Buying a home with mold is setting you up for future problems with your home and your health. A mold inspection from a professional – even if it is part of a general home inspection – can alert you to potential mold problems in the home. Once the inspection is complete, you will have all the information needed to make your next move.
You have several choices if signs of mold are present during your inspection:
- Don’t buy the home
- Buy the home and deal with the potential consequences
- Negotiate with the owner or real estate company
Buying a Home: Is Mold a Deal-Breaker?
Some buyers assume that the presence of mold is an automatic NO for that particular home. Is mold a good enough reason to turn your back on the home of your dreams?
That answer depends on the amount of mold that is present, how long it has been there, and your willingness to deal with it.
Mold is a big problem in homes because it can make you sick. Plus, mold deteriorates organic building materials like wood, wallpaper, drywall paper, and fabrics.
Mold can grow anywhere as long as it has food, water and adequate temperature. The location of your home really doesn’t matter as long as these three things are present. Water can come from spills, leaks or excessive humidity levels. Mold feeds on organic materials in the air and on your home’s surfaces. So as you can see, it doesn’t take much for a home to develop a mold issue.
Some common places it is found include:
- Basements & attics
- Around pipes where leaks and/or condensation is present
- Homes with poor ventilation
- Homes that are sealed well
By no means is this an exhaustive list, though. Mold can grow in carpet where a drink has been spilled or where a pet accident has occurred. It is also very common in the bathroom because humidity is always high, but bathroom mold is also pretty easy to clean up on your own.
Signs to Look for During an Inspection
It’s a smart idea to determine if there are mold issues in a home before you purchase it. There may be stipulations in your purchase agreement that require the mold to be taken care of before the home can be sold.
Once you own it, it’s your problem.
The inspection is the perfect time to spot mold. If you feel that it is necessary, you can have a separate mold inspection performed. Just be aware that this inspection may not be included in the seller’s responsibilities, so you may incur the cost yourself.
Here are a few common signs of mold:
- Musty smell – Mold gives off a distinct smell that you won’t need an inspection to discover.
- Water marks – Water marks mean there has been a leak or spill. This doesn’t indicate mold, but it does indicate that the conditions are good for mold growth.
- Weakened boards – Mold and water damage weaken wood and other building materials, devaluing your home and leading to expensive repairs.
- Black stains – Mold colonies can be black, green, bluish, and even pink or orange, so keep your eyes open for unusual colors and stains.
Something else to look at is the building material. Mold thrives in unventilated homes, which means new, well-insulated homes are at just as much risk as older homes. If the home you are buying has synthetic stucco or added insulation, keep your eyes open for ventilation issues that could lead to mold.
Although a general inspector may see signs of mold, they aren’t required to report these findings. But if you specifically ask, they will tell you if there are any suspicious areas.
Some states require sellers to disclose water- and mold-related issues about a home they are selling, but others do not. Make it your business to know the laws in your state, and if it is required, simply ask.
About 50% of homes in the U.S. have mold issues, so it’s not anything to be ashamed about on the seller’s side, and it’s not necessarily a reason to void the sale on the buyer’s end. Mold is just another homeowner issue that you may have to deal with, but knowing about it upfront gives you a huge advantage.
You may not know this is an issue, but it ca be a lifesaver down the road if mold is found in the home after you have purchased it: Add a mold clause to your purchase offer.
If you are interested enough to make a formal offer on the home, but you still want assurance that the home is mold-free, you can opt to have professional mold testing done. The cost of mold testing – and any subsequent mold removal – can be figured into the purchase price of the home. You can share the costs with the seller, or they can assume all mold-related costs.
Either way, you’ll have peace of mind about the presence of mold in your future home.
Professional mold testing is expensive and takes a little time, so if you’re in a hurry to buy a home, you may not feel like waiting on the results. If that’s the case, be prepared to deal with the consequences of finding mold later on, after the problem is yours alone to deal with.
What to Do if There Are Signs of Mold?
The big question is, should you proceed with the purchase? If mold is found in a home you are considering for purchase, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, but there are some things to think about.
- What was the cause of the mold?
If the mold was the result of a spill or leak that has since been fixed, there’s little chance that it will be a recurring problem. On the other hand, if the basement or roof leaks, you’re probably looking at an ongoing problem and expensive repairs.
- Does someone in your home have respiratory issues?
People with asthma and other breathing problems will be highly affected by mold in their new home. Elderly people and small children are very susceptible to mold-related health complications.
- How severe is the mold problem?
A small amount of mold is easy to remove, so it wouldn’t cause any further problems, but it could give you some leverage during the sale.
Once you have considered these questions, you need to decide if you are ready to take on the challenges and responsibilities of a home with mold. If you decide it’s worth the risk, call Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois to help you re-establish healthy mold levels in your new home.