Ken Larsen & Mickey Lee – Water Damage Scope of Work Development & Hurricane Coverage Continued

Air Date: 12-15-2017|Episode 488

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Ken Larsen and Mickey Lee back to the show to continue our hurricane coverage and to discuss tips for how to develop proper scopes of work on water damage restoration projects. Both pros are working in the areas damaged by Hurricane Irma and both are long time water damage restoration pros, contributors to industry standards and instructors.


Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Ken Larsen and Mickey Lee back to the show to continue our hurricane coverage and to discuss tips for how to develop proper scopes of work on water damage restoration projects. Both pros are working in the areas damaged by Hurricane Irma and both are long time water damage restoration pros, contributors to industry standards and instructors.

Ken Larsen, CR, WLS, CSDS has been in the restoration industry since 1978. He holds RIA, ACAC and IICRC advanced designations. His career includes 18 years as an independent property restoration contractor, consultant to restorative drying during catastrophes and large loss drying coordination, expert witness, Director of Education for North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, and now the author of one of the industry’s leading technical resource books on the subject of structural restorative drying – Leadership in Restorative Drying.

He is currently an IICRC Approved instructor of WRT, ASD and CDS certificate courses. He is also an RIA instructor of the restoration industry’s advanced certification credentials:  Water Loss Specialist (WLS) and Certified Restorer (CR). He serves as Chairman for RIA approved Instructors, Trainers and Subject Matter Experts, a sub-committee of RIA’s Education Committee. Larsen presently serves as Senior Technical Director for the International Dry Standard Organization (IDSO) and Director of Education for the Restoration Leadership Institute (RLI) and lead consultant for the Restoration Expert Panel (REP). Ken lives with his wife Barbie (yes – really!) in Santa Rosa Beach in Northwest Florida. He can be contacted at ken at drystandard dot org.

Mickey Lee is currently a private consultant providing consulting, training, research and writing services in the fields of property damage restoration, psychrometrics, drying science, mold remediation and structural drying after water intrusions.  Mr. Lee retired from the Munters Corp (US) in 2011 after serving in various roles for over 20 years. At various points Mr. Lee was Vice-President – Global Technology & Sustainability for Munters AB – MCS and Global and National Technical & Training Manager for Munters Corp (US).  He was responsible for training program development, curriculum writing and course facilitation in addition to managing projects for structural drying and restoration of commercial buildings of every type.  He also has extensive experience in application of air treatment technology in restorative drying projects, corrosion-control methods, mold mitigation and humidity control in commercial and industrial facilities while working with Munters Corporation – Moisture Control Services Division.

Recognizing his vast experience in water damage restoration the IICRC asked him to lead the development of their Commercial Drying Specialist certification.  This program completed its’ full roll-out in 2009 and continues to be a popular offering.  Mr. Lee continues to serve as committee chair for the Commercial Drying Specialist Certification program and also serves on the IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration revision committee.

Z-Man’s Blog:

“Go to guys”

Ken Larsen and Mickey Lee are acknowledged structural drying experts, trainers and consultants. On today’s episode of IAQradio they each from their own personal perspective provided continuing coverage of their activities in the hurricane repair efforts in Florida and Texas.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

Ken Larsen:

Work history:  Hurricane Harvey didn’t present the expected business opportunities in Houston. He did some consulting on schools. Hurricane Irma presented a much better opportunity. He has been hammered with work all over Florida. The majority of his current workload is residential focused on Condo/Homeowners Associations (HOA). While it depends on the specifics of the work engagement contract, the most common scenario this year is working for HOAs, categorizing the water intrusion, providing a generic protocol and inspecting work the contractor thinks is complete. He commonly encounters cleanliness issues post restoration such as: footprints, dust, and grit. He informs contractors to do better cleaning and not rely upon “miracle antimicrobial juices”.

Category of water:  Prior to this year, he believed that all hurricane related water intrusion was Category 3 water. He now actively investigates the quality of the water. He’s found situations where the water intrusion is Category 1 direct from clouds. Violent water intrusions on ground floor or storm surge are Category 3.

Restoration contractors need to define the category of water causing the loss. As argument over the category of water is expected, clients appreciate a decision on the category of water before work is done. The category of water drives the scope and costs. A consultant can help defend the contractors’ actions. Factors involving classification of water include: amount of time water is present, temperature of wet surfaces, type & presence of debris, type and presence of odors. ATP isn’t used to determine the type of microorganisms present, rather as a screening tool for bio-load. ATP isn’t the sole measure of water category.

Big difference this year:  RTPEs (Registered Third Party Evaluators) who have earned their place on the registry are actively: writing scopes of repair, providing project oversight, serving as IEPs or expert witnesses, etc.

Moisture mapping:  Mapping is a graphical depiction or rendition of the damage. You can’t convert what amounts to 3 dimensional view of damage to 2 dimensions on paper. While some contractors focus skill and effort on trying to make their mapping, layout and drawings look good on paper, it doesn’t make the drawings credibility. Ken assigns a point scale from 0-100 to wet materials other than wood.

Scope:  Is what is the task to be fulfilled. All the actions (from start-to finish) needed to return the building to pre-loss condition. The scope is complete the moment the excess moisture or contaminates possessed by the structure are removed.

Is a surface sanitary?  ATP determines if a surface is sanitary and not how unsanitary a surfaces is. He uses it to measure the bio-load. Salt isn’t a substance he currently measures. The Florida coast has long term salt water exposure. Hidden corrosion damage has been found behind sheetrock attributed to long term salt water exposure. Saltwater leaves behind a wax-like residue upon drying.

Special tools:  Has an instrument addiction. He is a big fan of the FLIR 1 Pro thermal camera that attaches to I phone. He has found his laser particle counter to be a valuable tool for evaluating air scrubber performance.

Mickey Lee:

Workload:  The majority of his business opportunities have been found in Houston. The majority of his projects are commercial. His clients are predominately property owners/managers. He’s had an significant uptick in telephone consulting. The damage in Texas was significant and widespread. There remains a dearth of good contractors. Texas is making progress rebuilding, there’s still a long way to go.

Category of water:  Agrees with Ken that not one category fits all hurricane losses. He’s seen losses where the upper floors of the building are Category 1 and the ground floor and basement are Category 3. He opines that on commercial losses there is less back and forth among contractors and TPAs over category of water.

Big difference this year:  More stakeholders involved in the restoration and claim settlement process. A project can have: general contractor, restoration contractor, drying contractor, moisture mapping and documenting contractor, engineers, IEP, consultants, etc. Some competitors are joint venturing to handle losses. While he may be only working for a single client, he sometimes must circulate copies of his work product to a number of different parties.

Moisture mapping:  Building owners and managers are risk averse. Some restorers don’t know how to take and document instrument readings. Some just go through the motions just to have information for entry into software applications. Chuck Violand says: “Every number tells a story and every number begs a question.” The instrument reading numbers speak to Mickey. He learns the conditions of the building from the readings. For example:  the following reference scale readings of a surface with a Drying Goal of 10 would raise a red flag: Day One- 100, Day Two- 99, Day Three- 98, Day Four- 97 and Day Five-10. He knows they are just plugging in numbers. Taking instrument readings is different from analyzing the readings. Restorers must understand the instrument and what scale of indication to use (relative numbers or moisture content by weight, or wood moisture equivalent). Wood moisture equivalent is commonly used for penetrating meters on drywall.

He’s OK with 0-100 scale, wood moisture equivalent or moisture content by weight. Different meters are used to measure materials in different manners. It’s important for the technician to read the operating manual and instructions that come with the instrument. He has an instrument addiction, he owns and transports a large collection of instruments to his work sites. He doesn’t use ATP. Due to the large numbers of false negatives and false positives he considers ATP not ready for prime time. While he has the training and the credentials, he’s not comfortable with indoor environmental issues considering himself to be a moisture expert and not an IEP.

Special tools:  Also a big fan of the FLIR 1 Pro thermal camera. He carries a TRAMEX moisture encounter and TRAMEX concrete meter. He is using an I-pad and Facetime for more consulting, recently spending 30-50 hours over the last 3 months. Similar to being on site, clients can zoom in and show him areas of concern. Lowers client cost.


Pete Consigli-  Our industry became aware of ATP in the late 1990s where it was first used to determine the efficacy of sewage cleanup.  In hot and humid climates, musty smells and corrosion are the norm. TPAs are using Facetime to develop scope and document restoration processes. This episode and the prior 2017 Hurricane Season coverage shows have laid good groundwork for the upcoming final episode with attorney Mike Bowdoin and Ralph Moon, PhD

Pushback on S-500 or S-520?

Mickey Lee-  Encountered no pushback on IICRC standards. Clients want to ensure that they are closing adhering following industry standards. He opines that on too many residential situations S-500 was poorly applied by the adjuster or TPA. Poorly performing software applications misapply S-500. It behooves restorers to understand S-500. When encountering pushback they need to be able to quote the standard chapter and verse and be able to support what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Ken Larsen-  Also encounters little pushback. Clients want his help to comply with the standards. The only pushback he encountered is from a retired engineer who disagrees with the industry standard wanting the work to be done his way. The restoration contractor is stuck in the middle and “damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t”. If he follows the S-500 the engineer will be unhappy and sue and if he doesn’t the building will sue him. The contractor is closely documenting his work processes and hoping he doesn’t get sued.

Ken strongly agrees with Mickey that the software programs don’t comply with S-500 and that furthermore the software programs result in substandard work.

Z-Man’s answer to Pete’s question:

I have firsthand knowledge and experience of a humidity controlled condo building that prior to suffering extensive loss of glass due to hurricane had no visible interior corrosion. The building is now 25 years. It was constructed from concrete with ceramic tile floors. There is less than 150 square feet total in each apartment, located only on bathroom and hallway ceilings as access to mechanicals mounted in ceiling voids.

Following hurricane related moisture intrusion, loss of electricity, corrosion on metal bathroom fixtures, door hinges and hardware was visible within a week.

Z-Man signing off