Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A Largo family's mold-infested home is restored thanks to a generous local contractor

For the past three months, Yolanda and Micah Ochs and their four children have been living with an open question: When can we go home? In December, the family was forced to leave the modest three-bedroom house in south Largo after it became infested with mold, causing breathing problems for the entire family.

Spore colonies hidden in the walls were missed by inspectors when the family bought the house in 2008, and as time went on, the fungi spread — culminating in a bloom of black mold in November after an air conditioner malfunction.

A dust of mold coated the carpet, walls, couches and even the stuffed animals of Giovanna, 3, the family's youngest child. Most of their belongings had to be thrown out. The damage was estimated to be about $40,000; the family's insurance cap for mold damage was only $10,000.

"When it rains, it pours," Yolanda Ochs said in December. "If it doesn't pass inspection, we can't move back in."

The St. Petersburg Times wrote about the family's plight shortly after the Ochses spent Christmas in a hotel room.

But now, just a week before their insurance company, Citizens, will stop paying for temporary housing, the family's house is nearly habitable again — thanks to the generosity of a local contractor and help from the family's church.

• • •

Dan Bickford, owner of Baycraft Restorations of Clearwater, got to know the Ochses after they contacted him instead of one of the insurance company's preferred vendors to do work on their house. He said the family's situation is all too common — when families have more damage from mold or other problems than their policies cover.

"I saw her policy didn't even allow enough to barely begin," Bickford said. But, he said, he felt that because he could help, he should.

"When I looked at the family and talked to Yolanda, I was reminded of something I heard a long time ago: 'When your neighbors need help and you don't help them, you're no longer a society.' "

Bickford and his staff spent days wiping every surface, every square inch of the house's insides, and tearing out mold-covered drywall.

Members of the family's church, Gulf Coast Church, came to help in the final phases of putting the house back together. But Yolanda Ochs said without Bickford's help, the home would still be in shambles.

"He's just really seemed to care about our family. He's been more than just a contractor for us."

Any costs over what the insurance company would pay for, Bickford said his company would absorb.

"To do a job for somebody and make no profit is a little bit tough in these economic times. But it's when times are tough and you decide to help someone is what matters, not when times are good. We just toughed it out. My staff got onboard and we just did it," Bickford said.

Another business owner has offered to help. Al Greco, one of the owners of APSCO Appliance Center on East Bay Drive in Largo, said he will donate appliances.

"Tough as business is, once in a while, you got to work out something," Greco said.

The Ochses plan on moving back into their home by Wednesday.

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or dtao@sptimes.com

A Largo family's mold-infested home is restored thanks to a generous local contractor 02/27/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 26, 2010 5:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. See you later, alligator! Reptile captured off Miami Beach (w/video)

    Wildlife

    MIAMI BEACH — Police and wildlife officials captured an unwanted visitor on Miami Beach.

    An alligator was spotted swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near the South Pointe Park pier in Miami Beach on July 23, 2017. News outlets quoted viewers who said it took officials about two hours to capture the gator. No one was injured.

  2. Dog dies in hot car while owner cleans Florida condos

    Public Safety

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Authorities say a 2-year-old Chihuahua died in a hot car while its owner was cleaning condominiums in Florida.

  3. Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara

    Cooking

    If you've never made carbonara, consider adding it to your weekday dinner lineup. It is a traditional Italian pasta dish in which eggs are mixed with cheese and then swirled into cooked pasta just before serving. The result is a luscious bowl of food you won't believe contains so few ingredients. This recipe swaps …

    Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  4. Jared Kushner says he has 'nothing to hide' on Russia (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is denying that President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, saying in a statement ahead of congressional interviews that he has "nothing to hide."

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington on June 22, 2017. [Associated Press]
  5. Forecast: Less stormy weather to start week in Tampa Bay before chances ramp back up

    Weather

    After some stormy mornings throughout the weekend across Tampa Bay, Monday kicks off pretty quietly with a cloudy, yet mainly dry start.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]