How serous a problem is mold?
Mold has been tied to asthma, skin problems, and allergic reactions. That’s why mold is something you really don’t want in your buildings – whether you are renting them, renovating them, or living in them.
Here are some ways to reduce the chances that a building you are considering as a real estate investment has a mold problem . . .
- Ask your building inspector how he or she will test for mold. A real estate inspection should include a thorough assessment of the building for both visible signs of water damage and mold growth. If your inspector suspects mold, he or she should inspect the hidden interior surfaces of walls by inserting a fiber-optic viewer through a small hole that has been drilled in them. The inspector should also collect air samples from basement rooms especially, and send them to a lab for testing.
- Be sure to avoid buildings in low-lying, flood-prone areas.
- Also avoid buildings that have experienced moisture-related problems, such as basement that have flooded, roofs that have leaked, or burst pipes.
- If you discover fresh paint in an area that is moisture-prone (such as on sheetrock that covers a crawl space), the paint may be an attempt to conceal mold stains. While mold can be scrubbed from non-porous surfaces such as metal or plastic, it is much more difficult to eradicate all traces of it on porous surfaces such as sheetrock, plywood, or concrete.
- Remember, buildings with forced-air heating or central air conditioning (or both) can be especially vulnerable to mold. Spores can spread through ducts that carry warm or cold air. Your inspector should test for the presence of spores in heating/cooling ducts.
- Ask your attorney to investigate whether lawsuits or insurance claims have been filed by previous residents of the property.
Don’t minimize the danger. Even if the problem appears small, remember that it can scare off potential buyers, who might run at the prospect of buying a building with even a trace of mold.
To Learn More
For more information about mold inspection and remediation, check out these resources:
- A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home (book) by the Environmental Protection Agency. Free download at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Quality resource page, http://www.epa.gov/mold/
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