Christenson team tackles a major restoration project, provides mold remediation services at Hastings’ old Village Inn building.
The old Village Inn once meant hearty breakfasts, Sunday brunches and dinner out with the family. Now the special skills of Christenson Cleaning and Restoration mean a whole new life for the long-vacant Hastings building.
Charlie Christenson, who owns Christenson Cleaning and Restoration with his father, Eric, has fond memories of special meals with his godparents at the old restaurant on West 12th Street.
“They brought me here for my birthday,” he said as he stood in the former eatery, recalling the last time he’d been there. “It still looks exactly the same.”
Two pay phones still stood sentry in the foyer. The padded bench where diners once waited for tables remained along the west wall. The hostess’ stand and many of the booths inhabited their original places, as if the restaurant had closed yesterday — not nearly 15 years ago.
But Charlie wasn’t there for another helping of pancakes with sprinkles. Christenson Cleaning and Restoration was performing the challenging and necessary task of mold remediation so the building could become the home of Innovative Prosthetics and Orthotics.
The general contractor on the job noticed mold growth and contacted Christenson Cleaning and Restoration, Charlie said. He showed a spot where wallpaper was curling away, exposing mold underneath.
“It’s so humid in here,” Charlie said. “Everything is contaminated.”
Mold occurs naturally and can be found both indoors and outdoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It thrives in moist environments and will grow on surfaces such as wallpaper, drywall, carpet and upholstery.
“This is all due to moisture intrusion,” Operations Manager Dakota Soucie said, looking around the building. Soucie was recently certified in mold remediation through the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
When a building is vacant, no one’s around to check if the roof or windows leak, and with the heating and air conditioning shut off, the air becomes stagnant. Once mold gets established, the spores can travel throughout a building, contaminating surfaces.
Dakota said various species of mold compete against one another, producing mycotoxins.
“That’s why mold’s toxic to humans,” he said, and that’s why it needs to be remediated.
Christenson Cleaning and Restoration began by calling an indoor environmental professional, who tested the air and took mold samples to determine the species. She also defined the scope of the work for them to follow.
Unlike a typical demo crew, Christenson’s employees wore respirators and were covered from head to toe in protective white suits. Their latex gloves were taped shut around their sleeves to prevent mold intrusion.
The crew hung plastic containment sheeting at the building’s entrances and established negative air pressure to keep mold spores from escaping.
An air scrubber’s pre-filter removed larger dust, hair, pollen and PM10, particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter, while a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter eliminated finer dust particles.
Even on the first day of the job, a lot of demolition was already visible. Materials such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles, insulation, drywall and carpeting all needed to be removed.
“We’re going to tear a lot of it out,” Dakota said. Next steps included vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum and treating surfaces with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide.
The torn-out materials are double-bagged in heavy-duty plastic and labeled. Because mold is naturally occurring, Dakota said, it can be taken to a normal landfill.
A landfill is one thing. Your home or business is quite another. Mold can cause allergy and respiratory infections or worsen illnesses such as asthma, so it needs to be handled properly.
“You have to be trained and certified in it,” Eric Christenson emphasized.
“It’s cool that we’re doing something with the abandoned building. I’m glad we have all the education and certifications we need to do it and do it right.”– Charlie Christenson, Owner
Dakota said certification requires attending a four-day course, eight hours a day, and passing a test with up to 140 questions.
Most states — including Nebraska — don’t regulate mold remediation, so it’s all the more important to hire someone who is certified, the Christensons said.
Christenson Cleaning and Restoration had a two-week deadline on this project and planned to complete it ahead of schedule.
Charlie said the company got into mold remediation because they would sometimes encounter mold while providing water damage restoration services, which have long been part of Christenson’s stock-in-trade.
Mold remediation has been a satisfying addition to their business, especially when it means bringing new life to a location that’s familiar to many in the community.
“It’s cool that we’re doing something with the abandoned building,” Charlie said. “I’m glad we have all the education and certifications we need to do it and do it right. We’re very thankful we were the chosen restoration company for this project.”