Why A Mold Inspection Is Important!
A legal case illustrates the potential problems that can occur if you hire a home inspector that is not experienced in explaining the problems that moisture issues can cause.
In this case, the inspector did not find any visible mold, leaks or any visible signs of moisture. The buyer advised all parties (real estate agents and inspector) that they had a mold allergy and relied on the home inspector to advise if there could be a potential problem. In the report, the inspector did advise that there was exterior brickwork at the base of the home that needed repair, but did not explain to the home buyer, that this could lead to moisture seepage into the home and eventually cause mold issues.
Within three months of purchasing the home, the new owners began to get sick and sued the seller, home inspector, and agent for the costs to fix the problem.
The judge ruled in the plaintiffs favor and decided that the home inspector should pay for the buyer’s loss, despite the fact that the home inspection agreement had a limitation of liability clause:
The judge decided that the inspector should have known that the damaged concrete and driveway at the front of the home could result in leaks to the foundation which could eventually cause mould, which would be especially problematic for someone who was allergic to it.
What lessons can be learned from this?
Home Inspectors Are Not Mold Experts!
The basic problem with mold is that it can be hidden underneath carpet, a new paint job, baseboards, behind walls, above ceiling, etc. In short, you could have a mold problem and not even know it and since some people get sick and others don’t the seller of the home may not even realize they have mold concerns.
Most home inspectors are not trained to identify mold concerns or the potential causes of mold. They may point out water stains or advise you that your basement has an odor, identify water seepage or a leaky roof, but will they advise you that this could lead to mold?
Furthermore, like many business owners, home inspectors rely on referrals and the biggest source of referrals tends to be real estate agents, whose primary objective is to sell property. Obviously, mold concerns present some challenges to sellers of homes and so could there be a potential conflict of interest?
Real Estate Agents Are Not Mold Experts!
In this court case, the buyer of the home also tried to sue the real estate agents. The judge ruled that the home inspector should shoulder the full burden of the mold remediation cost because real estate agents are not general contractors and may not have the knowledge necessary to understand that moisture issues will lead to mold.
The primary goal of real estate professionals is to facilitate the sale of property. Most agents are good at sales and marketing, but they are not experts at mold. Some agents with a background in construction may have some knowledge about mold, but let’s face it, the goal of an agent is to earn commissions from the sale of property, so their end goal is pretty defined.
The only way that an agent may know that there is mold or potential mold problems is if they know what to look for. In addition, the agent is relying on the honesty of the home seller in disclosing all the potential moisture concerns that the home may have. If there was mold in the home and the seller painted over it or tried to hide it, will the agent know? In short, what if the seller is dis-honest and trying to sell because there is a mold issue and hides the problem?
Mold Remediation Can Be Expensive!
In the legal case cited, the buyer of the home sued for damages because the remediation costs were high. As mentioned in an earlier article, the cost of mold remediation will depend on three key factors:
1. How much of the area is infected with mold?
2. What kind of materials are infected?
3. How easy is it to access the mold?
On average, the typical household mold removal project will range from $2,000 to $6,000, but can be as high as $30,000 or more depending on the extent of contamination.
Don’t Be Penny Wise, Pound Foolish!
The most important lesson: if you are buying a home, invest in a mold inspection! The cost of a mold inspection is negligible considering the cost to remove mold if you buy the home and find the problem. As the saying goes, “Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish“. If you are in the market for a home and invest in a home inspection, also consider investing in a mold inspection. It is better to be safe than sorry with your money and your health.
If you have questions and are planning to buy a home and want to ensure that you do not have potential mold concerns contact us.
— MSZ Restoration (@mszrestoration) June 27, 2015