Q. Buying a Home with Potential Mold and Moisture Problems

foreclosureI know a lot of people have heard horror stories out there to the effect of a mold contaminated home will always be contaminated, or that a home that had previous mold will be “red flagged” in some way and it will affect the value or resale of a home. But, in reality most mold and moisture issues within a home can be fixed, and the sale of the home can move forward without affecting the integrity and/or value of the home itself. There are a lot of homes out there with mold and moisture intrusion issues, and if the issues are addressed properly you can be confident that you are buying a safe home that will retain its value. But, it is important to go into situation such as this with an independent third party outlining the work to be performed, and verifying that the work has been performed properly. This should be done by a mold inspection and testing professional.

The first step in identifying and fixing mold and moisture issues within a home is by having a mold inspection performed. I know a lot of people out there go into a home sale assuming that the home inspector will be able to tell them if there is a mold problem. But, in most cases that just isn’t true. A home inspector is there to look at a broad range of things including electrical, plumbing, structural, and code issues among others. They are taking in a lot of information and trying to give their general idea of the condition of the home. As opposed to a mold inspection, where a professional inspector takes an in depth look at the home in regards to mold and water, and does a very thorough job of just that. As a result, often times issues are encountered that a home inspector may not have come across, because they are not mold specialists. In a best case scenario, the inspection will not reveal any mold or water related issues, and you will be provided with a mold inspection report that documents the current condition of the home, and states that mold is not a concern at this time. The flip side of that though is they may find some issues that need to be addressed. In that case, a report will be generated which would include “remediation”, or cleanup recommendations.

When a mold or moisture intrusion has been identified, it is up to the buyer and seller at this point to decide how to move forward with the sale. Often the seller will opt to pay for the remediation and post remediation verification testing, and as a result the sale of the home will not change at all. Other times the sale price of the home will be lowered so that the buyer can pay for the work to be performed after the sale has been finalized. Either way, at some point the problem needs to be remediated.

The actual remediation of the impacted area should be performed by a certified remediation contractor. The work will follow the outline set forth by the independent mold inspector, and any necessary changes to that scope of work should be discussed by all parties involved. The extent of this work varies greatly from project to project, but for the most part it will entail: isolation of the affected area, removal of the affected materials, cleaning of the affected area, and most importantly stop whatever moisture source caused the issue in the first place.

Once the remediation contractor is confident that the work is within industry standard, they will initiate the independent mold inspector to perform a post remediation verification inspection. The intent of this inspection is to ensure that proper engineering controls were utilized during the removal, verification that all of the mold growth has been removed, verification that all of the building materials have been adequately dried, and through ambient air testing determine if the air quality has been returned to “normal” conditions. If everything seems to be in order, the inspector will “pass” the project. They will generate and provide a post remediation report, stating that the remediation project is considered successful.

When the process we have outlined today is performed properly, all parties involved should be satisfied. The seller should be happy that they were able to move forward with sale, and the buyer should be confident that they are buying a safe home and investing their money properly. Not only that, but the new owners should never have to worry about the previous issues affecting the value of their home, and could resell the home at a later time while providing full disclosure of the previous issues. They can do this because they have full documentation of the cleanup process provided by an independent party, the mold inspection and testing professional.

Majeske Home Inspection Services

Hernick Environmental LLC - 
Frankenmuth, Michigan

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