The last time we met, I wrote about a couple in Elkins Park who were dealing with the expensive cleanup of a purported mold problem that began with a routine energy audit.

In the homeowners' defense - which they failed to mention in their first e-mail to me - they had obtained other estimates and had done as much homework as civilians can do on problems that often require an impartial expert.

As usual, and this is why I treasure my readership, your response to this situation came fast and furious.

Charles Naumowicz, president of Cougar Builders in Slatington, Pa., said, "I agree with you. Get rid of that contractor fast.

"I've been involved in mold remediation projects and have seen some of the fear and con jobs these companies display, along with the outrageous estimates for removal," he said.

It took him several tries, but Naumowicz found a mold remediation company he was happy with and recommends to others, "because they were honest and do a good job," especially with what he called a nightmarish one in Margate.

Reader Luci Giancova, a veteran of 31 years in property management, has had her own nightmarish experience.

"I had water seepage on the oceanfront wall of my home and called in a mold-remediation company," she said. When the "mold man" arrived, "he told me he was going to condemn my home until the work was done."

"I nicely got him out of there and closed off the room. I hired a man with an infrared camera for $400, who spotted the moisture in the walls so we could address the problem."

She then hired a carpenter to tear out, reinsulate and apply new drywall - all for under $1,000. The "mold man" was talking $80,000 plus.

"What a gimmick!" she said "He actually told me he never spent so much time with a client. Not only was this a scam, but my home would be forever labeled as having a mold problem."

In the Elkins Park situation, the contractor filed a claim with the homeowners' insurance company for the cleanup.

I had suggested that they call the insurer and cancel the claim, but Giancova cautions that "once a problem has been reported to an insurance company, it is on record as a claim, even though you cancel the claim and do not collect a dime."

So be careful.

Reader Vinny G. wrote that he owned a waterproofing company during the "golden years" of mold remediation.

"It never ceased to amaze me how gullible people were. We lost more work because we were not 'mold remediation' specialists like some of my peer companies - meaning we didn't send salesmen to Las Vegas for a weekend to get a certificate."

Vinny said he always referred clients to a company that specialized in it, and "only in that, since that was the best way a customer would be able to find out what the scope of their problem was and deal with it accordingly.

"As I said, we lost a lot of work because of that, but I slept at night," he said.

Speaking of estimates, reader Harry A. asks whether homeowners should accept and pay the estimated price or ask for a detailed cost.

I always ask for details, even though I know a lot of small-scale contractors don't like to give them because they assume that the customer is just using the information as leverage with competitors.

I once received a $1,600 estimate for electrical work but never heard back when I asked for a breakdown. When another electrician provided such information, the work actually cost less than half that.

It is your money, so do what you need to do.

Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at aheavens@phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.