Mold Inspection Before Buying a Home
When buying a new home, you want the best of the best. If you’re looking for any home, either new or old, you should have a mold inspection and keep your eyes peeled for signs of mold. Not doing so could lead to devaluing of your home or worse, health issues.
Mold is naturally occurring and helps break down organic matter in the environment. But in your home, it can be toxic. Mold loves all materials in the home, from wood to fabric, and combined with moisture, it can cause major issues, both healthwise and structurally.
Why should you have a mold inspection?
You don’t want to get sick or face a devaluation of your potential home. But more importantly, you yourself should check for the mold in addition to agents and inspectors.
Some states require real estate agents to disclose issues like the presence of mold (past or present), but in states where it’s not required, they likely won’t tell you. Agents are trying to sell a house for their client, and disclosing details about mold creates a roadblock for their process. Worse, they themselves may not know whether a mold problem exists.
You may think a home inspector would be able to detect mold; however, this is not always the case. Mold inspection can be difficult and hard to detect under the carpet or within walls. Inspectors can see the mold on surfaces like carpets and walls, but cannot indicate whether there is any beyond what the eye can see. Most inspectors will warn you to check for water stains, a basement that smells particularly musty, leaking roofs or water seepages. Be advised, though, that many inspectors work on referral from real estate agents and may not be as helpful.
Detecting mold and remediation
Professionals detect mold by taking samples of the air and analyzing the spores and concentration thereof. This detection process can be costly, and while there are do-it-yourself mold detection kits, the cost is similar, and a professional is more reliable.
A professional will do a combination of the following tests:
- Identify the spores in the air and their respective concentration levels
- Locate hidden mold, water sources, moisture and mildew that may be worsened by moisture
- Indicate leaks in plumbing
- Identify water damage
- Inspect black mold contamination and exposure around the home, including the air conditioning system
- Collect surface samples to identify exposure and concentration
- Utilize a professionally licensed lab to present accurate results
If you find mold in your home, the remediation process can be expensive. Removing mold is complicated in that you cannot simply remove the mold itself. Because of the contamination, a mold specialist will have to remove the fabric, wood or other materials the mold has come in contact completely. A mold remediation specialist will remove these materials, clean the previously contaminated area and attempt to contain the mold from spreading.
What are the health hazards of mold?
For those with allergies, asthma or upper respiratory issues, mold is an obvious trigger. Because it is airborne, inhaling the spores can irritate pre-existing conditions. Likely side effects of mold in the home are recurring sinus infections, pneumonitis and cold-like symptoms such as strong coughing.
In extreme cases, infections can occur in the lungs, and the spores can even lead to pulmonary hemorrhages. While these are rare, it is very common for residents of homes with mold to be frequently sick for reasons they cannot explain.
Ask your inspector and agent whether the home has synthetic stucco — this system ideally improves insulation. In many cases, however, people install these improperly. Water can leak into the system and may result in mold growing throughout the home. It’s also a good idea to ask your inspector, agent or seller if they detect any signs of mold.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions like whether the basement pipes ever burst or if they had to replace any doors or windows because of leaks.
It’s also wise to add a mold contingency plan to your offer. Doing this means if you detect any mold within the home, you would be able to retract your offer. You would have to pay for the mold inspection detector yourself. You may use it to bargain, instead though. If you make an offer and detect mold, encouraging the seller to come down on their price is a wise idea. Not only will you be saving money on a home, but you can put that money can toward mold remediation.