Break out of the mould

Posted: November 9, 2011 in Buyers, General Information
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Home buyers often have concerns about mould, but are their fears justified?

Although thousands of types of mould exist, only a few are actually harmful to people. Toxic varieties, such as moulds from the genus Stachybotrys, can produce chemicals linked to various health problems including sinus infections, asthma and certain respiratory infections. However, mould must generally be present in large quantities to have a noticeable effect on most people.

Mould eats wood cellulose and can potentially affect the structural integrity of wood. Mould is caused by water damage or excessive humidity, poor ventilation systems, wet construction materials or poor construction or design. Mould travels on air currents and is all around us, and so it is difficult to find a house that is completely mould-free.

The smell is usually the first red flag which can often be detected by the astute Realtor, even through fresh paint, plug-ins and pot-pourri cover ups.

If moisture damage has built up in the basement over the years, the smell will reveal it right away, regardless of how nice it looks. Don’t let someone convince you that it’s not a big deal, because it can be. Until someone owns the home and can rip the walls down, they won’t know the severity of the problem. Sellers might need to spend some money if there’s mould in their home. It can’t just be painted over. It may be minor issue involving a lack of circulation in the basement or it could be a serious case of black mould coming through the drywall or baseboard, which probably needs to be ripped out. You can’t just wipe it off. Either, way the issue causing the mould must be solved and the area has to dry out.

Mould issues can usually be resolved. The moisture or water source need to be located and stopped, and then the mould needs to be removed. If the problem turns out to be widespread and remediation is necessary, it’s important to make sure that the entire problem area is corrected, otherwise the mould infestation could return.

A proper home inspection may uncover signs of mould or structural deficiency issues, although there is no guarantee that it will. Be sure to inspect moisture-prone areas such as basements, bathrooms and kitchen cupboards. Mould behind a wall will not be visible to you or a home inspector but signs of mould would include discolouration on finishes, staining, spotty patterns revealing visible mould growth and the musty smells of course.
The obligation of the real estate professionals to discover and disclose material facts related to the purchase or sale of a home is part of their Code of Ethics.

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