Would you buy a house that had a prior mold problem?

CaroleOHJune 23, 2010

We have found a home that we both like quite a bit. It's just the perfect layout etc. for us.

The problem this house has is, as my husband says, it has a checkered past.

It was built in 2002 - partially finished and sat empty for 4 years while the builder went through financial issues. Towards the end of this time period, the electricity was turned off, the sump pump wasn't working, so water flooded the basement during a storm.

There was a good amount of mold that grew in the basement and around some of the window sills, around drywall where the vents came out etc.

In 2007, a mold remediation company was hired to come in and clean it all up - removing drywall, flooring whatever was needed to fix the situation. We've seen the original report and there was an inspection by a different unbiased inspector after the work was completed.

The current owners have lived there 2 years and the house has been redone, new floors etc. and is lovely. We are planning on having a house inspection along with a mold inspection of our own, but since 2 years has passed since the remediation and the house and basement are dry and don't have any odors etc. do you think that it's safe to say the mold is a thing of the past?

The mold removal/drying etc was about $8000. The drywall redo/flooring redo etc. was estimated at about $9000.

This is a good size house and with the trims/flooring etc. the home pricing is over $600,000.

If it passes all inspections, would you buy it?

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It sounds like the right thing was done in 2007--not just the work done by a specialized company, but also a separate inspection after they were finished. As long as your inspection comes back clean, I would go for it.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 10:07AM
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Hire a certified and/or licensed environmental company that SPECIALIZES in air quality testing and mold testing as opposed to a home inspector who took a quickie "Mold is Gold" course.

There is a science to proper testing protocol which, if not followed, can produce faulty results. In other words, an "all clear" when it is anything but all clear.

That said, I'm curious as to why the sellers are selling after only two years...ESPECIALLY in this market. If it is anyhting other than financial trouble, or job/family relocation, buyer beware.

Also, FYI, as far as a home inspection is concerend, the HI will only be able to tell you about what is visible...not what may be hidden behind walls. As such, there is no "pass" or "fail" with a home inspection. The HI should only tell you about what he may find, and you then decide how you wish to proceed in terms of purchase. Make sure you hire a thorough HI..as opposed to check list/same day report Charlie who will be in and out of the house in an hour or so...as that is NOT a thorough job...or report.

Last but not least, houses do not like to stand empty...especially in an unfinished state. There really is no way to know for sure what lurks underneath the drywall in terms of compromised structure that is not yet evident for the HI to see during inspection.

Take that under advisement...as the house should be priced accordingly to reflect its "checkered" past...and best wishes.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 11:50AM
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Thanks Logic for your thoughts. The house was bought by a real estate agent once the bank had taken it back. So it was a foreclosed property. She and her husband take these houses as investments and live in them for two years and then find another one to redo and live in and then they sell it. She bought it for a steal, and it's priced probably $100,000 less than what optimal market pricing would be on these houses.

I spoke today with the owner of the company who did the mold removal and he remembered the house. He said the mold was in the basement mostly on the drywall. Once the drywall was all removed and there were some mold issues around several windows and around some of the duct vents - again on the drywall. They removed all that drywall, did their cleanings, duct cleaning whatever one does to remove the mold.

He said while there was mold, other damage was just due to excess moisture - wood floors cupping, cabinet drawers wouldn't open etc. Those have all been replaced.

I know houses don't like to stand empty. I'm just feeling a bit better about the fact that it has been lived in for two years and the reconstruction is done and there isn't any visible, odor etc issues.

I will insure the inspections are done by certified people.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 1:05PM
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caroleoh: "I will insure the inspections are done by certified people."

That is your best bet. Also if your town/city requires permits for any of the renovations that took place, check to make sure that the sellers obtained them when they fixed/renovated, and also that they obtained all of the final approvals.

Hope it all works out in your favor.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 4:44PM
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The other thing I would look into is potential homeowner's insurance issues. Call your agent and make sure your company won't have a problem insuring a home that has had previous, serious mold problems. Or, that the premiums won't be prohibitive because of the home's history.

I just posted in another thread about the CLUE database or Comprehensive loss underwriting exchange.

" 7.How can a CLUE report pose problems for homeowners or future homeowners?
When faced with a prospective insured, insurance providers use the CLUE database to find out information not only about the customer, but also about the residence to be covered. Often this will cause problems for homeowners who have recently purchased a property. If they assume they will be able to get insurance easily because they always have had coverage and have never made any claims, they may be surprised when they are turned down based on claims made on their new property by the previous owners. Therefore, savvy realtors are increasingly requiring a copy of the seller's CLUE report as a condition for closing.

Experts suggest that filing 2 claims within 3 years will subject an individual consumer or home to significant risk of being rejected by insurance carriers. ** However, even more damaging to the ability to get insurance for a given property is the presence of water-related claims. Insurance companies have responded to a recent surge in water and mold related claims by drastically cutting back on coverage for water damage and increasing premiums for properties with past claims for water damage. ** "

Here is a link that might be useful: CLUE

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 7:59AM
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Excellent advice deee....and very good to know.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 11:36AM
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Our home is a teardown. The city had issued permits to tear down and to build to our plans when an irate neighbor decided to cause trouble. (This is *that* kind of town.)

It took three months (in winter) to get moving forward on the build. The contractor had a pump going to clear water from the basement, but when we started framing, mold became obvious in parts of the basement.

This was 2000 -- before insurance companies stopped covering mold. It cost State Farm $16K to treat our 2000 sq ft basement -- men in 'spacesuits', etc. (How I wished we could send the bills to that neighbor!)

We moved in in the fall of 2001. The house has been fine.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 3:05PM
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