A Home Inspector finds a “Mold like Substance”,
What Should You Do Now?
Curren receives many calls where the home inspection report flags a fungal like growth, possible Mold like substance, black mold and evaluation by a licensed a qualified Mold company is recommended” sometimes the home inspector adds the following “Mold is due to high moisture levels” or “a Mold inspection is recommended due to a possible allergic reaction”. In the state of New Jersey Home Inspectors are not licensed to inspect for Mold, they can state “fungal like growth” “Mold like substance” and recommend further evaluation. This is where Curren Environmental offers their expertise on the Mold Inspections and Mold Remediation.
When a Home Inspector finds Mold and recommends a further evaluation what should the realtor and buyer/seller do? First, is suspect mold is found in an unfinished attic, basement or crawl space, understand these are the most common areas for growth as these spaces are unconditioned. By unconditioned I mean not heated or cooled by a HVAC system. Mold likes to grow at temperatures and moisture (humidity) levels humans do not. If you find yourself holding a home inspection you should contact an environmental company that has been in business for a long time (over 10-20 years) not one with PO Box # with an address and one that doesn’t just work with Mold and is not into restoration.
On the further evaluation on the “Mold like substance”. If the Home Inspector sends a detailed report to the buyer/seller with photos than that document can be emailed to the Mold Inspector. Better inspectors photo document and detail where, most home inspectors do not list the mold location in great detail. When photos are available, often times a qualified mold consultant can determine the complaint room and if Mold is present. Curren Environmental typically will visit the property in question, do a walking inspection, check for any ways of water entry and get measurements of complaint room to provide a scope of work involved and a detailed quote to remediate without testing (Again EPA does not recommend testing if Mold is visibly present). During this type of transaction the buyer usually is the one who has the home inspection and would like the Mold remediation. This Mold Remediation scope and quote is given to the seller who in turn either gets the remediation done or the price is worked into the cost of the house and the buyer gets the Mold remediation done after the purchase of the home.
It is safest to get the mold work done before you buy, in the event that additional mold is found, say behind a wall or above a sheetrock ceiling. After any mold remediation is performed, we provide a detailed checklist with how to remain moisture free (ex. Adding gutters, leading water away from the dwelling, closing cracks in the foundation. Etc)
In most cases Mold takes years to grow, especially in older homes. If a qualified Home Inspector provides a detailed report there typically is no need to test the Mold unless the seller wants to contest that what was found is actually mold. Again EPA does not recommend testing when obvious Mold growth is present. The only reason to test for Mold is if the buyer really wants to know what type of spore it is such as Cladosporium or Stachybotrys or one of the 100’s of thousands of spores.
Now, in the case that there is no visible sign of Mold but the home inspector feels as if there might be a moisture problem and a Mold Inspection should be performed than there should be Mold Testing. Mold inspections are a safe bet when you are dealing with a house that had undergone rehab, a flipper is involved or in general the house has been improved specifically for sale. From years of experience it is these homes where we find mold. Since the cosmetic work performed is meant to give the home inside curb appeal, people take short cuts, as we have found the following.
- They may remove mold themselves not following proper procedures and we find high levels of spores in the air. We also find that they don not address the water issue that caused the mold.
- Mold gets painted over.
- Moldy basements get finished with sheetrock, covering over the mold.
- Insulation is placed on moldy ceilings in basements and crawl spaces.
- Crawl space openings get sealed over to avoid access for inspection.
This is when Curren Environmental would perform a Thorough Mold Inspection. When no mold is visible present but there is reason to believe mold is present, inspections look for hidden mold, this is where testing (air) is mandatory as this form of testing is highly reliable in finding hidden mold.
- Visual Inspection of the outside of the property
- Visual Inspection of the inside of the property
- Infrared inspection
- Moisture reading
- Check walls for moisture
- Air testing (one outside and one in complaint rooms)
As a realtor or a buyer be very careful in a situation like this. Mold can be hidden, and hidden well behind those freshly painted walls and newly painted trim. Above that painted ceiling as well.
Remember, most common areas of a residential property for Mold growth are in areas where moisture is high. Areas that are cold damp or have a high humidity - such as the attic, crawl space, basement, under the sink, next to the bathtub or in a closet. Other areas highly likely areas for Mold to grow are around the furnace (might be leaking or wet), near a sump pump or in an area that you haven’t been in a very long time (like that closet in the basement with all those empty Amazon boxes!).
If the Home Inspector requests a further evaluation by a qualified Mold company it’s in your best interest to do so. In New Jersey there are NO licensed Mold companies, (only 4 states have licensing) go with a referral or again one that has been in business for a many years and is an Environmental company.