Contractor fights faulty Portsmouth housing construction claims

Source:, August 3, 2018
By: Elizbeth Dinan

A contractor accused in a federal lawsuit of faulty construction at the 100-unit Wamesit Place housing complex filed a court motion denying liability, while reporting if it is found liable, so too should five other contractors who worked there.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims poor construction caused mold to grow in apartments, that firewalls “are inadequate and/or nonexistent throughout the apartments” and remediation will require a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents.

One of the defendants, Portland Builders, filed a July 30 notice with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire stating it was contract manager in 2011 and 2012 for renovations that included roofs, windows, doors and siding at homes throughout the neighborhood. The contractor reiterates Wamesit’s claim that defects were discovered, beginning in 2015, that led to mold and the discovery of code violations.

Portland Builders, in its new court filing, states it performed its work according to the scope of its agreement with Wamesit, but if a jury finds it liable for damages, it will ask a jury to share responsibility with Goduti-Thomas Architects, Veteran’s Construction, Eastern Mechanical, Corey Electric, Bio Environments and an unknown cable company.

The contractor alleges the Portland, Maine, architect designed the plans and specifications it followed and the construction company was contracted to “perform services related to the firewalls.” The mechanical company performed plumbing and ventilation work at Wamesit, the electric company installed bathroom ventilation fans and the environmental company conducted mold testing and remediation. The unknown cable (or security) company did work at the housing complex after Portland Builders was done, which “damaged firewalls,” the contractor’s court motion claims.

Based on those allegations, Portland Builders reports to the court that it “is entitled to have the jury apportion liability during the trial of this matter.”

Wamesit’s amended suit filed in April reports that between 2015 and 2017, mold was found in apartments, “that is growing due to the condensation of humid exhaust air accumulating and saturating insulation in ceilings and attics.” Mold remediation was conducted by third parties and before insulation could be replaced, it would have to remove all insulation, including in building overhangs, and clean all surfaces in ceilings and attics. All ceiling drywall will also have to be replaced and proper re-insulation will be needed, in addition to new bathroom fans and duct work to roof vents, it’s alleged.

Tenants in the apartments will need to be temporarily relocated during the repairs and Wamesit seeks an unspecified monetary award to cover related costs. Wamesit is alleging breach of contract and negligence in the federal suit.

Portland Builders previously countered that change orders eliminated attic insulation, ventilation “and other work that was part of the original contract.”

The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director, Craig Welch, previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss the pending litigation and he assured no residents’ health is at risk.

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