Are you thinking about buying a home or under contract to purchase one? In a typical home purchase agreement there is a contingency for the home buyer to perform any and all inspections of their choosing. In addition to a standard home inspection you should have your new home tested for mold.
There are thousands of different mold types. Some of them are toxic and can make you very sick while others are either harmless of even helpful. Some of the more common types of harmful molds include: penicillium, cladosporium, alternaria, memnoniella, mucor, stachybotrys (also known as black mold).
You might think that you can detect mold just by looking around for obvious signs but that is not fool proof. During your general home inspection have your inspector perform a mold test. They generally run around $250. The inspector will pull air samples from outside and inside the home. They will send the air samples to a lab that will compare the mold levels in the different air samples. They theory is that there should be more mold outside the home than inside. If there is higher level of mold inside the home then you might have a problem.
I just recently had an experience with mold. I sell homes in Sarasota, Florida where mold is very common. However, the home that my buyer purchase showed absolutely no signs of mold and had no odors whatsoever. Sometimes, you enter a mold filled home and from the awful stench it is obvious that a problem exists without having to go through an inspection.
Fortunately, my buyer was smart and paid the $250 for the test. Surprisingly, the mold test came back with an elevated level of penicillium. You would not know it by looking at this home. The house was extremely clean and very well maintained. There was no odor, no stains, no obvious signs of active or old leaks, no humidity or any other signs of potential problems.
Apparently, there was a slight leak through some french doors in the office. The leak was very small and had been repaired. Water leaked in under the wood floors where mold grew. The levels were elevated but were not that high when compared to the outside levels.
The home went through a very small and inexpensive mold remediation. The sellers ended up paying for the repairs prior to the closing. If the mold problem was found after the home closed it would have been difficult to get the sellers to pay for the repairs. This is why you want to have a test done prior to closing on your home. Some people do not want to spring for the cost of the mold test but it is a small investment that can save you a fortune. If left un-repaired and the mold grows the remediation costs could get into the thousands. So, if you are planning on buying a home make sure you make the small investment of a mold test.