What I'm Seeing Now

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What Should Buyers Do When Mold Appears On New Construction?

This problem has been like this for some time.  What should buyers do when mold appears on new construction?

The drywall is in the rooms and was to be installed in the next couple of days.  Nobody said anything to the buyers.

The builder did what they usually do - they called the buyers late one afternoon and said they needed a pre-drywall inspection the next day.  We're so sorry, we forgot that pesky drywall was scheduled for installation the next day and, gee, if you want a pre-drywall inspection we don't mind but, gosh, good golly, our schedule just took us over and you need an inspection tomorrow morning.  It was near my other inspection and I slipped them in early in the morning.

This GROWING GREEN GRUB was on every single truss rafter in the garage and main house.

The trusses had been strapped together, stored in the yard during many rain storms, and when the time arrived were lifted up and installed.

Some had growth that was worse than others, necessarily.

What's my job?  To observe and report.

I do not speak scientifically.
I do not give an analysis. 
I do not give a solution.
I do not tell them mold protocols.
I do not say how innocuous this stuff might be.
I do not say how dangerous this stuff might be.
I do not even say if this stuff is mold, fungus or microbial growth!

We have not done a mold test, and Virginia won't let me say there is anything other than "evidence of mold or microbial growth."  Fine.

I DO SAY THEY SHOULD HAVE AN INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS AND LEARN WHAT THE LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS MIGHT BE IF THIS STUFF IS COVERED WITH DRYWALL AND INSULATION.

There, the buyers are covered. They had seen this stuff before but did not know what to do.

They called their supervisor.  He did not answer, it went to voice mail and within two minutes someone from the main office called back.  It seems somebody did know about this stuff and maybe the supervisor was told not to say anything!

The office people told the buyers that the builder was going to "spray it all" before drywall installation.  What does that mean?  Nothing, it's an empty statement.

SO I REITERATED MY PREVIOUS STATEMENT THAT THEY WANT THEIR OWN ANALYSIS AND EXPLANATION OF WHAT TO DO FROM HERE AND WHAT CHEMICALS WOULD BE BEST IF THIS STUFF NEEDS TO BE MITIGATED.  SPRAYING IT WITH CLOROX WATER MIGHT NOT BE THE RIGHT SOLUTION, NO PUN INTENDED!  AND THAT THE SUGGESTED SOLUTION SHOULD BE IN WRITING AND THAT IT'S ACCOMPLISHMENT IS STATED IN WRITING.  IT MIGHT BE THAT DOING NOTHING IS FINE.  THAT IS NOT MY CALL.

My recommendation:  it is not my place to say that even though this stuff is in the garage or attic that it is not something a buyer should be concerned with.  I have no idea what affects these folks, their children, or future people who will live in the house.  I have no idea if this stuff will dry up and go away, or continue to grow and become a problem for them.  My clients are big kids and can decide for themselves what their comfort zone is.  They can act accordingly.  But it is clear that nobody was saying anything to them about this stuff.

The buyers called me last night.  It seems the drywall installation has been postponed a bit.  They are grateful.

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 46 commentsJay Markanich • June 13 2012 04:51AM

Comments

Good mroning, Jay.....that was a break for the buyers that you inspected..... the builder must have been having a fit!!!

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Good thing they saw the value in the pre drywall inspection. Now they can know for certain whether this "stuff" should be something to worry about.  There are so many buyers who are working directly with the builders who don't know the value of home inspections throughout the building process.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) almost 7 years ago

I don't know Barbara.  They buyers told me that they went into other houses and saw the same thing and wondered if it was normal!

What do you bet the builder will find a reason not to allow me back?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

They had heard from a friend Kathryn, and found me on line.  Fortunately I could fit them in - karma...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

I have seen this on rafters sitting and not getting installed fast enough. Then they will get "THIS STUFF" on them. Then the builder installs the rafters with "THIS STUFF" with no plans on doing anything about it.

Have a good day in Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 7 years ago

And not our problem unless we see it Clint!  Then, well, then we observe and report!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

In VA, we are fortunate to ONLY have to disclose MOLD that we can see so crawling under houses and looking for potential mold is NOT OUR JOB!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 7 years ago

Our motto exactly......test don't guess !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 7 years ago

You should not be required to crawl under houses Wallace!  If there's enough down there, though, it will permeate the air.  But that is still not proof.

S&D - good motto!  We can look at it and KNOW it is mold, but to remediate properly they determine exactly what works best and where.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Interesting.  IF spraying it is the solution I wonder why they would not have treated it before scheduling the pre-drywall inspection.  To see if the buyers / home inspectors would notice?  Would say it is OK?

Or if spraying it is not the solution to remove the mold prior to the drywall going up would it  have just hiding a defect? Or something that could grow into a defect?  

   

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 7 years ago

The importance of inspections. I am glad to see you say it is your job to only disclose and inform the client. So many inspectors delve into area beyond their scope of responsibility. It's like Realtors inadvertently practicing law

Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA) almost 7 years ago

In Prince William County call Jay Markanich who will refer you to a consultant who knows his stuff and can ,\make solid recommendations

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) almost 7 years ago

A builder in Charles County had framing material that was so permeated with mold, an entire block of (4) town homes had to be bulldozed. 

I represented a buyer of those homes and when we learned of the mold, the builder let them out of the contract QUICKLY. 

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Jay, Though I would mention it is there. Really is it doing anything up there. Mold only needs 24 to 72 hrs to grow in the right conditions. If this is all that I saw I would not be too worried but I would give them some advice to do some research. There is a lot of misinformation out there on this subject.

Here is a link a good friend shared with me-

http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/sampling.html

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay. Great blog, your the man...I'll be calling you soon, hopefully before end of next week:)

Posted by Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret, Associate Broker in Northern Virginia ( United Real Estate (703.216.5635) cheryltee47@gmail.com) almost 7 years ago

Gee my brother's father-law's neighbor's crazy uncle runs a sweatshop in a third world country where people comment on blogs about making money. 

Everyone hit "report a concern"  and earn your 10 points on comment #16.

Sorry Jay.  

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 7 years ago

This just shows lack of care by the builder. It is a poor reflection of the standards they are following. IF that stuff is visible after the house is constructed it will  follow ever seller from here on out. Hopefully they at least take care of it in a proper manner for the buyers.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) almost 7 years ago

Yikes.  This is a major concern and a good thing it was caught.  We had a family here in The Woodlands whose home became so mold infested due to the stucco being put on improperly that their daughter had to be life-flighted out due to an allergic reaction.  Very concerning for sure.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury) almost 7 years ago

I just finished writing an article about inspections and the need to "trust, but verify" when work has been agreed to be done prior to closing. This is another excellent example AND another great example of why NEW construction needs inspections just as much as resale homes. nice job!

Posted by Reba Haas, Team Reba, CDPE (Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Eastside www.TeamReba.com) almost 7 years ago

In central florida it is hard to find an inspector that is wiling to do phase inspections because of the games new home builders play with scheduling time when the inspector is not available.

 

Great blog!!

Eve in Orlando

Posted by Mike & Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 7 years ago

It was truly a very good thing that these buyers had you do a Home Inspection. This is ALL the more reason that everyone/every buyer, needs a Home Inspection.

Posted by David Burrows, No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate (Classic Realty) almost 7 years ago

Jay, I'm surprised this hasn't happen a lot more in our area where we have projects that we're uncovered left exposed to the elements for months before the banks took the properties back and hired someone to complete them. This is really a great conversation. 

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) almost 7 years ago

Jay -- Interesting that there was so little time to get this inspection done.  Now what road blocks will they put in your way next time?  And if the buyer wants you to inspect and the builder refuses to allow you in, does that constitute basis for voiding deal?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 7 years ago

Professor Jay; another great class on "stuff".  Thank you.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) almost 7 years ago

Jay, while I comment on staining like this that I see (in the spirit of document, document, document), if I made a big deal out of it in homes in the NW, 99% of homes would be in trouble.  The reality is that this kind of staining and/or minor fungal growth is so common as to actually be "normal."  Since all surfaces contain mold spores the necessary conditions for mold to grow or come back to life are just a rise in humidity away (wood actually has to be quite wet to support mold growth).  A simple moisture reading of the wood would reveal whether it is "currently" any kind of issue.  There is so much disinformation and misinformation out there about mold that I am more than happy to give my "opinion" about it which is as valid as the one week certifided mold guy's opinions are.  It is just information.  Give it to the buyers and let them decide what they want done about it.  The reference that Don left in his comment is an excellent, non-hysterical view of the "issue."

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Run away?  just kidding.  It's amazing what builders will try to get away with, even today.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) almost 7 years ago

I'm with Don and Charles with this one. In an attic location it should be outside the home's conditioned air zone. If air bleeds into the home from there, well that is an issue.

Mold occurs naturally outdoors. Building materials of all kinds are exposed to it in lumber yards and warehouses. How wet it is when it is installed 'in situ' through it's service life, that is the critical criteria.

As your inspector I will be informing you about it and just like 'wet basements' it's the buyers tolerance that counts.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 7 years ago

Maureen - they may have been hoping that an inspection would not happen.  But still, you are right, they had ample opportunity to eradicate it as a problem.

Doug - I don't go beyond my scope.  I am to observe and report. 

Thank you Karen.  I hope that goes in Loudoun and Fairfax too!  Oh, and Culpeper, Faucquier, Arlington, Stafford ... well, you get it!

Wow, Lenn, that's a first for me!  I had a group of townhouses shut down by the County for repairs after I found a structural issue, but they weren't bulldozed!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I hear you Don, I really do.  And love the link!  The buyers were hyped up about this before I came and again, my job is to refer them to professional advice.  Those chips can fall as they will.  (Charlie and I had a nice conversation about what you are saying just this afternoon.  We are both in line.)  By the way, I didn't count, but if there are 40 trusses on that house (main house and garage) at least 38 of them had this growth.  Some of them were nearly covered, and that freaked the buyers out.  Best to have it evaluated, by all means.

Thanks for the call today Cheryl!  Sorry, but I was in inspections all day, each time you called!  See you Wednesday, on Tortoise Place...

Great Maureen, thanks.  You cost me the opportunity for my 10 points!   ;>)

Rob - it sounds like they are willing to.  I still think they need an independent evaluation by a pro, NOT the builder.

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Hello Jay,

Your being available (lucky buyer) on short notice to see "this stuff" was not what the builder was expecting - SURPRISE!  Such a shame that this could be an innocuous problem, but for the builder to try to play a game around it was just wrong.  Doesn't leave a great feeling of confidence in what else might be going on - good thing you are on the job!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) almost 7 years ago

Paula - some people do not react to any molds, some to just a little bit.  We are all different.  But since I don't know anything about the folks who will be living here, I recommended an evaluation.  It might very well be that this stuff is benign to everyone in the family!  But I don't know.

Reba - thanks.  I highly recommend inspections on new construction.  Pre-drywall is the only time we can really see the house in a skeletal state.

Thanks Eve.  The builders all have their tricks that they employ around here.  When I tell the buyers six weeks in advance they don't believe me!  And then it happens...

Thanks David.  I am in firm agreement with all that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Adrian - maybe it does and is very common there.  Remember though, there are two sides to this mold issue.

Steven - I don't know if it would void the deal.  It is there property and they can bar me if they want.  But still, they realize I am being a circumspect person.

Ken - lots of stuff going on there too!  Virtually every rafter was infested.

I agree Charlie, but as much as is present here, on virtually every rafter, is not common around here.  The people were freaked so I just sent them on to get an evaluation. 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Justin - based on their quick response to a voicemail, I think the builder will be taking care of this!

Robert - your last statement is the key to this whole thing.  I can't judge their tolerances, either emotionally or allergenically.  But I am with Don's link too!  However, observe and report is all I can do.  Referring this for further evaluation is the end of the line for me, and my clients are covered.

Lisa - pre-drywall inspections can happen virtually any time.  We did this really early in the morning.  That day my first inspection was not until 10am and this house was right along the road I use to get to that area!  This stuff might very well be innocuous, but you are right, it was not handled proactively and the buyers sensed that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay, Totally understand where you are coming from. Mr Buell and I talk about this from time to time. What really bugs me on some of this is that they will come in and do their mold thing yet still not correct the cause. Really backwards thinking to me, but hey what do I know ;)

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Don - sure, it is a bit of CYA here, but I do in fact want my clients taken care of, and they take precedence.  We really don't know what, if anything, this might do to them or their kids, but I think it's worth their having someone by to evaluate.  In the end I want to hear that all is well, even if that means nothing was done!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

It seems like there is an epidemic of new construction that has more mold than usual.  I remember the first time I saw lumber that had just arrived from the lumberyard, with black mold (at least that is what it looked like).  It was when I did a kitchen remodel a few years back.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 7 years ago

Could very well have been Myrl.  What did they do about it?  If it was installed, have you experienced anything because of it?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I'm glad i'm not an inspector. That's why it's imperative to get an inspection.I counsel my buyer's on this very same thing.

Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic (www.mrbrownsellsgr.com) almost 7 years ago

Well good morning Mr. Feature post.  How many does that make you now?  You keep that up and you'll need to bind them up and sell it enjoy the day

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 7 years ago

Thanks Robert, but we just look around and see what we can see!  It's only what, about a thousand things on every house?  How hard can that be?     ;>)

James - contact Kerrie and see if I can sell featured posts. 

Inquiring minds want to know!  I think things that everyone can benefit from are likely to be featured.  That's probably why you see so many home inspector posts featured.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

The buyers are freaked because of all the bad information that is so readily available. There ar so many "mold experts" out there stirring up the fear, it's no wonder your clients had such a reaction. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 7 years ago

I hear you Jim!  But I am in the position of suggesting a course of action.  This growth was virtually everywhere and the way the builder responded (quickly to a voice mail) indicated they were aware and ready to do something.  I was between a client and a bunch of roof trusses!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay, I always enjoy your reports.  So much to share, I always learn something, and I like that .  Stay informative!  Thanks!

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) almost 7 years ago

Thanks Gary, and gee, I intend to!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Spray it all? Oh, great!  That should cover it :)  No further questions.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

Hear, hear Reubs.  O here, here.

Either applies...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

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