Real Estate Buyers & Sellers – Mold

It is tough to find an older home without some form of moisture damage. Plumbing leaks, roofs failures, and inadequate ventilation can all lead to damage. Regardless of the source, most of the materials a home is constructed of will allow mold propagation if they get and remain wet. Mold is everywhere in nature, and when found in a home can almost always be repaired. This is a process called remediation.

As a real estate purchaser, it is important to do your due diligence. This doesn’t mean that you must order every available inspection, just the ones that are pertinent to your situation. It is strongly recommended that you get a home inspection performed by a certified home inspector. Those familiar with construction, including general contractors are not typically proficient at performing home inspections and should not be relied on as a substitute. It is also common to get a pest inspection to identify wood destroying insects, as well as rot and fungus. Often a home and pest inspector will provide observations of mold, though they will call it fungus, rot or unidentified discoloration. It is common for Pest Inspectors to recommend a treatment of the “fungus”, though this approach is much different than mold remediation and often ineffective.

If you receive a report with potential mold sources, then you will probably want to get a mold inspection. A mold inspection is typically required to get a remediation estimate, and to give evidence of the mold conditions to the seller. Musty odors, moisture damage, and health responses are all signs that there may be a mold problem in the home. It is also important to have a mold inspection performed if you, or anyone you plan on having in the home is sensitive or allergic to mold or has an impaired immune system. Persons with HIV, AIDS, cancer treatments, the old, and the young should all be considerations.

Click on Picture for EPA interactive tour.

buyer-seller-moldWhen buying a home that had a previous mold remediation, documentation is very important. Most professional remediation contractors generate a substantial amount of paperwork to support their work. This often includes detailed estimates, work scopes, and pictures. It is a common practice for a clearance inspection to be performed at the end of a remediation and prior to reconstruction. If you are considering a property where remediation has occurred and they did not get a clearance letter, you may want to consider other homes. At a minimum, you should have a mold inspection performed and make sure the inspector knows of the previous remediation.

Common Mold Misconceptions:

  • You can kill mold with bleach.
  • Homes with mold are red flagged or put on a list.
  • Only toxic mold is a problem.
  • A mold clearance means that the home is “certified” or entirely mold free.
  • That section 1 pest work will effectively deal with fungus and mold.

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