The House Detective: by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector
Dear Barry: We’re about to buy a six-year-old home that originally had a mold problem. Fortunately, the builder removed all of the affected materials from the building. If we buy this home, are we required to disclose the initial mold issue to our home inspector, or should we wait to see if he notices any evidence of mold? Jack
Dear Lars: What possible advantage could there be in withholding information that would assist your home inspector in evaluating the property you are buying? The inspector is your hired consultant; there for your exclusive benefit; to provide you with essential decision-making data. Any information or other assistance you can provide toward full evaluation of the property is to your advantage. If the property has a history of mold, let your inspector know about it. That way, pertinent moisture conditions and related defects can be carefully considered and evaluated during the inspection.
Testing your inspector, rather than lending your trust and assistance can have costly consequences. Here’s a true story that illustrates the point: The buyers of a home had been told the property was located within a flood plane, but they never mentioned this to their home inspector. The inspector observed no evidence of potential flooding and therefore made no disclosure of it in his report. The buyers therefore dismissed the issue of possible flooding and proceeded with the purchase. After the close of escrow, the first heavy rains caused ground water to flood the interior of their home. They blamed the home inspector for this “surprise” and filed a lawsuit for nondisclosure, even though they had withheld prior knowledge of flood potential on the day of the inspection.
If you alert your home inspector to the history of mold infection, then potential moisture sources such as plumbing leaks, roof leaks, and ground drainage problems can be given particular attention during the inspection. By withholding that disclosure, there is greater likelihood that a significant issue could be missed.
Be aware also that home inspectors do not make determinations regarding the presence of mold. Since the property has a mold history, you would be prudent to hire a mold expert to affirm that there is no residual mold infection in the building.