A man is now thinking about “being homeless” rather than living in moldy conditions after his flat has been “ruined by black mold” for almost 10 years. Blaan Paterson, 48, blames the Scottish government and is in dispute with his local council over claims that cavity wall insulation led to damp conditions. Mr Paterson from Calderwood in Scotland said the problems started after contractors installed the insulation in 2011 as part of the Universal Home Insulation Scheme (UHIS) which was administered by South Lanarkshire Council which manages the building.
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Speaking to the BBC, the flat owner said: “It was not long afterwards that the black mold started appearing everywhere in the flat. It was in the skirting boards, the wallpaper, just everywhere. And within about a couple of years, the place was just decimated by black mold.”
Mr Paterson finds it hard to keep furniture close to the walls of the flat due to fears of mold spreading all over the household items.
He is now desperate for help and claimed: “You’re just left in a situation where you don’t know who to turn to. All this for work that I didn’t even agree to have carried out. This was a Scottish government scheme that has completely ruined my home. And there is no help anywhere to get it fixed.”
The work was carried out by Carillion Energy Services, formerly known as Eaga. The firm along with its parent company Carillion Plc, has since gone into liquidation. Investigations by an industry body that offers warranties on the work, recommended insulation be removed in 2016, but the mold continued to spread after the work was complete.
In a statement, the industry body, Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) said Carillion Plc had removed the insulation but found there was an initial extraction carried out without its knowledge.
The industry body said: “We have subsequently inspected the property on more than one occasion and found nothing to suggest that any cavity wall insulation remains in the property. All issues, deterioration, and mold spore development within Mr Paterson’s property were initially and subsequently confirmed. to be unrelated to the installation or extraction of cavity wall insulation.”
CIGA added that the agency was “unable to be of any further assistance”.
The home insulation scheme was launched in 2011 when millions of pounds were spent by local authorities “retrofitting” older homes with cavity wall insulation. In South Lanarkshire, more than 9,000 homes were involved in the scheme.
BBC Scotland visited 15 properties in the area where owners complained of persistent dampness and mold in flats built in the 1960s. The BBC visited Mr Paterson’s neighborhood of Calderwood, including blocks at Waverley and Durward. The majority of residents who spoke to the BBC said their problems started after the insulation was installed in 2011.
CIGA said it had not received any complaints from a list of addresses provided by the BBC.
South Lanarkshire Council’s executive director of housing and technical resources, Stephen Gibson, blames the industry body: “We have every sympathy for anyone who has been affected by the issue. “Anyone with concerns regarding the works carried out should take this up through CIGA.”
A Scottish government spokeswoman added: “We are sorry to learn about the problems the homeowners are having. We would expect that the factor for these properties will identify how best to remedy this as soon as possible. If they have identified these issues as arising from the installation of cavity wall insulation, we would expect these to be taken up with the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency.”
A semi-retired professor of architecture, Tom Woolley said: “The problem with filling up the cavity either with glass fiber and perhaps, to a lesser extent, polystyrene is that it stops the building breathing. Vapor collecting in the building or dampness that gets into the walls can’t escape because it’s blocked up by this stuff. It tends to lead to dampness and mold inside the houses. I would say there are hundreds of thousands of examples of this throughout the UK.”