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Saving Money On Mold Remediation

Dear Phyllis,
My godson made an offer on a townhome and was so excited to be the winning bidder. He opened escrow and did his inspections; there were several problems that the seller agreed to fix but not everything that was requested. When the termite inspector came, he recommended having a mold inspection because of an area behind the washing machine. My son hired a mold inspector and they found mold. The mold inspector told us it could be as much as $20,000 to repair. Because my godson’s interest rate was expiring there wasn’t time to do the remediation. So he requested that the seller credit him the $20,000. The seller refused and canceled escrow. My godson is now out of pocket for the appraisal and two inspections. We know a neighbor in the building and learned that the seller had his/her termite company complete the remediation. This townhome was retested, and no mold was found. I am curious if it was okay to have the remediation done by a termite company instead of a mold company?

Dear Janet,
Because of the frightening nature of mold, some mold companies take advantage of the consumer. The most common area where you might find mold is the mold that develops in the grout between ceramic tiles. A simple form of remediation happens each time you spray that mold with a bleach-based cleaner. More toxic mold happens elsewhere. There are a variety of types of mold and not all produce health-threatening mycotoxins. Not everyone is affected by mold, but those who are affected can be severely affected.

I am not a mold inspector and you don’t give a lot of details. First, the cause of the mold must be addressed or it will return. Likely a good plumber should be able to do that.

According to the EPA’s website: “Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself…”

Assuming the mold is only in a small area behind the washing machine, it could simply be a matter of someone wearing protective gear and removing the damaged drywall and then having a mold company retest and provide mold clearance.

Assuming there is no further evidence of mold, the drywall could then be replaced. Of course, your godson’s inspections would need to be disclosed to the new buyer. If the mold is not extensive, I see no reason the termite company could not do the work.