The world’s leading authority on mold (mould) and decay damage forensics, and related issues in buildings and other man-made structures, Dr Wakeling has investigated more than 7,000 cases of building damage as well as many hundreds of other wood product damage situations over the last 29 years.
All these buildings had varying degrees of mold problems and/or wood decay damage problems. Dr Wakeling has written approaching 10,000 commercial reports, scientific papers, briefs of evidence, etc., and now specializes in litigation related to such work, in particular mold litigation and building damage litigation.
Robin completed a Batchelors degree in Applied Biology at Aston University in the UK, gained a Masters degree in Biodeterioration of Materials from the University of Portsmouth in the UK, and a PhD in Wood Products Decay from the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
He spent 15 years as a mold, decay and wood preservation scientist at New Zealand Forest Research Institute (now SCION), followed by 13 years running his own forensic consultancy, Beagle Consultancy Ltd.
This depth of knowledge and experience gives Dr Wakeling’s clients a significant edge when it comes to evidence pertaining to mold litigation and building damage litigation, including forensic investigation of the timing, causation and repair of water damage in buildings, insurance claims, patent disputes, and more.
A member of the International Research Group on Wood Protection, Dr Wakeling has had several leadership roles within that organization, including group leader for Mold and Sapstain, Biology of Wood Decay, Baterial Decay, and more. An international speaker, Robin teaches professional bodies on a regular basis.
One of Robin’s additional specializations is the provision of advice on wood preservatives and other industrial biocides, in particular patent dispute expert witness advice and testimony. He has developed and patented a number of wood preservatives and other industrial biocide technologies, some of which are now commercial products.Get Started!
While it is well understood that mold litigation and building damage litigation often turns on expert witness testimony, what is less well understood is just how poor, how shallow some of this so-called expert testimony actually is. Evidence is like any other weapon; it can be turned against an opponent, particularly where expertise is poor.
It is no surprise that water causes damage and unhealthy living conditions in buildings. Some damage such as flood damage is usually obvious, causing discoloration, physical disintegration, smells, etc. What is less well understood are the hidden aspects of water damage and how these play out in relation to biohazards such as mold, and building damage.
Water damage is often hidden for two main reasons:
Firstly, external moisture entering a building is often concealed in a wall space or a basement. Similarly, internal moisture vapor, e.g., from perspiration, cooking, drying clothes, heating, air conditioning, and so on, can build up unseen in the air, in walls, and in chattels such as carpets, curtains, wallpaper.
Secondly, damage is hidden because it is often caused by microbial growths, including mold and decay fungi. It is hidden because the molds and decay fungi that are triggered by water (dampness) are largely invisible because they are microscopic. They only become visible when present in very large numbers, and often when damage is well advanced, and/or when biohazards have damaged occupant health.
Building materials and building living spaces change with time to highly varying degrees. The type and degree of change provides a historical record of when and how moisture is likely to have arrived. Such information can be very valuable when determining liability for damage and/or health problems caused by mold, toxigenic mold and other biohazards.
These changes typically accelerate greatly when moisture reaches a critical level, triggering mold and/or decay (water damage) problems. Some materials change slowly at high moisture because they are designed that way, while other more sensitive materials change very rapidly.
Similarly, the air quality of living spaces and the rate that this changes is highly dependent upon building design. Levels of airborne mold and other biohazards depend as much on building design features as on absolute levels of moisture elevation. For example, a high volume air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a profound effect on mold problems, as can many other building features.
The type and degree of change provides a historical record of when and how moisture is likely to have arrived. Such information can be very valuable when determining liability for damage and/or health problems caused by mold, toxigenic mold and other biohazards.
Methods of measuring mold levels in living spaces are notoriously unreliable, and often this is related to poor expertise among so-called experts. In mold litigation, it is common for evidence based on mold levels to unravel when scrutinized by a suitable expert, though such opportunities are often missed.
Dr Wakeling’s speciality is the forensic analysis of water-damage evidence, mold evidence, toxigenic mold evidence, and more, to assess scientific and legal robustness. For example, damage alleged to be caused by floods, leaks, or earthquake damage at one time can often be proved to have been caused at another time.
New Zealand has a far higher per capita incidence of moisture compromised buildings with toxigenic mould and water damage than any other country and is therefore the best point of reference and source of precedent in mold litigation and building damage litigation.
New Zealand’s leaky building epidemic of over 100,000 buildings, including many public buildings and schools, has resulted in highly regulated and comprehensive Government and private sector intervention to correct such issues. As a result, New Zealand – and Dr Wakeling in particular – offers a unique repository of mold remediation experience and knowledge.