Mold Conquers Home In Homebuyer’s Nightmare

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.

More from Rachel Slavik
  • Mike

    Devoid of human spirit, devoid of any sense of empathy, devoid of compassion, devoid of spirit…………….. You are devil spawn.

    They were deceived in their purchase. The house should not have been placed on the market until the problems with the home were resolved. They will get through this with some expense and help through an attorney that will ultimately be paid by the seller, Twin Cities Real Estate Partners and the inspector.

    • Defrauded

      Many home sellers have covered up mold and water problems. Read true stories from over 15 years ago where very intelligent, competent home buyers purchased newer homes with mold problems. Inspectors are only liable for what they can visually inspect. There is little regulation of inspectors. We were out our entire life savings after we purchased a 4 year old house with major water and mold problems that had been concealed.

      The sellers broke the law by selling the house before compliance.

    • Simmer Down Mike

      How do you know all this? Are you a clairvoyant?

  • Terri

    I feel for the couple, but there is a saying “Let the buyer beware” Always do your homework before buying a home, read everything you can get your hands on to help you through the home buying process. Go to classes and lastly use your HEAD not your HEART when you buy a home. It is going to be your house for quite some time, make it work for you instead of you working for it. My father who has been selling houses for 40 years has this piece of advice, always look at a house that you are looking at buying as if you are selling it. “can I sell this house tomrrow, will someone else buy it?”

  • Jen

    “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.”

    They should have hired someone themeselves to fix it & then pursued reimbursement from the seller, in court if necessary. There’s no way I’d let the roof continue to leak in my home. And if I saw mold in the basement, you’d better believe I’d have someone in asap to get rid of it, and ditto seeking reimbursement. I sure wouldn’t let it grow & walk around with a respirator on!

    • Ellie

      They’re my neighbors and I watched Mike patch the roof several times since they moved in. He had stopped the leaking till winter ice dams hit, and they were trying to save up to get it completely re-done but had too many setbacks you aren’t aware of that prevented them from getting everything taken care of. They also had mold remediators come through and abated their basement several times to reduce the levels of mold, the problem is the foundation isn’t waterproofed and mold keeps coming back till the foundation is fixed which is also a costly repair they can’t currently afford.

  • Mark from

    I feel sorry for these people, but they failed to do their homework. Was it Barnum and Bailey who said “There is a sucker born every minute?”

    • helper

      mark is just a troll.

      He tries to get people to look at his lame blog. He’s a loser with no job.

    • John Frykman

      Actually, it was P.T. Barnum. He didn’t even know Bailey at the time.

    • KM

      Mark, you are right on with your comment…they should have done their homework first. They even admit to that!! And the fact that they continue to live in this house in the condition it is in, shows a continued lack of good judgment. If they have respiratory problems…MOVE OUT! As someone else commented they should have brought in their own fix it team when it was first discovered, not waiting for the seller to fix it while the roof continued leaking.

      Your comment was not unlike a number of other comments, why yours is being singled out as being heartless is confusing to me.

      It is time for people to take responsibility for their own unwise decisions. To expect that is not being cruel or heartless!

      • M B

        And you never made a mistake as a young person? You NEVER, EVER trusted in someone to do their job and do as they said they would yet still got burnt? You’ve gone through your WHOLE life knowing everything and being omnipotent about everything?

        Lucky you.

        How do you expect these people to know this stuff in the first place? Yes, you can look on the net for some stuff, but if your inspector and real estate agent is lazy and/or incompetent and you don’t know better and have never had the experience of buying a house before, how would you know?

        Everyone keeps blaming them like they were supposed to know better. HOW? We live and learn, and have to deal with our mistakes. It must be wonderful for those who just say “MOVE OUT” to have enough money to do that. Must be nice to be rolling in the cash to be able to just say “Hey! we can go!”

        They don’t have the money or they obviously WOULD have left. SO, they are doing what they can how they can.

        Stop criticizing them for being human, and instead get off your rears and maybe suggest things that would HELP, instead of yelling at them and laughing.

        I would personally, on a warmer day, make a garden sprayer full of bleach water (look up online the best ratio for killing mold) and go through the house, spraying the moldy areas, leaving the windows open to vent the fumes. They’ve already closed off the room they live in.

      • DVS

        Yes, move out…..ya know because all people have unlimited funds and spare apartments in their pockets…I mean I do, what;s wrong with this couple? (plz sense the sarcasm here).

    • Iconoclast

      Getting sick of your crap Mark. It’s always they same. Get a life and a heart. Anybody can be like you but it takes guts to actually act like a human being.

    • Patrick

      Getting sick of your hard nosed attitude Mark. Anybody can act that part. It takes courage and guts to act like a real human being. I see through you. Get a life and stop being such a tool.

      • DS

        I agree with mark, it is not about having a heart and being human it is about stupidity and having a brain half decent people with IQ of 50 will fix tghe roof in order not to have the water leak and mold the whole house, it is like living with trash in your kitchen till it smells and routen becasue no one told yoiu that you you have to take the trash every week..l.;l

  • Brian

    Not only did the home owners not do their homework, but their realtor possibley failed them as well. Was it right the seller tried to pull a fast one, no how ever had they done the final inspection and saw these issues it would of been easier to come back at the seller at the time or to walk away. I really hope they win their case and wish them luck.

    fyi this is one of the reasons I avoided houses in the cities, to many houses where just utter junk mold, foundation issues, leaks in the walls, etc.

  • No Common Sense

    I have to agree with Mark and Jen. As I read the article, I thought the home buyers were just as culpable as everyone else. Once again, common sense was lost somewhere in the legal battle.

  • haveaheart

    Is it really necessary to call them names? if anyone wants to call anyone names and be rude, it should be towards the liars and deceiving people that would have the heart to hurt this young couple. Not only the sellers but the inspectors and Realtors as well. the sellers knew there were issues and still sold the house to a young and excited couple. Did you people ever hear the saying,If you cant say anything nice, DONT say anything at all.!!!!!! They have enough to deal with. They dont need the heartless ridicule as well. whats it going to do but make them feel worse. They are going to have to endure years of financial and possibly medical issues because of a few untrustworthy, deceiving,selfish liars because of this…

  • Allison

    I know these people and it wasn’t a question of them “not doing their homework.” The seller lied on the disclosures and the Tamborninos were promised repairs on the purchase agreement that never happened. They patched the roof to mitigate damages and abated the basement to reduce the high levels of mold present, but they are working with an extremely limited budget and didn’t have the $78,000 to spend on fixing the hidden deficiencies in that home. Their story is so much greater than what was shown here and to judge them without having all the facts is ignorant and rude.

  • JamieinMN

    I think both parties were desperate. Seller was desperate to sell, Buyer was desperate to make their first home purchase. I feel bad that this has happened to them but nobody, not even renters (at least me) would NOT do a final walk-through in a place I will call home.

  • Tonya

    You get what you pay for.

    • Jennifer

      lol and how much did they pay for it?.

  • Frustrated

    It’s my understanding that if a seller knowingly withholds critical damage on the the disclosure, that the seller is copable. Am I wrong? Also, if the home is that saturated by mold, wouldn’t the city deem it inhabitable?

    • JamieinMN

      Well, in the article it states that there were only MINOR repairs. The Buyers then asked the sellers to fix the repairs (the roof) and they agreed they would. The sellers then made the roof much worse which caused MORE leakage and MUCH more of a problem. They weren’t withholding critical damage, per-say. They just made it worse (unknowingly it seems) and left things the way they were when they closed on the house.

      • Gordon

        The article states that the Tambornino’s home inspector only found minor repairs to request be done, home Inspectors don’t do invasive testing, and they found out later that the sellers had blatently lied on the purchase agreement and covered up numerous issues that were hazardous, things a home inspector wouldn’t have found because it would need invasive testing to find. It seems more like this house was a bait and switch…they tried to sell it as this great home that didn’t need work and really it was just a pretty shellac on a rotting property.

      • Mike Tambornino

        We had done a walk through 4 days prior to closing and our realtor told us nothing had changed and that the listing agent was not available to do a final walk through. At that point we just assumed that the seller had fixed the roof and had completed everything on all of the agreements.

    • Eric

      Apparently the city wouldn’t

  • Hannah

    Why do people enjoy calling other people names when they are “suffering”? WCCO should not print those who are the rude ones!

  • JB

    The bottom line, there are scumbag sellers willing to lie big time to sell a home nowadays. I was in a similiar situation a year ago. I didn’t have the mold issue, but the previous owners lied about getting water in the basement. I contacted the previous owner to them and she said she had water in the basement every single year for 8 years, but how do you prove it. Even the next door neighbor who has lived there for 20 plus years said he has seen in the past people carrying out wet carpet after a heavy rain. The previous owner did a great job of painting over walls, the basement floor, etc.. I didn’t wait for the problem to escalate like these folks did. I went out and dropped $4500 and had drain tile and a sump pump installed. I haven’t had a drop since *knock on wood*. IYou have two years after purchase to take the seller to court. I have another year. The funny thing is, one of the sellers is a realtor, who could be in even bigger trouble if i pursure.

  • Rick

    These people are absolutely insane and clearly just trying to solve the problem by suing whoever they can to make a buck.

    They have no one to blame but themselves if they did not bother to have a proper inspection before purchasing that dump. It looks to be a clear case of a hastily purchased money pit by someone who thinks they are far more capable of their own home repairs than they really are and now they want out.

    Good luck.

    • James

      Considering that the couple has never asked for any money other than what is needed to make the repairs promised in the purchase agreement, I don’t understand how you can make the claim that they are just looking for a quick buck. The home had supposedly passed all the necessary inspections, it was found out later that the problems were hidden and lied about, anyone would’ve been duped in this situation.

    • Mike Tambornino

      read the story Rick we did have it inspected and only minor things where asked to be fixed, I was at the time a Cheif Engineer of a 10 story building I knew the house needed some work and offered under the asking price. we ended up paying full asking because the seller stated it had been remodeled with new plumbing, a new kitchen, new appliances, 2 new bathrooms and the whole place was freshly panted. The seller also stated it was in move in ready condition. at closing we didnt get keys and upon entering our home we found all the Windows open and the place was covered in sheet rock dust from top to bottom with a strong oder of decay in the air. we could not move in needless to say.

  • Roger Wilson

    Housing inspectors are bonded. Present the $80,000 bill for the repair to the bonding company and they should pick up the tab.

    I had a similar issue with the first home that my daughter purchased. Defects not found by the inspector and the bonding company paid for the repairs.

  • GDavis

    Well, now I know which realtor NOT to use if we move closer to the cities.

  • robin

    common sence really needs to make a come-back—respiratory……..seriously, you made your own problem–a seller can sell anything—if you do not have the sence to double check and verify, then you deserve what ya get

    • Mike Tambornino

      Believe me I feel dumb now knowing what I do but at the time I didnt know jack and put my trust into our reality agent, she never did her research and homework never checked with the city on things and never checked to see if the seller even had closed all the permits. hell the city even stated the house was sold illegality what more could I have done, I didnt have u to help me back then with all of your insight. so can u help me now or is it just easier to place blame without the facts?

  • Mhick

    I can sympathize with the homebuyers, we are currently in a similar situation.
    Unless you have been in the situation, please don’t be so quick to judge the homebuyer. We did everything right, we had excellent credit, a home inspection, obtained disclosures, etc. – the seller was desperate to get out of the house due to financial reasons and failed to disclose prior structural and water problems. Now we are liable to disclose ALL defects to potential buyers when we try to sell. $50k in repairs. We don’t have an extra $20k laying around to go to civil court, with no guarantee of winning, so we are stuck with the bill. The agent even failed to disclose to us that the seller told them they would take the house back!! The agent/broker were aware of the problems, but failed to bring them forward. Read the Minneosota statutes and get educated, because if this ever happens to you, you will feel exactly as the
    Tamborninos do.

    • Eric

      You should band together and educate future homebuyers on the hidden dangers of buying homes in the twincities

  • Dave L

    I have been watching “Holmes Inspection” on HGTV for a couple months now. If there is a lesson it is get a well qualified inspector to do a thorough inspection before taking possession – emphasis on THOROUGH. Don’t assume just hiring any licensed inspector is going to get you a decent inspection. Go with the inspector and share any concerns you have from your own look at the house. And before you list your own house for sale do the same and hopefully avoid headaches and lawsuits later.

    • Eric

      I wonder what Mike Holmes would say about this situation

  • Mold Conquers Home In Homebuyer’s Nightmare (via CBS Minnesota) | MC2 Home Inspections Indianapolis Home Inspectors in Indianapolis Indiana

    […] [worldnow id=5615034 width=450 height=375 type=video] 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 … Read More […]

  • Mike Tambornino

    I see al lot of comments of why do we stay in the house and why dont we fix the roof or clean up the basement, all great questions. we where promised the roof would be fixed and it was not we took steps to stop it from leaking but this winter has ben super hard on roofs and it continues to leak. we have no money to move out we dumped all our money in to this FHA move in ready Obama Tax credit home and have lost a ton of money just to keep the house from getting any worse. my wife and I have no more money, no place to go, and beleve me the mold is just the iceing on the cake with all that is wrong. the city rubberstamped a report that should of been compleated. yes I should of done more home work but our realastate agent and the seller all said everything was up to code and yes to and fix it request. I would love to move out or fix all that is wrong but canter because this house has bankrupted us and we are stuck. it is this or homeless and this is better in someways.

  • Bruce

    The posters who lack any empathy to this situation need to stop and think about why they even posted.

    If a child rode their bike in the middle of the road swerving back and forth ultimately became the victim of a hit and run, would you scowl and post on the story, “It is their own fault they got hurt.”

    If a middle aged male walked into a gas station and while he paid for his purchase was blown away by some robber looking to score some easy bills, would you laugh and respond to the story, “Wrong place at the wrong time.”

    Things happen to people that are not favorable, no matter what they did to get there it’s humanly to sympathize. The Tamborninos are brave for putting their story out there knowing there would be people who would think and say heartless things. The ultimate question is: Do you want to be the person who clicks that Submit Comment knowing you’ll be making someone, who has had enough sadness already, feel a little worse that day?

    Try to resist those urges to speak negativity from your colon lining and give support instead. I definitely hope for a happy ending for both De and Mike.

    • Bennett W Ryan

      Bruce said it perfectly with the child analogy. It is the child’s fault for being in the middle of the road, but no one would be yelling at the child saying they should have known better. They would be yelling at the driver who was doing what they should have been doing.

      Too many people pass judgment on others in this world and scorn them for making mistakes that could, and probably have happened or will happen to every one.

      I hope everything works out for you and De, Mike. How shady and unreliable people are these days sickens me.

  • Klank

    I have seen this house, Have seen the reports and the documents, all the problems that were listed as to be corrected before the house was sold was a big list! and nothing or very little was done. yet it didnt look that bad these problems were hidden well, people say you should look better, well this house should not have been even on the market! it looked great when sold its only having someone who knows about these kinds of problems that they were discovered! if it had been someone in bad or worse health and not knowledgable in things like this it would have been worse, and how many other houses are like this!

  • john

    I have been in this house and watched these good people go thru hell, people say look harder, this house looked good at time of sale! ive seen the reports and all the issues that should have been taken care of before it was sold. the black mould and the air quality that was registered at 100 times the safe limit! who has these tools and knowledge to do these things. its only because someone did have knowledge that these things were discovered yet to late! it could have been alot worse had someone in bad or worse health moved into this house with no knowledge of these kinds of problems! the list goes on and on with problems that should have been fixed as the inspector in the video says! news dosent cover half of it!

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