U.S. military's new housing plagued by construction flaws

Some of the newer housing where mold has been found is seen at Tinker Air Force Base

© Reuters/NICK OXFORD

By M.B. Pell and Deborah Nelson

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma (Reuters) - Here, near the heart of Americas Tornado Alley, an Air Force contractor built 398 new homes less than a decade ago, bankrolled as part of the U.S. governments vow of safe shelter for the men and women who serve.

Today the collection of cookie-cutter duplexes is showing declines more typical of aged and neglected housing. Last spring, just six years after landlord Balfour Beatty Communities finished construction, the company was forced to start replacing every foot of water line in each house to fix systemic plumbing failures. In September, the company and Air Force inspected the tiny rooms where heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment is housed. Half had mold or water damage. Residents complain of leaks, mold, rodents and cockroaches.

While living in her new house on base, Stephanie Oakleys five-year-old son underwent 42 weeks of chemotherapy, 33 days of pelvis radiation and 10 days of full-lung radiation this year. Doctors removed his adenoids, the hospital says, and then his tonsils.

The cancer treatment severely weakened his immune system. Any infections from mold, the familys doctor warned, could be lethal. So when Oakley found mold in the vents of her home in August, she instantly called Balfour Beatty . 

Yet the cleanup worsened the problem, she said. A contractor cleaned the vent....

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