Buying a New Home?

There’s many calls which we field from new home owners suspecting their is mold or visibly seeing an issue after they moved in.  There are some cases upon inspection which have severe growth, or very costly remediation that went undetected by the home inspector.  I’ve spent years trying to inform everyone about home inspectors and how most do not do proper inspections or are in the back pocket of the realtor and/or lender. After the mold has been discovered, the new home owner faces unexpected costs after just shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars not only for the home, but also for closing costs, moving companies, etc.  How can you avoid this from happening to you?  The answer is simple: Getting a Mold Inspection Pre-Sale.  Prior to the purchase, it is within your right to have a mold inspection, and such an inspection should be completed by a Mold Inspector instead of the home inspector who is not fully trained in this type of inspection and is only looking to line his pockets a bit more.  A certified and insured home inspector, should take air samples and surface samples, primarily in the attic and on the basement joists, to insure that the home doesn’t have any growth or potential issues.  Several other inspection options can also aid you in knowing that your investment won’t drain your savings, like Moisture Mapping, Thermal Imaging and doing an Energy Audit. Remember, mold inspections are fairly inexpensive, do not take much time, and can put you in a position to know the home is clean and safe, or give you the proof that there are issues which could cost thousands of dollars, leading you to either renegotiate the price, or walk away.

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Culturable Air Sampling

Overview

Culturable air sampling is one of the most common methods of volumetric air sampling. The sampler works by drawing measured volumes of air through an instrument that contains a petri dish (or dishes) with culture media. Spores that impact onto the plate are then allowed to incubate and grow, after which the colonies may be counted and identified.

A general philosophy regarding the interpretation of biological air samples is formed primarily by two guiding principles. First, an effective interpretation is based on the comparison of indoor and outdoor samples. There are currently no guidelines or regulations to indicate “safe” or “normal” spore levels, however, we typically expect indoor counts to be 30 to 80 percent of outdoor spore counts, with the same general distribution of spore types present. And second, variation is an inherent part of biological air sampling. The presence or absence of a few genera in small numbers should not be considered abnormal.

Pros

Culturable air sampling allows for the differentiation of Aspergillus and Penicillium (speciation when required). It also provides counts indicative of how many spores are viable and present in the air. It can also be used to provide a bacterial count.

Cons

Culturable air sampling methods require that the spores in the air are alive, survive the sampling process, germinate on the sampling media, and compete well with other species present on the growth media. Culturable air sampling does not indicate the presence of non-viable spores, which may also be capable of producing allergies or irritation. Culturable air sampling also requires five to seven days for incubation after the sampling has taken place.

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Checking Mold Certifications

In a short addition to our Blog, we’ll discuss the importance of being certified in both Mold Inspection and Mold Remediation.  The first and foremost reason that such paperwork is required is because without proper certifications, insurance carriers will not issue a mold cert for the contractor.  And without mold insurance, home owners are not covered if the remediation should fail, if there is cross contamination or any other complication with the mold removal.  Prior to hiring any contractor, and without question before any contract is signed, ask your contractor for their certification in Mold Inspection, Mold Remediation and a certificate of insurance.  And be sure to call their insurance provider to insure the policy is still active and up to date, and that the work being preformed in your home is covered under their policy.  Any contractor refusing or delaying in providing such information is most likely not certified or insured or both.  Visit our website at biowashing.com

Mold In Infancy Raises Asthma Risks

Infants raised in a home with moldy areas may be more likely to develop childhood asthma. A new study shows that infants who lived in moldy homes were nearly three times more likely to have childhood asthma by age 7.
“Early life exposure to mold seems to play a critical role in childhood asthma development,” researcher Tina Reponen, PhD, professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, says in a news release. “This study should motivate expectant parents — especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma — to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children,” Reponen says.
Mold Tied to Asthma Risk
In the study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, researchers looked at factors associated with the risk of developing childhood asthma in a group of 176 children followed from birth in the Cincinnati, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky area.
Mold exposure in the home was measured using EPA standards, and the children were evaluated for asthma at age 7. The results showed that 18% of the children had childhood asthma by age 7. Children who lived in a home rated as having a high level of mold during the first year of life were 2.6 times more likely to have asthma as those who lived in homes with a low level of mold.
Researchers found that other factors associated with an increased childhood asthma risk were a family history of asthma and an allergic sensitization to dust mites. The study also showed that air-conditioning at home slightly reduced the risk of childhood asthma development. Researchers say about 9% of school-aged children in the U.S. will develop asthma. Symptoms of childhood asthma can range from a nagging cough to episodes of shortness of breath and wheezing that require emergency treatment.

Checking A Contractors Insurance

Home owners looking for a contractor make a major mistake when checking a contractor’s insurance.  I see between 400 to 500 projects per year and meet many potential clients and home owners.  And although most home owners understand the risk of allowing a contractor to perform work on your property without having insurance, many never ask.  Some do ask from time to time, but most will do that, just ask.  Very few homes owners ever ask to see proof of insurance and check if the insurance provided covers the type of work being preformed.  Focusing on mold removal as an example, this is one of the most difficult insurance policies to find because of the risk.  I have noticed that most of my competitors do not carry mold or pollution insurance because they may have had previous claims, or because of the main reason, the cost.  Mold/Pollution insurance is one of the highest types of construction policies to have, and many remediation companies will not carry this type of insurance.  Most will get just liability insurance, but if your home should be cross contaminated after project is completed, your home will not be covered for any losses.  Be sure to ask your contractor for a copy of his or her insurance and check with the insurance company to see if the policy is still active.  Remember, most policies can be written with one year terms but canceled on the first month for many reasons, and the contractor will still have a policy with a valid date.  So to insure your not a victim of this type of fraud, call the provider and check the accuracy of the policy, while also asking if the policy covers your home if there should be any damage.  You may also request that your home is listed on the insurance policy if you are doing a large job or if there are any machine rentals or the use of heavy equipment.  And if the company uses subcontractors, which is something we never do, be sure that that sub has the proper insurance as well.  These little details can and will save you thousands of dollars and possible litigation of there should be any problem on the job.  As for us, we carry 2 million dollars worth of Mold Removal, Pollution, and General Liability insurance and have a copy of our policy readily available to view at any time.

Being Misguided By Home Inspectors

Over the last fifteen plus years that we’ve been in business, there is one particular item we hear from new home owners quite often.  Why didn’t the home inspector notice the problem?  Many new home buyers purchase a home and also walk into thousands of dollars in repairs they never anticipated.  From water damage, to hidden mold issues to even homes that flood during rains, this is a very common occurrence.  So why didn’t the home inspector notice the issues before the sale of the property?  Most likely because they never saw it, or are totally unaware of what they’re doing.  We’ve come across many home inspection companies that are very highly trained and extremely experienced that give multi-paged, detailed documentation of everything in the home.  But we’ve also come across many home inspectors that are just there to either collect a check, or be in the back pocket of the real estate and/or mortgage lender, to insure the sale goes through.   Thousands of dollars in commission to both the real estate agent and underwriter are on the line, while hundreds of thousands of dollars are also on the line for the banks.  The home inspector sometimes has the fate of the sale on their report, and with that, many agencies hire the same inspectors to insure the reports come back clean, or with very few minor issues.  I’ve met some, and when I say some I mean a very small amount of home inspectors that have years of home building experience or even engineering degrees.  I’m not saying you need an engineering degree to become a reliable and trustworthy inspector, but the inspector should be a person with many years of home building, remodeling or developing experience which gives them the knowledge and know how to find the slightest problem which can cost many new home buyers thousands of unforeseen dollars.  But in today’s market, many, (not all), home inspectors are either failed contractors, persons looking for side money from their real job, or exterminators.  Why would an exterminator become a home inspector?  Because many real estate companies find it easier to call one person who can handle the home inspection and the termite certification, rather than calling two separate companies.  And with real estate being a business known for shelling out “Kick Backs” for a wide range of items, home inspectors are also guilty of giving these back door payments for the inspection job.  The answer to this problem is to find a very reliable agency that does a thorough home inspection.  The cheaper the company sometimes results in the quicker inspection, which in turn results in many unforeseen items.  A normal home inspection should take between two to four hours and should be very detailed.  By doing some investigation before hiring a home inspector, you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars in the long run.  Remember, it is one of the very few if only, businesses that make you sign a waiver prior to the inspection, which removes them from taking any responsibility from their negligence or wrong doing.  Hiring experienced and reputable home inspectors is a great solution in knowing exactly what your getting into before the same of your next home.
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