The fear started with a black fuzz-spotted pillow, found pressed between her daughter’s bed and the wall in winter 2017.
Then, as a pregnant Melissa Kennedy and her husband Kyle Drover started investigating in corners, under mattresses and behind chairs – they realized they had a much bigger problem on their hands.
A toxic, carcinogenic mould had invaded the young Saanich couple’s recently purchased Gordon Head duplex.
Kennedy, Dover and their five-year-old daughter Dallas had moved into the 1969-built home at the end of August 2017. They were proud first-time homeowners, something Kennedy admits she wasn’t sure would ever happen for them.
“It was huge. We didn’t think in Victoria, we would ever own a home,” she said. “We used all of our savings that we both combined, plus help from his mom. We felt so lucky…”
A home inspection failed to notice any problems and a couple months passed with no issues. Then the cold, rainy weather started.
|Pulling furnitures away from their walls revealed the dark, toxic mould in a young Saanich family's new home. When they opened up the wall they discovered that mould have infiltrated the insulation. (Submitted)|
“Everything was fine for the first couple months and then when winter came, and the moisture came…I noticed there was mould,” Kennedy said.
Drover experienced long-lasting colds and Kennedy, then pregnant with her now seven-month-old son Colton, started to get ear infections and had to go on antibiotics.
“If your immune system is compromised, like when you’re pregnant, you can feel the effects of something like this more,” she said.
An inspection confirmed their fears: The attic of the home was riddled with mould.
Insurance refused to pay, said Kennedy, because the mould resulted from the negligence of past owners.
So the couple dished out thousands of dollars for remediation. Their pockets were pinched for another $3,000 when the family cats fell ill with breathing conditions that Kennedy thinks might have been caused by the mould.
After a few weeks, the family moved back in. Things were OK for a year or so – but the mould reappeared during this winter’s cold snap.
“I noticed the window first in our bedroom. It had bleak smeared streaks of black with white fuzz on them,” Kennedy recalled. “Then we checked every corner of everything…anything near a wall was covered.”
When Drover opened up the wall in their bedroom, they discovered the insulation was riddled with mould.
“We used a line of credit and savings for the last one…now that those are maxed out and our saving are maxed out, we’re like ‘what do we do this time?’” Kennedy said. “It’s already hard starting out in Victoria with a family – with two kids – and then something like this happening…it sucks.”
Fortunately, Kennedy’s cousin started a GoFundMe page for the family to help them with costs, and it is already nearing its $5,000 goal.
Displaced yet again, Kennedy hopes their troubles will teach other new homebuyers to be extra diligent.
“I would maybe…really look into who your inspector is. I would really talk to your realtor about inspectors more than just picking someone out,” she said.
“Maybe learn the signs of mould. I didn’t know that dark, really discoloured wood necessarily meant it was mouldy. It doesn’t look like typical mould.
“Do your research.”