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Mold Conquers Home In Homebuyer’s Nightmare

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A St. Paul couple is stuck in a homebuyer’s nightmare.

The Tambornino’s home is now threatening their health. The trouble started as soon as they moved in.

From the outside, the house at 287 Blair Ave. looks like your average St. Paul home, but on the inside, life for the Tamborninos is anything but ordinary.

“It eats away at my happiness, my soul every day,” said De Tambornino, a first time homebuyer.

Instead of making use of the entire two-story home, De only stays in one plastic covered room.

“I have to shower at the gym at work. I can’t walk out into my kitchen and cook dinner,” she said.

Mold throughout the home, from the basement to the second floor, has put her and her husband Mike’s health in jeopardy.

“I have immediate respiratory reactions when I come into the house,” said De.

The only way De can leave the room is with a respirator. That’s not exactly what the Tamborninos had in mind when they decided to buy about a year ago.

“We knew we weren’t getting a perfect house,” she said. “We didn’t expect a perfect house, but what we paid for was a move-in ready home.

The couple said their inspector only found minor problems, and the seller agreed to roof repairs in the purchase agreement.

“We believed them, because we didn’t think we had to not believe them,” De said.

The Tamborninos never had a final walk-through and didn’t know their inspector could come back.

“They attempted to repair, but the repairs made the roof leak more, was maliciously repaired,” she said.

From that point on, the Tamborninos said they were stuck in a game of back-and-forth with the seller. They said they tried to have the roof fixed, but were ignored. All the while moisture was seeping through the leaky roof, triggering mold in the basement to spread.

“It’s hard to get up in the morning and that’s sign of long term mold exposure,” Mike Tambornino said.

After hiring a lawyer, the Tamborninos learned the house had a long list of deficiencies. The city listed items that needed to be corrected before it was put on the market including basement moisture and mold.

“I know for a fact that the certificate for compliance didn’t get issued until June. There should not have been a sale,” said Ricardo Cervantes, the director of the Department of Safety and Inspections in St. Paul.

The Tamborninos are now planning to sue and have a message for other first-time homebuyers.

“Always make sure you do final walk through and make sure inspector comes back. Had we done the final walk through, we would have never moved into the house,” Mike said.

We tried to contact the seller, Twin Cities Real Estate Partners, who did not return our calls. The contractor who remodeled the home said that the job was completed to code, to law, and to ordinance.

Another business associate said that the Tamorninos wouldn’t be satisfied with any work.

*UPDATE: Twin Cities Real Estate e-mailed WCCO and said all the work was done well, and that the Tamborninos knew exactly what they were getting. They say the city signed off on the renovations to the vacant house and issued a new occupancy permit.

They also accused the couple of damaging their own house on purpose to get money in a lawsuit. The Tamborninos said they took apart some areas of the home to help find mold, but that they’ll pay for any of that damage.

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