Band-aid fixes are often applied to a hotel prior to selling to make the building more appealing. Catching these masked issues early on can prevent a catastrophic mold and moisture outbreak in your hotel.

CASE SUMMARY

Even though the mold growth was found behind the newly installed VWC the root cause could be traced back to a decision made just before the purchase of the hotel.

A mid-rise hotel in Tampa, Florida had recently undergone a sale. The new owner, who was changing flags, was updating the Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FF&E) to meet the brand standards for the new flag. This 400+-room hotel, located in a commercial district of Tampa, was fairly basic in design, with a corporate feel. Though there were no major influential factors present that would elevate the probability of a mold and moisture problem (such as being located next to a large body of water), the hotel was unexpectedly impacted by a severe mold problem behind new vinyl wall covering (VWC) during the renovation process.

What makes this particular case study so interesting is the fact that the Property Condition Assessment (PCA) had not detected any mold in the building, nor had the construction team observed any mold as renovations began. The mold was only discovered after the new VWC had been installed. Ironically, even though the mold growth was new, the root cause of the problem could be traced back to a decision made just prior to the purchase.


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Construction of a large luxury resort located in a warm, humid climate was coming to a close during the summer. Because the vinyl wall covering on the interior side of the exterior walls had an impermeable finish, it functioned as a vapor retarder (also referred to as a vapor barrier).

The HVAC system consisted

There’s an assumption in the hotel industry that plaster walls are not susceptible to mold growth–but don’t let your guard down. Experts at Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG) helped guide a hotel renovation team that encountered an unsuspecting mold problem in the hotel’s plaster walls that could have cost millions of dollars in remediation and lost room revenue.

Mold growth is not seen as frequently on plaster walls as it is on gypsum wallboard, primarily because there are no nutrients to support mold growth (except for any dirt or dust that might be on the plaster). As a result, any mold growth on plaster walls is often not very visible or extensive, so most hotel owners and operators in this situation feel relatively safe from mold problems. It is important to realize, however, that what unexpectedly happened to this high-end hotel with plaster walls in the heart of Washington, D.C. could happen to anyone.

CASE SUMMARY

Hotel management was attempting to fast-track a renovation project because of a high demand for room nights in this particular location of Washington, D.C. Part of the renovation process involved removing all the old vinyl wall covering on the corridor walls and in the rooms themselves, then patching and repairing the underlying plaster with skim coats, allowing that to dry before installing the new vinyl wall covering.

Much to the dismay of everyone involved, mold was found growing behind the new vinyl wall covering while renovations were still ongoing. The mold was found growing primarily on the adhesive (which served as a nutrient), as well as on any dirt and dust that might have been on the plastered surface. This mold growth caused a discoloration of the vinyl wall covering, with pink stains appearing on both the room and corridor sides of the vinyl. The discoloration was noticeable to the hotel staff and would have been noticeable to guests as well, thus bringing this fast-track renovation to a halt.


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