Buying A House: When Should Mold Be A Concern?

Posted on: 6 November 2017

When you are looking for a new house to buy, part of the buying process is a home inspection that helps to rule out hidden problems, poor fixes, or code violations. Most of the problems that turn up in a home inspection are minor, but sometime your inspector might notice a big issue like structural damage or termites.

So, when your inspector finds evidence of mold, should that be a deal breaker? Here's what every buyer needs to know about mold and whether or not it is a major or minor concern when buying a home.

More Professional Expertise

A basic home inspector may notice a spot of mold here or there, but only a certified mold remediation company can tell the extent of the problem. A leaky pipe in your bathroom cabinet, for example, might make an isolated and easily fixed mold problem. But whole-house humidity might make an entire basement moldy, and you won't know until a mold inspector takes a closer look in areas that your home inspector won't check. 

Only after this second inspection can you know if the house you're buying will take a few hundred dollars to remediate or if you're looking at a more expensive problem.

Bigger Issues

Sometimes, mold can indicate that there is a bigger problem. Mold only grows in homes that have trouble with moisture, and the source of that moisture can be a headache for a homeowner.

For example, mold in the bathroom might be because of bad ventilation or because of poorly installed plumbing in the shower. The mold spreads behind the tiles, and the water starts to rot joists and frame supports. One leak with visible mold might eventually mean ripping the entire bathroom out to the studs, costing thousands in fixtures, flooring, and mold-resistant sheetrock and tile.

Exterior moisture trouble can lead to problems in your basement. Badly installed siding, for instance, might cause leaks into the home, leading to moisture growth inside the walls. Fixing the siding is more costly than fixing the mold, but you'll always have mold unless the siding is fixed. 

A small mold problem with a simple solution, on the other hand, might require simply running a dehumidifier in the home, which will not be costly at all. 

You always want to know the underlying cause of the mold problem and what it will take to fix both. 

Seller Disclosures

Has your seller been honest? Check the disclosures for any history of water or mold problems. If you notice mold during the inspection but the seller has not put anything on the disclosure, you might want to walk away. If a simple inspection shows trouble with mold and moisture, any good homeowner should have noticed. If they didn't notice, the house may not be as well-maintained as you would like. If they did notice, then they are not being open on the disclosures, which could mean other problems are being covered up as well.

Personal Health

Finally, mold can affect different people in different ways. While you should always seek remediation, buying a house with mold present may not be a big deal for you if you have great health. However, if you have allergies or asthma, buying a house with mold is a bigger risk, and getting it remediated has to be an immediate expense for health reasons. 

If you know that mold is a common issue in your area, you might look for a home with mold-contingent offers, especially if you or a family member has health problems. This way, the seller is obligated to fix the issue or allow you to walk away from the offer. 

For more information, contact a business that offers home inspections for mold near you.