improvements to real property.
"These contractual and statutory limitations are in place to draw a line between problems which really result from defects in construction and those which result from intervening causes or are just the incidents of time and nature," Broadbent stated.
"Even though we do not have any obligation to do so, as a customer courtesy to the Binghams, we recently visited the Binghams' home and offered to install square rooftop vents in their attic to show our continued appreciation for the Binghams as our customers."
But the Binghams believe the company should help fix the problem out of a sense of integrity.
Taunya said, "I don't hate Ivory, but I do think they have a moral obligation."