I’d have to see the contract to comment on this.
I do not do mold inspections for this reason. This is stated in several areas of my agreement, reports, and maintenance tip sheets. There are no federal, state, county, city mold standards. Mold is everywhere. All people can be alergic to mold at some degree. Even if you see mold in a home, the levels can be higher outside than inside. Mold can be in sheets, pillows, carpet, etc. To do a proper mold test can be invasive and cost thousands. And, the results could affect the home buyer, but no one else. People are all different. Mold levels/kinds are different. Too much litigation on this subject.
So why would you not do a mold inspection? I understand excluding it from a home inspection, but you need to have confidence in yourself. You are leaving a lot of money on the table by not doing mold inspections/tests.
Swabs, IMO, do not tell the whole story. Mold testing should be done with several people/testers in the home at the same time, and courts here are demanding to test the outside air while you are at it to compare the inside from the outside. If you are by yourself, who else is there to back you up? Cutting walls, lifting carpet is not for a single inspector. Contract it out.
I do four samples, three air,(one outside and two inside) and a tape lift of an area of concern as my standard test, plus a non-invasive inspection of the entire home for water intrusion as my standard job. I have never been challenged, nor has my pricing ever been questioned. I am now paying the bills with mold, commercial and other ancillaries, since HI’s are dead for now.
I hear ya, but I have been sued twice for mold, even when I have disclaimed it on my reports. One was dropped, still cost me $3k in fees, the other was settled two days before trial. That one cost me $8K.
Be prepared. It will happen.
IAS was presented with a case. The issue was an inspector who performed a mold test, and failed to properly report the results (alleged).
The inspector took two indooe samples and one outdoor sample. The first thing I asked was how he decided which two rooms to take his samples from. I received no defensable answer, IMO.
The second issue was that his report indicated one species of mpold had higher levels indoors than outdoors. The lab had a definition of this mold, which was characterized by them as dangerous. Yet, the report summary indicated that levels were normal inside the dwelling.
Complicating the issue was another mold tester and remediator who performed their own testing, and blame the inspector for negligence.
So, there is validity to an inspector being fearful or performing a mold test. Some firms are becoming cannibalistic, going after inspectors as a means of promoting themselves and making some money. We can now add them to the list of “professionals” who have painted a target on the lowly inspector. Had it happen to me two years ago.
I think it is certain that nothing will keep you from getting sued.
Just like an HI, report what you see and don’t make stuff up, stick to the facts and you should be ok. That isn’t fool proof though. If every job you do, you are focused on worries about getting sued, maybe this isn’t the right business to be in. You will probably force an error with that going through your mind throughout the inspection.
It does not take much to see where a second mold tester / sampler could blame the first inspector. There is an old saying, “The first liar doesn’t stand a chance.” That usually refers to a bunch of old boys telling fishing, hunting stories and tales of sexual conquests, but it is every bit as applicable when you deal with trade industries as an inspector. I can not count the number of times I have heard inspectors tell of some tradesman telling their customer that their home inspector should have found this or that. That assumes the tradesman even knows what a home inspection entails or what it does or does not cover. The inspector’s credibility and professionalism is immediately called into question. It stands to reason the second inspector makes himself look smarter and better by the “savior” attitude (we see it a lot in here) plus it puts them in a position later of being the expert witness if something ends up going to trial.
Orville Rettenbacher (sp) said “Do one thing, do it well or better than anyone else and you would be successful.” The inspector world is changing rapidly and some are offering to do anything and everything to make a dollar, often with little or no quality training in the field. I saw one inspector at the convention years ago that would even come out and take care of any errant critters (that is snakes, alligators, raccoons and such for the city boys) the homeowners might find invading their properties. Making money is a great thing, but if you make 8 thousand dollars doing some ancillary inspections and have to work hard for it (not counting of course the costs to do them) but then have to turn around and spend ten thousand defending yourself against a lawsuit or to settle out of court, you are NOT making money. You are now two thousand into the negative column plus expenses. Not a great business model.
I am always curious about the mold lawsuits as to when did the mold actually begin to appear. You can clean up mold and within 36 hours it can be right back. This is one very big reason we do not do ANY environmental testing or inspections but refer them to people who do ONE thing, and they do it well. When we stopped being “inspectors” and became Larry, Daryl and Daryl “Anything for a Buck Industries”, and became “testers” I think that is when the lines got blurred and now the public perception is the “home inspector” is responsible for anything and everything that goes wrong now and in the future. When you think about it that way, that is a lot of responsibility for a few hundred dollars.
When someone asks me about “mold” I respond to them that “There is mold in your house.”
Waiting for me to continue with their wide-eyed stare, I further explain “There is mold in your shower, in your refrigerator, in your shoes, on your lawn and in every cubic foot of air space contained in your home. It is a part of the planet Earth that we cannot escape.”
I then explain the conditions that are conducive to mold (which, in these parts, are also conducive to termites). They learn that spores, like termites, are looking for the right conditions to eat and to grow. These conditions might not exist, today…but could develop with a new leak in the gutter that sends water behind the siding the very next time it rains.
If you are going to maintain a home on this planet, you will be living inside of a giant sandwich that will eventually…hopefully after you sell it to the next person … be dined on by spores and termites. Prudent homeowners will find and treat to remove these pests BEFORE structural damage occurs.
I can tell you that, today, I found no mold, termites or conditions conducive to their existence but if I came back in a week, I might find something then.
“As a homeowner, are you prepared to invest the time and money into maintaining this house so that it is not destroyed by the spores and termites that surround it?”
If not, they need to continue to rent.
You cannot sue the federal government, so attorneys will be looking at mother nature instead. The media feeds on the false, and scares people. They are no help. Molds are everywhere. Do you test everywhere?
Sounds pretty similar to the same presentation / speech I give.
James, I’m curious to know how you decide where to take the air samples? I would assume one would be the basement (if a basement exists). Where else, and what two locations if a basement does not exist?
My decisions come from here.
Good line of defense. It sets the tone.
I’m with Levy on this one. I like risk because it pays more than the cost of managing it.
I use the iso and iicrc s500 and s520. These three have been backed up in court.