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John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Robert Weitz of RTK Environmental, an environmental testing and consulting firm. Robert is a Certified Microbial Investigator. Today, we’ll be talking about mold inspection when buying a house. Welcome, Robert.

Robert Weitz:  Thank you, John.

Is mold inspection when buying a house required?

John:  Robert, if I’m looking to buy a house, am I required to get a mold inspection? Is it a good idea to get a mold inspection before I buy a house?

Robert:  It is certainly a very good idea. Particularly through the past years, mold has become a bigger and bigger issue. Not that mold wasn’t always there, but people have become so much more aware of it and what the issues are, particularly health issues, asthma, all the different things that mold can cause. It’s become a lot more important.

Also, before you purchase that house, it’s one of the most important times for the buyer to beware. By having a home inspection done, that’s certainly an inspection of all the different components and how they function. A mold inspection is very specific and should be done by a very qualified individual.

At RTK Environmental, our inspectors are Certified Microbial Investigators, and that is a designation. It involves a tremendous amount of training and experience in the field over a period of time.

When you come into a house that you’re going to purchase, we’re working for the buyer. Not that the investigation is really any different, but we want to identify in that inspection, “OK. Are there current mold conditions? If there are, what’s the severity and what would need to be done in order to get rid of it?”

This is very important. As I often say to my clients, “You want to have your inspection done for mold prior to your purchase because if there is mold, it’s the seller’s mold. It’s not your mold yet. It’s the seller’s mold.

That’s the time to identify it. For a little bit of money, relatively speaking, you may identify a problem in that dwelling that may cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to take care of. Once you purchase the home, it might be very difficult to work backwards and get that seller to pay for what needs to be done.

If we identify a mold problem by a visual inspection, by thermal image, by moisture meters, by air testing, all of these things go together into a picture of what the mold condition is in a dwelling. If we find something, then in a negotiation process, typically, a buyer will say, “OK, seller. I found this mold through my inspection process, and I want it to be taken care of before I’m going to purchase this home.”

What if a mold inspection turns up mold issues?

John:  …which gets into my next question. I was going to say if the mold inspection turns up mold issues in the house, what should I do? You’re saying the first step would be to go back to the seller and say, “Hey, my inspection found mold in your house. Let’s negotiate and figure out what we’re going to do about this.”

Robert:  Just that. At that point it goes back to the mold that’s been identified being the seller’s mold.

Certainly, all deals are different. If someone feels that they’re getting a terrific deal on the house, then depending upon the severity of the mold, they may not even bring it back to the seller. They just may say, “Look. I’ll take care of it after I move in.”

In most cases, people are making the biggest investment of their life. They don’t particularly want to buy a house that has mold in it. Almost always that seller is going to become responsible, in one way or another, for either getting rid of it before the house is actually sold or putting money into escrow, it’s called, in order to cover the cost of the remediation after the house has been purchased.

Mold Inspection and Mold Remediation

John:  Will the mold inspector give me a rough idea of what the cost would be to remove the mold?

Robert:  Not a reputable mold inspector. An inspector that’s unbiased, no conflict of interest, is an inspector that does not do remediation. Be very careful in not hiring an inspector that also does remediation because obviously there’s a tremendous conflict of interest there.

Usually, the mold inspector does not have tremendous knowledge of what the remediation costs will be because they don’t do that work themselves. A careful inspector will usually not give even a ballpark price.

Our reports at RTK, that’s a tool, that’s a blueprint. You can give that right to a remediation company or two or three. They’re all bidding on the same thing. It’s the same blueprint. Then, they will give you pricing back of the cost that will be associated with that remediation and any cleanup that needs to be done as well.

Get a Mold Inspection When Buying a House

John:  When are the mold problems too big to deal with, where they might just keep me from buying a house? Or is it just a matter of cost in terms of getting rid of the mold?

Robert:  It’s just a matter of cost, although there have been documented times when houses have literally had to be torn down because of the extent of mold. In my 20 to 25 years of experience, I’ve never seen that. A mold issue almost always can be solved.

Something can be done, remediation can be done, cleaning of the whole house can be done if necessary. There’s almost always something that can be done to eliminate that mold so that the house can then at whatever degree be rebuilt, and then can be perfectly habitable, as long as the cause of the mold has been eliminated.

John:  All right. Buyer beware, and make sure that you get a mold inspection before you buy your house. Robert, thanks very much for speaking with me.

Robert:  Thank you, John.

John:  For more information, you can visit the RTK website, at rtkenvironmental.com or call 1‑800‑392‑6468.

70% of homes are estimated to have mold behind walls. (Harvard EDU)

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