7 Reasons Why a Mold Inspection Is Crucial Before Buying a House
- How Do You Know if You are Buying a House with Mold?
- 1. It Protects Your Family’s Health
- 2. It Protects Your Investment
- 3. Mold Inspections are Quick and Easy
- 4. Mold Inspections Identify Potential Future Issues
- 5. You Can Start the Mold Removal Process Quickly
- 6. It is Your Buyer’s Due Diligence
- 7. You can Leverage Test Results in Negotiations
A good mold inspection can save you a lot of money, time and headaches.
It’s an exciting day when you close on the sale of a new home. But it can be easy to get ahead of yourself when you find the seemingly perfect house and buy it right away. Unfortunately, in some cases, this can easily lead to the huge mistake of buying a house with mold contamination.
Now, nearly every home has mold present. Some types of mold can be harmless in small amounts, while an overgrowth of mold or dangerous types can lead to disaster. Removing large amounts of mold can cost thousands of dollars – and it may even require complete renovations. Mold inspections can assess for air quality problems, hidden moisture, and microscopic surface mold.
How Do You Know if You are Buying a House with Mold?
Unfortunately, mold can be quite difficult to see with the naked eye. Mold thrives in dark, damp areas and is known to hide out in hard-to-reach areas that aren’t visible at first glance. Mold may also breed inside HVAC units and up in attics and behind walls, and beneath the flooring.
If you suspect a home may have mold, there are some signs to look for on your own.
When viewing the home, you should do some visual inspection to see if you spot any visible signs of mold. Mold can come in all kinds of colors and textures, depending on the type. Some of the most common household molds include:
- Acremonium: This mold appears as a fine powder that can be white, pink, grey, or orange.
- Alternaria: Look out for dark green or brown spots that appear to have a soft, velvety texture.
- Aspergillus: This mold can grow into thick layers and is often white, yellow, or green.
- Chaetomium: This mold grows around water damage, and it is usually brown, grey, or black. It appears like a stain on the walls and creates a distinct musty smell.
- Cladosporium: This type of mold is commonly found in carpets and upholstery. It blends into the fabric well since it has a suede-like texture and can be olive-green or brown.
- Mucor: If you spot any thick patches of white or grey hair-like forms, watch out. This mold often grows underneath damp carpeting.
- Penicillium: This mold creates a rather pretty blue or green colored patch with a soft, velvet texture.
- Stachybotrys: Commonly known as black mold, this extremely toxic mold grows in patches that can be black or very dark green.
- Trichoderma: This kind of mold forms wooly clusters that can be green, white, or yellow.
- Ulocladium: You will often find this mold growing around cracks in the tile or floorboards. It is black or dark brown.
Here are just a few key reasons why a professional mold inspection should be one of your top priorities before signing on the dotted line.
1. It Protects Your Family’s Health
One of the biggest concerns of mold is the health problems certain types can cause with long-term exposure. Certain molds are toxic to humans, and about 25% have some mold allergy. Mold can also impact air quality and cause some unfortunate health effects, including:
- Respiratory problems and trouble breathing
- Itchy eyes
Young children and the elderly tend to be the most severely impacted by the presence of mold. Additionally, people with compromised immune systems are far more susceptible to mold-related health issues.
All of the most common household molds have been linked to significant health issues. Some of the more dangerous and toxic types of mold can even cause severe and chronic health conditions. This is known as mycotoxigenic exposure, and it can cause:
- Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring in the lung tissue)
- Liver and kidney damage
- Toxic nervous system
- Pregnancy complications
- Digestive and heart conditions
When you get a mold inspection before buying your home, you’ll be reassured that your new place’s environment and air quality are healthy enough to support your family.
2. It Protects Your Investment
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments most people make. Potentially buying a house with mold contamination is a major financial risk, as removing it completely can be quite costly. But you can protect your investment risk with a proper indoor air quality inspection.
All molds can affect the structural integrity of any building where there’s an infestation. Mold will slowly eat away at the materials of a house, eventually causing dangerous structural damage if left unchecked.
This is because the underlying cause of mold growth is moisture. Fixing a moisture issue before you buy a house is much easier than fixing a severe mold problem a few months down the line. In the long run, this decision can save you a lot of money and ensure good health for your whole family.
3. Mold Inspections are Quick and Easy
You can schedule a mold inspection quickly, and the process only takes a few hours to complete. A specially trained mold inspector will arrive on-site for the scheduled appointment. They may ask you (or the current homeowner) some questions about any signs of water damage or spots to check out.
Next, they will walk through the home and check out the spot where mold is most likely to grow. This includes checking around HVAC systems, basements, attics, and areas around pipes where there may be leaks.
Mold inspections are also non-invasive and will not compromise the structure of the home unless specifically authorized. For example, to check spaces behind drywall or underneath carpets, inspectors use infrared cameras. This technology can detect unusual temperature fluctuations on walls, floors, and ceilings with thermal imaging technology. This helps identify areas with hidden water damage.
The technician may also use humidity readers to check the air’s moisture levels in various spots in the home. If any mold or suspected mold spots are found, they will take videos or pictures for recorded evidence. In addition, some air or fiber samples may be collected for further testing back at the lab to determine which types of mold are growing.
You may also want to have an air quality inspection before buying a home in addition to a mold inspection. If mold is growing in the home, there is a high chance that other toxins could be present. Air quality inspections test for asbestos, dust, gasses, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, radon, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and other chemical compounds that could be harmful to your health. Ask in advance regarding any of this type of testing.
4. Mold Inspections Identify Potential Future Issues
Moist environments breed mold growth – and this is often caused in homes because of condensation. Condensation occurs when there’s a major difference in temperature between indoors and outdoors. Mold thrives in moist environments where condensation is present, like around windows, doors, or walls with poor insulation.
So, if mold is identified during the inspection, it could be a sign of structural issues that need to be addressed. This could be as simple as re-sealing entry points – but it could also require more intense renovations.
Identifying points of condensation before putting any money down gives you the chance to ask the owners to correct the issue before you purchase the home.
5. You Can Start the Mold Removal Process Quickly
It is not fair to say that you should avoid buying a house with mold under all circumstances. In some cases, the presence of mold can be mild and easily fixable. But it is far easier to remove the mold before you move in – so scheduling an inspection before the purchase is the best approach.
Non-toxic molds can be removed with a deep cleaning, especially on surfaces like tiles, sinks, or tubs. Bleach and heavy-duty cleaners can be used to scrub away mold. However, you may want to hire a professional cleaning service to take care of this issue.
If mold is growing in the carpets of the home, it is best to have it carefully removed and replaced. The floor beneath should be sprayed and cleaned out before a new carpet is installed to prevent this from growing again. Pieces of moldy drywall, insulation, or wallpaper will also need to be removed and replaced.
You may also want to consider renovating areas of the home where mold has grown to add in better ventilation.
6. It is Your Buyer’s Due Diligence
As a buyer, you’ll need to perform your due diligence to protect yourself. However, there’s no real mandate for a real estate agent or previous owners to follow any specific obligations regarding mold.
Now, it is fairly standard for potential buyers to schedule a home inspection for a property. A standard home inspection will supply you with a host of helpful information. Often an inspector will signal a problem with the plumbing, foundation, or roof of the home. This is the time to schedule an indoor air quality mold inspection.
An inspector’s role in assessing the overall structural integrity of a building, so what may be a small thing at the time (like mold or condensation) can be missed entirely. A mold inspection cost will be in addition to your home inspection, but the information and reassurance you get from it are worth it.
7. You can Leverage Test Results in Negotiations
If your professional mold inspection results show an unusual presence of mold in the home, you can use it as leverage in your purchasing negotiations.
First, you could ask for a reduced sales price as mold impacts the overall value of a home significantly. In most cases, the property value of a home with mold can drop by as much as 23%. This means that you could purchase the home for thousands of dollars under the original asking price. Another option is to request that the current owners fix the issue before proceeding.
When in Doubt, Trust the Experts
Make sure you have the exciting closing day you’re hoping for by ensuring that there will be no unwelcome surprises once you move in. A mold inspection is an excellent place to start.
There is no risk in scheduling a professional mold inspection in any home that you’re seriously considering buying. The process is quite simple, and it will give you peace of mind that you are making the right investment.
Our experts at Air Labs in Montreal, Quebec, specializing in home indoor environmental inspection. We also offer solutions and recommendations to help remediate the problem should anything be found. Please leave it to our experts to identify any potential risks so that you go into your next home purchase confident and at ease.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
First published on: June 26, 2020
Updated: July 15, 2021