Mold Inspectors are everywhere you look. But finding a qualified and reputable mold inspector can be a challenging task with so many companies to choose from. Below is a guide for hiring a certified mold inspector: 

1. Experience

How many mold inspections has the company performed? An experienced mold inspector most likely will have performed several hundred mold inspections per year. That way you know the mold inspector has seen a wide variety of scenarios. Ask your mold inspector how many verifiable mold inspections have been performed in the Los Angeles area.

2. Credentials

There a several types of certifications and as many certifying organizations. The mold inspection company should carry Workers’ Compensation insurance and professional liability insurance. They should hold membership in good standing with at least one nationally recognized trade association for mold professionals. The certifying organization should also be nationally recognized with an online registry of certified professionals. In both cases, you can verify the mold inspection company’s trade association membership and the mold inspector’s certification. Not all certifications are created equal! Make sure the mold inspector’s certification is based on verifiable work experience and the certification is issued by an accredited educational organization.

3. Inspection Equipment

Every mold inspector should have the basics: a moisture meter, an air sampling pump, and a respirator. Several other tools should be at the inspector’s disposal including sampling media (swabs, air cassettes), flash light, gloves, knee pads, and a mirror. There are various types of each of these tools. Ideally, the mold inspector will have the latest technology available. There are other tools that are high tech such as a thermal imaging camera which is a tool designed to detect temperature variations typically associated with moisture.

4. References

With the abundance of review sites on the internet, it should be pretty easy to get an idea about the mold inspection company’s reputation. Any company that has been around for several years is bound to have a couple unsatisfied customers. But what is even more alarming are no reviews at all. It makes you wonder if the company has been around long enough (or is qualified enough) to be considered for the job at hand. With some due diligence on your part, you should be able to see a trend in the volume of reviews: a majority of good reviews means you probably have a reputable mold inspection company under consideration. Also, make sure the company actually responds to reviews. If a company ignores any review, it could mean a company lacks the appreciation for every customer served. A popular subscription based consumer review site is Angie’s List. Reviews are provided by real people that pay to be on the site. There is a mutual understanding among members that the reviews are only useful if they are truthful. A paid subscription-based consumer site means members have a vested interest in providing genuine reports because s/he will be depending on other reviews when making his/her hiring decision. Other popular review sites are Better Business Bureau, Google Maps and Yelp. 

Summary:

  • Verify a mold inspector’s experience and mold credentials
  • Inquire about the type of equipment that is used for mold inspections
  • Cross reference the mold inspection company by getting references from past customers that have posted reviews about their experience with the mold inspection company

Mold Inspection Costs

Here’s the lowdown on how much you should expect to pay for a mold inspection. But first, you need to know there are two types of mold inspectors:

  • Mold “testing only” and
  • mold testing and repair

Mold “Test Only”

In my opinion, mold inspection companies should only perform mold testing and not perform mold repair. It is considered a conflict of interest to do both because the test and repair company may exaggerate the problem in order to overcharge for a solution. Mold inspection costs for “test only” companies are paid at the time of the inspection.

The “test only” business model is preferred because consumers are less likely to be upsold on costly repairs. In essence, watch out for mold removal companies that pose as mold inspectors offering free inspections. I recommend hiring a mold “test only” company when you are trying to determine if you have a mold problem. Paying mold inspection costs up front will lessen the likelihood of overpaying for mold repairs.

Mold Test and Repair

For the purpose of being the first responder, several test and repair companies backload the cost of mold testing by offering low-cost or free mold inspections. Conventional wisdom holds that first responders will usually get the job. So, how do you think mold removal companies cover the mold inspection cost?  Naturally, they will find a mold “problem”.

Each visit costs companies $50 to $100 just to show up. Those costs include advertising, phone bills, payroll, fuel, insurance and utilities. If a mold removal company shows up to ten houses for “free” without getting a single job, they’re out nearly a thousand dollars. They simply couldn’t stay in business without finding a mold “problem.” And they wouldn’t be profitable unless a majority of the houses have a mold “problem.”  This is where you must be wary of exaggerated problems and overcharging for solutions.

How Much Should You Pay?

Once you know the difference between mold “test only” and mold test and repair, you have a better appreciation for the cost of mold testing. As stated in the mold test and repair paragraph, it costs $50-$100 just to show up. There is also the time factor associated with performing the mold inspection and providing a mold report.

All told, mold inspection costs by a reputable company range from $150 to $250. There are other mold costs as well, known as mold sampling. Mold testing is necessary for several reasons: mold identification, mold concentration, and indoor air quality. The going rate for mold sampling is $100 per sample. The inspection company pays an accredited laboratory to analyze the mold samples helpful in determining the extent of a mold problem and establishing a scope of work for mold repair. The total number of samples varies for each job as the mold inspector makes sampling recommendations based on the factors associated with the building and its occupants.

Summary

  • Mold inspection costs are real and should be expected for most consumers. It is rare that a customer will be told there is no problem with a free inspection when it costs the company $50-$100 just to show up.
  • Mold test and repair companies will show up for “free” but, be wary of exaggerated problems and overcharging for solutions.
  • Mold “test only” companies will charge to show up and charge for each sample required. They are a better option because there is no hidden agenda to sell you on a potentially unnecessary repair.
  • Be an informed consumer of mold services and hire a “test only”, certified mold inspector.

Jason Harris is with Same Day Mold Testing, Inc., assisting owners and property managers in the area of mold contamination. For questions about a mold concern, please contact (800) 609-4214.