Mold is a scary problem. It can be expensive to clean up and may create a need for repairs to the property. Money is not the only concern; mold can cause serious health problems. The problem with mold is that it is not always easy to detect. It can hide in walls, ceilings, floors and other hidden areas in your home. Because mold damage isn’t always apparent, some people suffer from prolonged exposure. In these cases, the mold causes so many health problems, and this is when mold is found to be the culprit. If you’re looking to buy a house, then mold should be a real concern.
How Does Mold Get Into a Home
Mold thrives in moist conditions. Mold spores grow and multiply which allows the spread of mold. Any time water is present, there is a possibility that mold is growing. There are activities we perform daily that could contribute to a mold problem. Some of these activities include:
- Cooking with the lid off
- Drying clothes on an indoor drying rack
- Taking hot showers and baths
- Using a humidifier
- Storing wood that is damp
- Watering plants
- Storing vegetables such as squash
All these activities seem innocent and mold probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when you are involved in such activities. However, each creates moisture and contributes to the ideal conditions where mold will grow.
Mold can also enter a home if the home was ever flooded. Additionally, slow leaks in the plumbing that cannot be seen can cause mold damage. That is why it is important to periodically inspect the ceilings to check for signs of leaks. It is much easier to correct the problem if you can catch it early.
Health Concerns & Risks
The problem with mold is that it creates a lot of health issues. And, because it can be difficult to detect, a person can suffer from prolonged exposure which creates more serious health problems. The longer you’re exposed to mold, the more serious the health problems will be that you suffer. Many of the symptoms that mold causes can easily be mistaken for other conditions or related to other illnesses. If you’ve been exposed to mold, it is possible to experience symptoms that include fatigue, depression, coughing, asthma, short-term memory problems, and joint pain.
Importance of Home Inspection
A home inspection is necessary if you are borrowing money to buy your home. Lenders will require an inspection to ensure there are no major problems with the home. They want to ensure the home for which you’re borrowing money is worth at least the loan amount. If big problems with the home are uncovered, such as mold damage, the home will immediately lose value. Therefore, a home inspection can be an essential tool in detecting evidence of mold damage. An inspector has a trained eye and may be able to spot water damage that is not so obvious to you.
Also, when buying a home, you are making an emotional purchase. This means that you could overlook details such as water damage by assuming that it’s not a big deal. An inspector will also look at areas in the home that you would never notice. If the inspector indicates that there’s a problem with mold, most home buyers would simply walk away and look for a comparable home that has no mold damage. However, if you have your heart set on the home, you can negotiate the selling price of the home based on your inspector’s findings. You can also negotiate with the seller to help clean up and remediate the mold problem.
In a perfect world, the seller would come right out and tell you that the home has mold damage and it’s going to be expensive to remediate. Because you cannot trust that the seller will do the right thing and tell you what’s going on, it is your job to search out problems with the home before you buy. If you want to put an offer on the home, you can add a mold contingency that basically says if the inspection isn’t satisfactory, you can negotiate the selling price or revoke your offer altogether. If you cancel the contract because of the inspection findings, you will get your deposit back.
Sellers in Virginia have no obligations to point out problems with a home. A seller must be truthful when asked questions about the home. They also cannot conceal any problems with the home. Unfortunately, a seller may sell you a home without being aware that mold damage exists. This does not excuse the seller from their responsibility. A buyer who finds mold after the purchase is complete can sue the seller for damages and make the seller pay for remediation and repairs, as well as other damages. The seller needs to realize that a buyer will not care that the buyer didn’t know about the mold or that the seller failed to take the time and expense to uncover mold damage.
The best way for a seller to handle their home that has mold damage, is to disclose that information right away to prospective buyers. Even though this bad news could send buyers running, it is still best to be honest and avoid any legal ramifications of letting the buyer find out about the mold after they have bought the house. Because Virginia doesn’t have specific disclosure laws, it may be tempting for a seller to avoid telling the buyer about mold problems. But, a seller does have an obligation to tell the buyer about such problems if the seller has knowledge of such.
The clean up and mold remediation process is expensive. But, if a home has mold damage it has to be cleaned up and the source of the problem needs to be dealt with to avoid future problems with mold. Mold is just like any other problem. If you ignore it, it won’t go away. And, the longer you ignore it, the worse it gets. A plan of action for mold remediation includes the following:
- Determine where the mold-damaged areas are.
- Calculate the extent of mold damage.
- Begin cleaning up the visible mold.
- Fix the water leak or other source that has caused the mold problem.
- Isolate the contaminated areas by closing doors and windows and sealing off cracks to that the contamination is contained.
- Spray a mist of water on the mold-damaged materials to prevent dust particles from getting in the air.
- Remove porous materials that have been damaged by mold or are wet.
- Place all mold-damaged materials in a thick trash bag and double-bag the materials. These can be placed in the regular trash after you have wiped down the bags with disinfecting solution before leaving the contaminated area.
- Thoroughly clean all non-porous materials and wooden surfaces. If possible, you should use a wire brush to scrub away the mold.
- Vacuum all surfaces with a HEPA vacuum.
- Wipe down all surfaces with a detergent solution and rinse with clean water.
- Look around and ensure that you don’t see any visible mold.
- Allow surfaces and materials to dry completely. To speed up the drying process, you can use dehumidifiers and fans or turn up the air temperature inside.
- Remove and replace any mold-damaged materials.
- Determine if the cleanup was successful. You’ll want to take note if you see any visible mold or water damage. However, if you’ve cleaned up all the mold, removed all mold-damaged materials, fixed the source of the mold problem and you no longer suffer health complications, you can rest assured that you’ve combated the mold damage in your home.
Insurance & Mortgage Concerns
Not only does mold create problems for your health, but it also poses a problem for insurance companies and even your lender. First off, most insurance companies will not cover anything related to mold damage. Keep in mind, though, that each insurance carrier is different, and coverage will depend on your policy and the specific language within your policy. Typically, insurance companies will not cover the following related to mold damage:
- Slow leak
- Poor maintenance
- Dampness created by humidity
There are some situations where your insurance company might help you out with mold damage. For instance, if your roof was damaged and caused a leak or a pipe suddenly bursts, creating a lot of water damage, you might be able to get some help from the insurance company. You will need to discuss with your insurer what they will cover in the way of mold damage. Many insurers have moved away completely from covering anything related to mold damage. Still, others will pay for cleanup and remediation, but will not pay for property losses because of the damage caused by mold. Some will pay for mold testing only. Hopefully, you’ll never need to deal with mold, but if you do, it’s good to know how much you’ll be able to rely on your insurance company so it’s a good idea to know what is covered.
If the inspection uncovers mold damage, your lender may not lend you the money to buy the home. A lender will only grant a loan for a home that is habitable. A home which contains mold damage is not habitable. The value of the home will be greatly decreased which means you would have to negotiate the selling price with the seller or come up with a larger down payment if you were still interested in purchasing the home.
Home Buyer Beware
You need to keep in mind that just because you don’t see any mold, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Mold has a way of staying hidden. A home is one of the largest investments you will ever make so it only makes sense that you want to take every step necessary to ensure you’re getting the house as you expect it to be. The last thing you want is to close on the home only to find there is a mold problem.
You also need to remember that insurance may not cover mold problems. This is going to leave you with a very expensive job of cleaning up the existing mold and remediating the property. You will then need to make the necessary repairs to prevent the mold from coming back. Not only is mold remediation expensive, but any exposure to mold can cause health problems ranging from mild to severe.
If you’re considering the purchase of a home, take the necessary steps to detect any problems with mold. It is easy to let your emotions guide you through the home purchase. But, don’t let your emotions cloud your rational thinking. You want to make sure the home you and your family are moving into is safe and mold-free. Therefore, take the necessary steps to ensure there’s no mold damage before you make the big purchase. Instead of worrying about mold when you buy that home, you want to focus on making your home your very own. And, you can only do that when you know the home is safe.
Call The Wright Choice Team today at 804-307-2589 to tour available homes for sale in the Chesterfield County area.