You’ve found your dream home after a long, tiresome search, but you learn that the property has a mold problem. Mold spores, which are caused by a fungus, grow in moisture. The spores multiply and spread, and can cause health problems that range from mild to serious.
You aren't ready to walk away, but mold is scary. Is buying that home a safe and smart purchase if the mold problem is resolved? The answer depends on the extent of the mold and its source.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
If a home you're interested in purchasing has a mold problem, you may be able to make necessary repairs depending on the source and extent of the mold. You'll need a professional inspector to examine the home and determine what needs done.
Why Is Mold a Problem?
Mold spores are a normal part of the environment. The problem begins when the spores find a continuous source of moisture, such as leaks or wet housing materials, in which to grow. Mold grows on many surfaces and digests those surfaces to survive. Visible mold is an eyesore, but some molds have a bad odor.
Mold can cause serious, progressive damage to property, but health concerns from a possibly unseen danger are more worrisome. Mold can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Although most molds are not toxic, the mycotoxins produced by some molds are blamed for the seizures, fatigue and other serious symptoms some people experience from contact with the fungus.
How Contingencies Help
Before considering buying a home with mold problems, you need protections that allow you to back out of or renegotiate the sale. Whether you discover the mold during your walk-through, through disclosure from the owner or agent, or as the result of an inspection, take control by adding contingencies to your written offer. Contingencies work to your benefit if a mold problem is discovered during a housing inspection or not resolved to your satisfaction.
An inspection or mold contingency allows you to walk away from the sale. If problems are found, ask for a reduced selling price and require the seller to repair the mold. A homeowner’s insurance contingency protects you if insurance companies refuse to insure the home because of mold.
Assessing the Problem
Mold can be repaired – the moisture source can be removed, and measures can be adopted to prevent future occurrences. A mold assessment conducted by a licensed mold specialist can help you determine the best course of action.
Even if you know that mold exists, more extensive testing might be in order if you suspect hidden mold could be a problem. Inspectors test the air, take samples from walls and look for mold in attics, crawl spaces, basements, between walls and in ceilings. Those inspectors will look for the moisture source, seeking out poor drainage, faulty plumbing, roof or foundation problems and flooding damage. Their final report will detail the problem and the necessary repairs.
Cost and Reinspection
The cost to assess and repair the mold problem includes inspection fees, which can be costly for more detailed inspections. Repairs involve cleaning, treating and removing contaminated items, and correcting the problem causing the moisture. The process might include efforts to prevent a recurrence of mold, such as dehumidifiers and improved insulation and ventilation. A reinspection of the home after mold repair will enlighten you on whether you should purchase the home.
Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.