Last Updated on February 1, 2014
Paying for a home inspection is an essential part of buying a house. Although a reputable, independent inspector could charge upwards of $500 for a full inspection, their advice may save you thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, Alberta and British Columbia are the only two Canadian provinces where home inspectors are part of a regulated industry, according to the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors. Unless you live in either of these provinces, you may have a hard time finding a quality inspector. Even if the inspector you find is registered, they may not tell you these five key facts about mold.
#1. ‘I Don’t Test For Mold’
It surprises most people that mold testing is not included in standard home inspections. Home inspections are visual meaning that the inspector will only look at things in plain sight. Inspectors will check for visual evidence of mold such as spores, signs of damp and discoloration. To check for mold, air quality testing is required. Many home inspectors will offer this as an additional service if you ask. It involves an air sample being taken and sent to an independent lab for testing.
#2. ‘I Don’t Use Thermal Imaging Equipment’
Visual inspections can easily overlook the presence of water or damp in hidden areas of a home. Water problems are likely to be hidden away in places that are not easily seen. Inspectors may miss damp behind fixtures such as cupboards or over windows. Thermal imaging equipment is a very important tool when checking a home for mold. Moist areas will show up as darker colors because they are cooler, indicating that water is present. You should consider hiring an inspector that uses this equipment if you want to buy a mold-free home.
#3. ‘Mold Causes Serious Health Problems’
According to the CAHPI, it is common for unregistered inspectors to understate the presence of mold when they make their report. They may use vague phrases that point to conditions where mold may become an issue. What they will not tell you is that mold can cause repertory illnesses and that long term exposure is very dangerous. It is always wise to treat any mention of mold very seriously and have the home properly inspected.
#4. ‘Mold Is Expensive To Eliminate’
Inspectors are generalists and may not have direct experience of dealing with mold. They may offer air quality testing and have ties with local mold specialists but may not tell you how expensive mold it to eliminate. Many homeowners inadvertently spread the mold spores when they try to clean, meaning that the problem magnifies. Dealing with even a small amount of mold is a costly undertaking. If your inspector indicates that a home has even a hint of mold, you should demand that the home’s owners fix it or reduce the sale price to cover the damage. Most sales contracts make provisions for this scenario.
#5. ‘I Don’t Guarantee My Findings’
A sad fact of all home inspection reports is that they are only valid for the day of the inspection. It is very difficult and expensive to begin legal proceedings against an inspector if they miss a problem such as mold. The best advice is to accompany your inspector during the inspection and share your concerns with them. Consider paying for independent air quality testing if your inspector advises you to do so, it could save you many thousands of dollars.