When buying or selling a home with mold, first and foremost, don't panic. You may find comfort in knowing you're not alone. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Lung Association, up to 50 percent of all structures have damp conditions favorable to amplification of biological pollutants. Further, the American Industrial Hygiene Association has estimated that up to of building microbial problems are not even visible.
Isn't mold found everywhere? Mold is ubiquitous in the natural environment (outdoors). When mold growth is visible on surfaces or when mold-impacted materials are disturbed, mold particulate (spores, hyphae, fragments) and odors may be released. Since the outdoor air mixes with indoor air, some minor amounts of mold particulate typically will be present in indoor environments. Mold can become a problem indoors, however, when local environmental factors (moisture, temperature and presence of nutrients) favor significant mold growth and are allowed to persist. When moisture accumulates on organic material (including organic debris and cellulose-based building materials) and conditions are favorable, mold spores which are naturally present in the indoor environment will germinate within 12 hours of wetting and visible mold growth may occur.
After germination, within 5 to 10 days mold will begin the reproductive process of forming and releasing spores into the air and consequently, indoor air quality may suffer if elevated levels are reached. An estimated 10 percent of the U.S. population has fungal sensitivity, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Asthmatics sensitive to Alternaria fungi faced a 200-fold risk for respiratory arrest.
How does moisture which causes mold to grow get into my building? Modern buildings are designed to keep moisture out. But moisture intrusion can occur through many types of penetrations in the building envelope (roof and exterior walls) by deteriorated materials, failures in building systems, construction defects and design flaws.
Building systems deliver water to the locations where it is needed (e.g., fire sprinkler systems, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas), but moisture problems may arise from plumbing & roof leaks, heavy wind-driven rains, overflows, absence of gutters/downspouts, incidental spills and high humidity & condensation, when interior areas are not properly ventilated. Long-term moisture and mold accumulations can also result in deterioration of building materials.
Isn't there an incredible amount of debate between health experts regarding the effects of mold exposure? The answer to this question is yes. However, mostly all experts agree scientific evidence links mold and other factors related to damp conditions in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people.
Attention Sellers! Remember the old Latin expression Caveat Emptor 'Let the buyer beware', well my friends, the new expression in today's litigious market is Caveat Venditor or 'Let the seller beware. The state's disclosure mandate asks home sellers and agents to provide information to prospective buyers about environmental hazards making mold a potential resale issue. This leads us to today's topic. It is my professional opinion, after doing thousands of microbial investigations and acting as an expert witness in many court cases, when selling property you will be better served by leaving your personal feelings about mold and it's health effects out of your decision making process. Let the experts sort FACT from FICTION on the health effects of mold.
Instead, the economic ramifications of mold should be your guiding beacon. With Over 10,000 legal cases pending in the U.S. - a 300% increase in cases since 1999, California is #2 in the nation behind Texas for mold lawsuits and payouts. The prudent thing to do, when you discover mold in your property either before or during the course of the sale, is to protect yourself (seller or sellers agent) from possible future litigation by beginning a process of identifying all contaminated areas including hidden mold reservoirs followed by remediation and post-remediation clearance testing.
If you can imagine this, even though the debate continues on the health effects of mold, the average mold settlement in California is $800,000. More recently, plaintiffs' attorneys have expanded the typical theories of relief, asserting claims for intentional inflection of emotional stress, which, if successful, would lead to the recovery of punitive damages. Many of the 10,000 plus legal cases pending, sorry but true, are due to sellers/agents unintentional or deliberate abuse of the disclosure law.
Here's another reason to identify mold issues, remediate and perform post remediation clearance testing prior to sale. According to Reality Times, case studies have shown a 17 -24% reduction in value in homes in a 'premeditation' condition and only up to 3% reduction in value in a 'post-remediation' condition. This information tends to suggest, if remediation is determined to be cost effective, little, if any, affect on your home value after remediation and a return to near an 'unaffected' market value.
Attention Buyers! Finding visible mold or red flags of mold in your in your new, dream home may not be cause to cancel the transaction. Consider this, the water intrusion source, microbial staining or elevation of fungi spores may only be isolated to a very small area. A mold inspection and a possibly, relatively inexpensive remediation effort will solve your mold issue(s) and preserve your dream. Of course, you may also learn that the home is severely water damaged with high levels of fungal spores throughout the property. Either way, the findings provided by a good, certified mold inspector will prove extremely prudent and an invaluable investment in your decision to buy or not buy.
How do I prevent mold growth? Organisms do not grow in the air. They grow on surfaces, in water, and within bulk materials. They become aerobiological problems when conditions arise that lead to aerosols, exposure, and illness or discomfort. Minimize mold growth by controlling moisture. When building materials are kept dry, the mold spores that are 'naturally' present on the surfaces of these materials indoors will not reproduce and colonize the underlying materials (substrates).
Safeguard EnviroGroup, Inc. is well respected in the indoor environmental industry for Mold and Sewage investigations, Asbestos and lead assessments, Combustion Byproduct Analysis and Hazardous Gas/Vapor investigations. Brad Kovar can be reached for questions by calling Safeguard EnviroGroup, Inc. at (626)335-3145 or by visiting our website www.safeguardenviro.com Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org