The mold inspection and remediation process is a balancing act between ensuring occupant safety and preserving property value for an owner.
The mold inspection company you choose should offer a value proposition that stands apart from others. The credentials should include a mold certification, mold industry work experience, meaningful inspection reports, and competitive pricing.
Think of hiring a mold inspector like hiring a doctor to diagnosis a condition. Once a diagnosis has been established, then the proper course of action can be taken to solve the problem. But the proper investigation is necessary to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Depending on the severity of the condition, the prescription could be something simple like taking over-the-counter medication. Or, it could be a severe problem requiring surgical removal. That would involve a separate surgeon who specializes in that procedure.
Let’s extend this medical analogy to the mold industry. Mold inspectors serve in the capacity of a consultant, not a contractor. If there is a mold concern, they will conduct an investigation and offer a recommendation (prescription) to cure the diagnosis (condition). There are varying degrees of a “problem” when it comes to mold, just as it is with medicine. In one example, it could be surface contamination – often thought of as mildew – that can be handled with sanding down the surface. Reapplying mold resistant primer and paint will solve that problem – a mild prescription of sorts.
Think of an overcrowded bedroom where fungal growth is discovered behind a piece of furniture. That is often due to occupant behavior and can be remedied with superficial cleaning and behavior modification. If misdiagnosed however; the recommendation might be to remove the wall altogether. This often happens when mold removal companies are hired to diagnose mold problems because they profit more from removing walls instead of letting a regular maintenance crew handle the cleaning or repair.
Ask Four Questions
To avoid a conflict of interest, the mold inspection company should strictly be in the business of inspecting, sampling/testing, and consulting. That way the company has no vested interest in benefiting from a repair such as mold remediation. The point is, the most overlooked aspect of the mold industry: conflict of interest. Consumer education is lacking in this regard because the contractors strike big paydays by demolishing rooms that could have been cleaned instead. They also have bigger advertising budgets and gear their messaging toward removal to stay in business.
Property owners and managers dealing with a mold situation need four questions answered:
- Do I have a mold problem?
- If yes, how do I solve it?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
The mold inspection company will address the first two questions, and the remediation company will address the third and fourth questions.
Mold Inspection Report
The mold inspection report should be a two-part document: lab results and inspection report. If sampling has been performed, those samples should be sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. The results of the lab’s analysis will be interpreted by the inspector, who will then provide a comprehensive report of the property condition, lab results, and meaningful recommendations for the next course of action.
The mold inspection report should be easy to understand when you read it and not a bunch of legalese that is confusing and unhelpful. Some inspectors only provide lab results without any additional documentation. However, an inspector serving as consultant should be able to produce a document to reflect their inspection process. Beware of lengthy reports with a lot of “mumbo jumbo” designed to protect the inspection company instead of educate the customer.
It is acceptable for an inspection company to refer remediation companies; however, an objective inspector should be able to refer more than one remediation company. A remediation company should be a licensed and insured contractor because they will be destroying portions of the property in order to repair it. This can be an expensive project so you want to have legal recourse in the event something goes wrong!
Now, to the issue of a legitimate mold problem. The basics of mold remediation should include area containment, removal of moldy materials, sanitization of remaining construction materials, air cleaning to remove airborne mold spores, and disposal. Note: The source of water seepage may need to be handled separately by a building contractor, plumber or roofing contractor.
Once mold remediation has been completed, a post-remediation verification (PRV) a.k.a. “Clearance” inspection should be conducted prior to rebuilding the affected area. It is prudent to use the same inspection company before and after mold remediation to ensure consistency with the inspection protocol and sampling methodology. PRV will ensure the mold problem has been handled properly in accordance with industry standards.
Whenever a mold problem has been identified, it needs to be resolved to ensure occupant safety and to preserve property value. A mold inspection is the diagnostic phase of the process, and mold remediation is a cure for the problem. It is in the best interest of owners and occupants to work collaboratively to have the problem solved as soon as possible, and to prevent further risk to persons and property. The key to mold control is moisture control.
Now you have been informed about how to make better hiring decisions for a mold inspector: you know about the “diagnosis” and the “cure”. This will empower you to work in the best interest of your landlord clients and ensure the best value while preserving their assets!
The above article was produced by Same Day Mold Testing, Inc. (SDMT), which offers fast, affordable results for landlords and property managers concerned about the indoor environment of their buildings. SDMT has over 15 years of mold experience and has performed thousands of mold inspections for commercial and residential customers. For more information about services and competitive pricing, visit www.SameDayMoldTesting.com. You can even schedule appointments online 24/7! If you have questions about this article, send an email to [email protected] If you suspect a mold problem or have a tenant concern, contact our office to discuss the matter at (800) 609-4214.