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Thread: Attic Mold?

  1. #1
    ROBERT J MOUNTAIN's Avatar
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    Default Attic Mold?

    This a 1960's home. There was plenty of ventiation in the attic, however, a majority of the attic had this on it? I just wanted to know if this a type of mold?

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I'm from Alaska, but it looks like mildew growth that we see up here often. The moisture in the wood itself causes the growth and over time the wood dries out and the mildew is left. Framing lumber sitting out all summer can soak up added moisture. Although we usually see this on newer homes, I'm not sure if the mildew would last 40 years on the surface, I guess it's possible. Any new penetrations in the attic? A new bath fan perhaps? Dave


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    We get it here in Oregon a lot... usually some of the following will be true;

    Bath fans vented into the attic rather than out
    Soffit vents are blocked, usually by updated amounts of insulation
    Worse on the north side

    Your picture is very minor compared to what I'm used to seeing but really any is worth mentioning to protect yourself.

    Here's a picture of a house I was in this week... this was fairly bad but I've seen a lot worse.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    What is the recommended treatment for this?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    None.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    How would you write it up in a report?


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT J MOUNTAIN View Post
    What is the recommended treatment for this?

    Logical World - Cut down on sources of moisture, increase ventilation, when the roof is replaced assess the plywood for damage and replace as needed.

    World we live in with blood sucking attorneys trying take food off our table - Same first two + further evaluation from a mold remediation specialist. Super extreme cases the mold guys will call for total removal, mid-range they'll call for sanding, minor they'll just call for bleach washing.

    There was an instance I was involved in that defied all logic... House was about 15 years old. The 3-tab roof was totally shot and needed to be replaced. The soffit vents had been completely cut-off since day 1 and the bath fans had fallen many years before and were venting 6 people's showers worth of steam into the attic each day.

    Now, any logical person would just tear off the roof, re-deck the roof, hook-up the bath fans, unblock the soffit vents and live happily ever after, right? Nope, the mold people scared this poor guy into sinking 6K into remediation which included sanding, triple bagging and properly disposing of the shavings. The entire roof and decking could have been done for less than that. Problem is nobody (myself, real estate agents, sellers, etc) is going to tell someone to go against what the mold people say. So, now the guy is left with a 15 year old roof with ultra thin sheathing and an empty wallet.

    It's like when someone asks me about lead paint or asbestos.... do they really expect me to tell them not to worry about it. I can just hear it now as I'm sitting on the stand.... "Let me get this straight, you told my clients not to worry about the lead paint that eventually poisened their 4 children?"

    Sorry to be so longwinded... I hope somewhere in there I helped out with your question.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Mold is the hot button for people and I would be hesitate to ignore it. When the media reports on a mold story they pick a doozy, worst case situation and this is what people remember when you say mold. If you suspect mold in a large area recommend a qualified indoor environmentalist come in and determine course of action, this is not for a home inspector to specify.

    In essence, it seems necessary for us to over-react a bit because that's what clients and their attorneys do with this issue. Perhaps when the concern for mold dies down to more reasonable levels we can all get on with life.

    Eric Barker, ACI
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Give the customer the information from an unbiased source and let them make the call.
    I like to quote and provide the EPA document on the subject.

    Is sampling for mold
    needed?
    In most cases, if visible
    mold growth is present, sampling
    is unnecessary.
    Since no EPA or
    other federal limits have been set
    for mold or mold spores, sampling
    cannot be used to check a
    building’s compliance with federal
    mold standards. Surface sampling
    may be useful to determine if an
    area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling
    for mold should be conducted by professionals who have
    specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols,
    sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample
    analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by
    the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the
    American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
    (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.
    http://www.epa.gov/mold/pdfs/moldguide.pdf

    Keep in mind, testing and remidiation are two different animals.



    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Until it is sampled & lab analyzed it is "a mold like substance" CYA.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    Until it is sampled & lab analyzed it is "a mold like substance" CYA.
    I can't remember the names of the involved but at a cont. ed conference the exact subject of saying 'mold like' vs 'mold' came up and to a jury in a large case there was no difference. Basically, saying the 'm' word, no matter how you say it, is enough to get you in trouble.

    I call it a 'discoloration' for lack of a better term. There's really no perfect answer.... until we can fire up the time machine and go back and 'un-say' or 'un-write' what turns out to get us in trouble.

    I think like most things in this biz, the chances are remote but it does happen to someone eventually.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Call it what it is! It is Mold or a fungal growth. To call it anything else would be soft selling the client on what you really found. You know it is mold so call it as such.

    Next! Why in the world do you want to test it and find out what type of mold it is? What will this tell you as the home inspector and then what is it going to tell your client? It will tell them what you already know; they have mold on the wood in the attic. Give them the EPA information and let them decide what needs to be done. Unless you have training in remediation and can write an abatement plan that a contractor can use to clean up the mold then you need to say nothing more to your client.

    Mold needs moisture to survive and thrive. So we know that the attic most likely has had high moisture in it at some time. Has that problem been corrected? Spend you time and energy on finding out the cause of the moisture not trying to sell mold testing! Sorry, selling mold testing is a Hot Button for me.

    Please tell me how you are going to get into trouble by saying that you found Mold? I do not know of any home inspector in the country who has been sued for saying they he/she found mold. Does anyone have a case that they can cite that shows this? Think about who is purporting this information! It is being done by the testing labs, like the infamous Pro-Lab.

    If you are not sure that it was mold, then say that you found what looks like Mold or a fungus growth but that you are not sure. Then stop writing or saying anything. Let your client decide what the next step is.

    I must say that any home inspector who can't tell if he/she found mold needs to be working back at Burger King or wherever they were before they had their business cards printed up. It is not Rocket Science!

    Off Soap Box and a charter member of DDMG

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 12-09-2007 at 09:03 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I second Scott's post. Well said.

    Would a home inspector say 'asphalt-like material on roof'? No, of course not. They would say 'asphalt composition shingles', now, whether or not those shingles are 'fiberglass mat' or 'organic felt mat' - that's a different question.

    It's "mold", but as to 'what kind of mold' - that's a different question.

    Also a charter member of the DDM group.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I think that the concern arises when a H.I.'s contract disclaims mold then the report comments on mold's presence. Certainly it presents a conflict in the inspector's approach and monkeys up our jobs.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Scott, very well said!


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    I think that the concern arises when a H.I.'s contract disclaims mold then the report comments on mold's presence. Certainly it presents a conflict in the inspector's approach and monkeys up our jobs.

    No difference than disclaiming you don't do structural engineering on the structure and then commenting on trusses, rafters, foundation walls, etc.

    Or (to reverse the scenario) to call the home inspection and report "comprehensive" then disclaim everything that you don't do and that is not "visible" because it is now a "visual" inspection ... "visual inspection" does not equal "comprehensive inspection".

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Robert asked:
    "What is the recommended treatment for this?"


    Detect- Describe-Report. As Scott said, tell the client what you found/ saw during your inspection. I would not provide advice on any recommendations for treatment.

    Scott hit the nail on the head by advising that you concentrate on the source of moisture/leak/ condensation/ etc...-- that's the bigger issue.

    Richard


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Jerry,

    I gotta agree with you. Where is the line drawn? We seem to be constantly exposed to the "dangers" of the courtroom through cont. ed. seminars and taught how to avoid such encounters. And as I said before, it makes for a more difficult job.

    I get to the point where I want to say the hell with some instilled fear and just want to do my job as best as I can without worrying about some (imposed?) liability hanging over me. I don't have an answer for the issue and I don't see it going away.

    Eric Barker, ACI
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Eric,

    To me, it the same as saying we (HIs) do not do 'safety inspections' then write up unsafe items, or, saying we do not do 'code inspections' then write up code items.

    Heck, we might was well say 'This non-inspection is $xxx, please write the check and I will do as agreed in the contract - I will not look at anything ... Thank you and Have a nice day.'



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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I have spoken with some Environmental companies and they all said the same thing, "Why bother testing for mold? Decide if you want it cleaned up, but deal with the real problem of moisture." It's the same thing for us reporting on damage to the home from moisture. We don't mention that the structural damage "appears to be damage, suggest further testing". We tell people (depending on the situation) they have water leaking into the house causing damage to the structure.
    I also remind my people that mold is everywhere. It's reported on the news along with pollen counts.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    You will see this all the time because of the changes in the level of insulation in houses over the ages. If the house had 6 inches of insulation and only gable end vents, chances are there was just the right amount of moisture through condensation to grow mold. Increase the insulation and add soffit vents and a ridge vent and voila' problem solved. The stains are there but the problem is resolved.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I too disclaim mold in my inspection agreement. I'm not mold certified, so when I see mold, my report states that I found "a substance with the characteristics of mold".


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Fonos View Post
    so when I see mold, my report states that I found "a substance with the characteristics of mold".

    Okay, I'm game ... what "characteristics of mold" are you referring to?

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Fonos View Post
    I too disclaim mold in my inspection agreement. I'm not mold certified, so when I see mold, my report states that I found "a substance with the characteristics of mold".
    Call it what it is! If you know what the "characteristics" of mold are then you know what mold is! You will not get in trouble by calling mold, mold!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Stating that you are not inspecting for Mold means you are not testing or doing air samples, but if there is visual evidence of Mold and you do not report on it because "your not inspecting for Mold" your law suit is coming. There may be no cases against an Inspector for using the word "Mold" word but there are cases where it was visually evident and not reported. In this case your SOP or contract will not protect you no matter how many exclusions you write in.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Eric,

    I find these two sources useful, pretty hard to hurt ourselves by directing clients to the IDPH site:

    Indoor Environmental Quality
    Common Questions and Answers About Indoor Mold

    A few excerpts:

    "Testing cannot determine whether health effects will occur. Mold is normally found outdoors and counts fluctuate from day to day depending on the season. Due to the uncertainties associated with testing for molds, the Illinois Department of Public Health does not recommend it in most cases."
    ----------
    "IDPH does not license individuals to perform mold testing or cleanup. Moreover, no other state or federal agency currently licenses individuals to perform these activities."
    ---------
    "You can find professionals who perform mold cleanup by looking under “Fire and Water Damage Restoration” in the Yellow Pages of a telephone book. You also may search for professionals on the Internet. The Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (Restoration Industry Association-- Welcome) allow consumers to perform a search for their members online. The results of a typical search will include names of professionals, geographic location, and a telephone number."
    ----------
    "(These) guidelines for cleaning smaller areas of mold growth include the following practices... [useful advice on cleanup of small areas].
    ---------

    FWIW in my experience industrial hygienists are much less alarmist than "mold remediation companies" when it comes to what is required, and compared to "mold remediation companies" have less inherent conflict of interest when diagnosing problems and porpoising solutions. On this basis I believe it is reasonable and prudent to suggest clients consult them in cases where remediation is likely to be a substantial expense.

    Not being a microbiologist or IH, I am only qualified to observe and report the "possible past or present growth of biological material".

    To date my clients have had no problem understanding what that means, or with my reticence to say more.

    Michael Thomas
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    In the Pacific NW with our high humidity levels I see attic mold all the time. It freaks some folks out particularly those from Texas and California. Molds gotten a lot of PR there.

    Solutions? Once the cause is resolved, some clients want the colonies removed. One local company will blast the wood with baking soda and clean the mold out. Baking soda is inert so no nasty chemicals to deal with. It is messy and they heavily ventilate the attic while blasting. The wood does look like brand new. I have heard of companies using dry ice but don't have any local companies that do that.

    I always recommend removal because when my buyers go to sell the next inspector will be unable to determine whether the mold colonies are active or dead. With all the fly by night mold mitigation companies who will look at the attic mold as TOXIC and want $$$$ to deal with the problem, its better to nip it in the bud the first time its found.

    //Rick

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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    We all know what the characteristics of mold are. We all know when to call mold in our reports. But if we disclaim mold in our contract, we could be opening a can of worms by calling out a substance as mold in one area and not calling it out or missing it in a another. I had a discussion with a mold remediation firm a couple of years ago. I changed my report language after that discussion.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Fonos View Post
    We all know what the characteristics of mold are.
    Ray,

    I forgot to welcome you to this board at my last post, welcome to the fun and learning.

    Now, though, you still did not answer my question:

    You said: I'm not mold certified, so when I see mold, my report states that I found "a substance with the characteristics of mold".

    I asked: Okay, I'm game ... what "characteristics of mold" are you referring to?

    What "characteristics of mold" are you referring to? Remember, you are not "mold certified" (your words), so ... what are you looking for as far as "characteristics of mold" go?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Fonos View Post
    We all know what the characteristics of mold are.

    Well, perhaps not:

    Indoor Fungal Habits

    As an aside, I was in a house Saturday which had recently had two termite inspections. I had seen the reports of both inspections, and I still could not find the evidence of infestation in the indicated areas. That's why I don't to structural pest inspections, or play microbiologist.

    Michael Thomas
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I look for black, white, green, brown or yellow substances. Some have a powdery texture, while others have a wet feel. Most will wipe off, while some of the black areas embed themselves and do not readily wipe off.

    I'm not new to inspecting, just new to this board. I've been in business almost four years and have done over 1,100 inspections. I've seen my share of mold in every area of homes, as recently as today in an attic. My insurance does not cover claims for mold, so I feel that I need to select my words carefully when it comes to dealing with it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Fonos View Post
    I look for black, white, green, brown or yellow substances. Some have a powdery texture, while others have a wet feel. Most will wipe off, while some of the black areas embed themselves and do not readily wipe off.
    Okay, you feel confident that you know the characteristics of mold.

    so I feel that I need to select my words carefully when it comes to dealing with it.
    By your own admission, you can recognize mold.

    Thus, *YOUR BUTT COULD BE SUED OFF* for *NOT* calling it "mold". And, guess, what - I'm betting that if there was mold and YOU did not call it mold, your in$urance is going to stand on the sidelines and say 'you know, you really should have told them it was mold' ... 'because you could back you up for defense in telling them, we just cannot back you up for NOT TELLING them' ...

    You may not be new to inspecting, have been in business 4 years and done over 1,000 inspections, but you do need to recognize when to call a 'duck' a 'duck'.

    If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, and it looks like a duck, and, by your own admission, you can recognize ducks - you need to call it a duck.

    Sorry, just no excuse for not doing so.

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    It was, and still is, common advice at cont. ed seminars or other various HI educational venues to stay away from the 'M' word..... I'm not saying one way or another is right or wrong but Ray is certianly not alone with his methodology on the subject.

    Like everything..... we're all born knowing nothing and just reproduce information we take in the best way we see fit.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    It was, and still is, common advice at cont. ed seminars or other various HI educational venues to stay away from the 'M' word..... I'm not saying one way or another is right or wrong but Ray is certianly not alone with his methodology on the subject.

    Like everything..... we're all born knowing nothing and just reproduce information we take in the best way we see fit.
    Who is saying this? Names? Locations? More home inspector folklore!

    I have been to many conferences and the only ones I hear saying this are the attorney guys that work for the Mold testing labs. Not a real credible source of information, kind of self serving if you ask me.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Yeah, it's totally self serving.... one of the things that bugs me is to have to refer people to the 'mold' guys.... my experience is that they go overboard... sometimes way overboard. But when someone asks "should I get a mold inspection...?" the last thing I'm going to do is tell them no.

    As for a specific instance..... I was at the Kaplan show in Vegas last year (as in 15 months ago) and an attorney was giving a talk about liability and this topic came up..... He said saying 'mold like' was useless and was no different than saying 'mold' and a bit of a conversation about the subject ensued. Afterwards I talked with a couple guys and the idea of not talking about it specifically seemed to be the overwhelming opinion.

    It's also been fairly standard amongst some of the inspectors in Oregon.... Honestly, I haven't attended a seminar locally in a couple years but I left several classes with the direction to NEVER put the 'M' word in a report.

    The hysteria over mold seems to have died down a little bit from a few years ago. I think a lot of people were just running scared not knowing what was going to happen.

    Live and learn.... I'm sure the guys that were wiring houses with aluminum wiring throught they had happended onto the greatest thing since sliced bread.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Scott,

    You asked "Who is saying this? Names? Locations? More home inspector folklore!"

    Answer: Kevin O'Hornett and Roger Hankey, November 10, 2007, Springfield, IL, ASHI-GLC conference:

    "Excluding inspection for mold in a contract"
    "Then including inspection for "mold-like substances" and indicating that the report will document any which are found"
    "Amounts to shooting yourself in your own foot"
    "Adhere to the contract and scope of work"
    "Don't do or say things that are beyond the defined scope of work"

    While I understand what they're saying, my approach is same as yours. In fact they presented a few guidelines that I don't follow.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    What do you think of this one?

    I inspected a double wide for a client that had bailed on a previous contract due to my findings (the place wasn't worth doggie doo)

    This one was a little nicer. It sat on 1/2acre, well and septic, very nice brick work skirting, and a lot of cosmetic issues that he was willing to overcome.

    I found a bad skylight and roof vent (or two) where water was getting in.
    Inside, under those items, I found a large stain with what appeared to be a mold like substance. I explained my wording to him by stating that I was not a biologist or in any other way certified in mold identification, however, if it looks like it, and smells like it, I dont have to taste it to know what it is. He got the hint and decided that it would cost about 10k to r & r the affected area including kitchen cabinets, and he'd still be ahead. (bank owned property.

    He decided to go ahead with the purchase and everything was going well until the appraiser showed up.

    The appraiser wrote up three items of concern.
    1. The carpet needed stretching... (my client intended on replacing it)
    2. There were active leaks. ( my client was going to hire a roofer to remove the skylights and repair the vents.
    3 There was "active mold" ( at which time the appraiser stopped the appraisal process and told the loan originator that she would not proceed due to mold being present.)

    Here's the dilemma.....

    Since when do appraisers make judgement calls on a property instead of giving an expert opinion on a properties worth regardless of conditions found.

    The doublewide was selling for $72.k and the client was financing $45k.

    I figure that $45k was what the 1/2 acre was worth....

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  38. #38
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Victor,

    She could have a Heath Condition.

    Wanted out of POS.

    Knew someone who wanted the Property.

    Personal Problem (Business) wanted to leave.

    Axe to grind (You Pick) Lender,Seller,Buyer ect.
    .or
    I am Woman Hear Me Roar.

    ect.

    I'd say she claimed health as the reason she did not finish the appraisal.

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Scott,

    You asked "Who is saying this? Names? Locations? More home inspector folklore!"

    Answer: Kevin O'Hornett and Roger Hankey, November 10, 2007, Springfield, IL, ASHI-GLC conference:

    "Excluding inspection for mold in a contract"
    "Then including inspection for "mold-like substances" and indicating that the report will document any which are found"
    "Amounts to shooting yourself in your own foot"
    "Adhere to the contract and scope of work"
    "Don't do or say things that are beyond the defined scope of work"

    While I understand what they're saying, my approach is same as yours. In fact they presented a few guidelines that I don't follow.
    As I said, it is home inspector folklore. Kevin and Roger are home inspectors by trade.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor DaGraca View Post
    What do you think of this one?

    I inspected a double wide for a client that had bailed on a previous contract due to my findings (the place wasn't worth doggie doo)

    This one was a little nicer. It sat on 1/2acre, well and septic, very nice brick work skirting, and a lot of cosmetic issues that he was willing to overcome.

    I found a bad skylight and roof vent (or two) where water was getting in.
    Inside, under those items, I found a large stain with what appeared to be a mold like substance. I explained my wording to him by stating that I was not a biologist or in any other way certified in mold identification, however, if it looks like it, and smells like it, I dont have to taste it to know what it is. He got the hint and decided that it would cost about 10k to r & r the affected area including kitchen cabinets, and he'd still be ahead. (bank owned property.

    He decided to go ahead with the purchase and everything was going well until the appraiser showed up.

    The appraiser wrote up three items of concern.
    1. The carpet needed stretching... (my client intended on replacing it)
    2. There were active leaks. ( my client was going to hire a roofer to remove the skylights and repair the vents.
    3 There was "active mold" ( at which time the appraiser stopped the appraisal process and told the loan originator that she would not proceed due to mold being present.)

    Here's the dilemma.....

    Since when do appraisers make judgement calls on a property instead of giving an expert opinion on a properties worth regardless of conditions found.

    The doublewide was selling for $72.k and the client was financing $45k.

    I figure that $45k was what the 1/2 acre was worth....

    All logic flies out the window with this stuff.... I'd imagine some statistic on some actuary's desk shows them that mold = $$ = liability rather than asset. Basically, if the buyers defaults (of course by dying of mold poisoning) the property could be deemed a toxic site.

    I say this partially sarcastically because most of the time the reaction is much more harsh than is really necessary but banks aren't really known for liking to gamble.


  41. #41
    Ray Fonos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    [QUOTE] If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, and it looks like a duck, and, by your own admission, you can recognize ducks - you need to call it a duck. [QUOTE]


    My Dad always said, "opinions are like assholes; everybody has one"

    This business rest a lot on ones opinion. My opinion is what it is. It appears that others agree with me. I'll stick with what has worked for me.


  42. #42
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    That happens a lot here in the Chicagoland area as well, in regards to appraisers calling out mold. Based on the most recent pictures, I think that mold is pretty apparent. Generally, what I tell people that mold is an indication that moisture is coming in. You deal with the moisture problem, you take care of the mold. I generally don't recommend mold tests, I think they are way oversold.....But there are some attic cases, where it's a judgement call and it is really hard to tell. Only then would I recommend one.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Watch out for those ducks

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Regarding what to call the subject biological growth.


    The taxonomy within the Kingdom Fungi does not, so far as I know, contain the term mold. Thus, the term fungi is accurate. Because the species of fungi is not not known without expert identification, the observed fungi is unidentified. Thus, the term unidentified fungi is accurate.

    While the term mold is widely used, even in scientific literature, mold is, unfortunately, an emotionally charged term. Use of a less emotionally charged term might help our clients focus on what is more important. As Scott points out remediation and finding the source of the moisture is far more important than the species of fungus.


    Regarding whether to call out observed fungi.

    Home inspection is risky business and you face risk whether or not you call observed fungi. The risk of not calling observed fungi is far greater.

    It is theoretically possible to be successfully sued for not calling out visible fungi regardless of whose Standards of Practice you follow and regardless of whether you disclaim enviornmental hazards in you inspection agreement. If the plaintiff's attorney can show that a reasonable inspector in your area would call out visible fungi, the plaintiff could prevail on a negligence theory.

    Reliance on a narrow interpretation of a Standard of Practice and on a long list of disclaimers will only provide some degree of protection. If you believe your client has a reasonable expectation that you will report visible fungi and if other reasonable inspectors would do the same, then the best and safest course is to serve your client and report it.

    Bruce Barker
    Dream Home Consultants


  45. #45
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Barker View Post
    While the term mold is widely used, even in scientific literature, mold is, unfortunately, an emotionally charged term. Use of a less emotionally charged term might help our clients focus on what is more important. As Scott points out remediation and finding the source of the moisture is far more important than the species of fungus.
    Yes, "mold" is an "emotionally charge term", however, to use another 'masking term' can lead to be sued because the HI tried to "mask" the problem from the client.

    Home inspection is risky business and you face risk whether or not you call observed fungi. The risk of not calling observed fungi is far greater.
    Calling "mold" by another term for the reason of "masking' the "emotional" issue can also lead to risk simply because, when the client finds "mold" and does not find "mold" on the HI report, and, during discussions and calls to the HI as to why "mold" was not called "mold" and I (the client) would have addressed this with greater concern had you called it "mold", and now I (the client) have to carry the $$$$$$$ cost myself instead of addressing it with the seller, I am now, through my attorney, addressing that $$$$$ cost through you, the HI.

    I can see NO 'benefit' for using a term other than "mold" to report "mold". And that using a "less emotional term" can only lead to the lawsuit one is trying to avoid.

    I cannot figure out why HIs do not want to call "mold" ... "mold", other than to try to suppress the calling of the "mold" condition. That reason alone is enough for the HI to get sued over.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Red face Re: Attic Mold?

    Fungi is not a masking term. It's a technically accurate term for the substance that also has the benefit of being less emotionally charged.

    There is no legal basis that I'm aware of supporting your claim that using a technically accurate term to describe a condition will increase the risk of litigation. If the finding and recommendation are both accurate, using either the technically accurate term or the common but less technically accurate term will work.

    If you or anyone else wants to call an unidentified fungal growth mold, I respect that point of view. What you call it is less important, IMHO, than calling it if you see it.

    Bruce Barker
    Dream Home Consultants


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Barker View Post
    Fungi is not a masking term. It's a technically accurate term for the substance that also has the benefit of being less emotionally charged.
    It IS "a masking term", technically accurate or not.

    Especially when the stated reason is "being less emotionally charged".

    Spin it any way you want, but with a stated reason of "being less emotionally charged", the purpose of using it is "to mask" the issue so the emotions are not there.

    And that *could easily* lead to the HI being accused (rightly so) of "masking the issue" when the client discovers the "mold" later and asks the HI why the HI did not tell them there was "mold".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    I am not trying to spin anything. My style is to state facts as unemotionally as possible. When emotions are reduced, people can often find more logical solutions to situations.

    What case or statutory law are you citing to support a conclusion that using the technically correct term to describe something constitutes negilgent reporting? I've been to law school and I can't think of any legal theory supporting this concept.

    Bruce Barker
    Dream Home Consultants


  49. #49
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Barker View Post
    What case or statutory law are you citing to support a conclusion that using the technically correct term to describe something constitutes negilgent reporting? I've been to law school and I can't think of any legal theory supporting this concept.
    Nothing.

    Only that's not what you stated above.

    Your reasoning was to write it up so it was less emotional, and that simple reason will get you sued once the "mold" is discovered and you clients wants to know why you did not report it as "mold".

    You've been to law school? Good, I have not. However, I suspect that *both of us* know that 'anyone can sue you for any reason' ... right?

    And, that once you get sued, there is a cost involved in defending against that lawsuit ... right?

    And, that once you get sued for not disclosing mold in a manner in which your client would readily recognize it in your report as "mold", your defense is now going to have to come to grips with just what you wanted to avoid ... emotion ... right?

    And ... emotion ... wins a lot of the time ... right?

    How many things am I wrong in?

    How many may have been avoided by calling "mold" ... well, ... "mold"? (Answer: All of them.)

    Not a lawyer or even a law school student, but, hey, I did spend the night in a Holiday Inn a few times.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Smile Re: Attic Mold?

    As with most questions of how to report, this is one where people of goodwill can come to different conclusions and still respect the other's point of view.

    I have never been sued for calling a fungus a fungus and doubt that I or anyone else will either. In my opinion, the important thing is not whether you call it mold or fungus. What is far more important in avoiding liability as how you explain the issues involved when you find fungus (mold) and what you recommend that your client do about it.

    Bruce Barker
    Dream Home Consultants


  51. #51
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Barker View Post
    What is ... important ... how you explain the issues involved when you find fungus (mold) and what you recommend that your client do about it.
    On that we are in full agreement.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  52. #52
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Okay, why is there issues, other than stopping the source of the moisture into the attic, increasing venting and effectively stopping the growth? Number one, older houses that don't have a tight envelope for the interior conditioned space don't have this problem and newer homes are sealed from the attic with air movement, if any, from the conditioned space to the attic space. Where is the exposure? Why would you spend thousands to clean a non issue?


  53. #53
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Because an attorney will have your clients living at the Hilton claiming they are too sick and mentally anguished to work or go home.


  54. #54
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Have to agree with Jerry Peck on this one. Not calling mold for what it is would be about the same as having your wife say the car has a paint flaw on the passenger door, then finding out the car was sideswiped. It still is a paint flaw, but at least you didn't get too emotional.


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Sorry I'm late coming in to this thread, but Scott Patterson, are you still out there. Really enjoyed your answer about the mold issue. My question is to you, how then would you relate what you saw in Robert Mountain's photos to a client. It looks quite minor so would you suggest having someone in, how would you approach your client on that one? Thanks alot. Brian


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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    fishman19,

    As, I am sure, you have noticed, we use real names here - helps us 'get to know each other'.

    Please click on the 'Contact Us' link at the bottom of the page and ask Brian to reset your user name to your real name.

    It helps all to use real names here,

    Thank you,

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  57. #57

    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Good morning, Gents:

    Although I did not read all of the posts, I started with the last one and read backwards for a page or so – I was intrigued with the posts, especially those of Bruce Barker.

    Mr. Barker may agree with my law professor whose motto was “Law is a war of words.” Although we no longer use "Kingdoms" in biological nomenclature, Mr. Barker is correct in that the term “mold” is not a specific classification – a fungi is a "mould" only when a cognizant person so chooses to call it a mould. A particular fungus could be a “mould,” a "yeast," and just a fungus, at three different stages in it’s life cycle – or indeed all three simultaneously at one single colony. (It is also for this reason that many fungi are classified as different genera and species even though they are in fact, the same exact organism - thus the change from traditional taxonomy to phylogeny).

    A “mould” is merely a morphological description of a fungus – it is any filamentous fungi. That’s all.

    Accordingly, in criminal law (and possibly civil law), a nonscientist with no understanding technical training in mycology, microbiology or phylogeny, would be permitted to testify as an expert witness, as to whether or not a material was a mould or not a mould based exclusively on their personal experience and common knowledge.

    It is similar to allowing the testimony of a material witness to state whether or no they couild smell coffee - no one will challenge the statement in court, since it is recognized that even an untrained person can be expected to recognize the odor of coffee.

    Having said that I have seen many, many, many reports from home inspectors over the years, where the Home Inspector has called visible discolorations and crystal like patterns “mould” when in fact the materials are not even biological in nature, let alone moulds.

    So, is there liability attributed to using the word mould? I would say it would have to depend on the person so using the word and the standard of care to which that person is held. For example, if I use the word mould in my reports, I incur HUGE liability if it isn’t. If an Home Inspector uses the term “mould” in a report, but do not otherwise present themselves as “experts” in the field of mycology, then they do not incur musch liability. If however, an Home Inspector claims to be a three-day wonder NACHI Certified Mould Inspector, and they use the word mould, then they too incur liability – only because they have presented themselves as experts, the lack of any legitimate training notwithstanding.

    So it is not so much the use of the word as being correctly applied or not being correctly applied, so much as it is the presentation of the person who is applying the word that will dictate the liability of its use.

    Now having said that, I looked at the photos from Robert Mountain, and here are my thoughts:

    * It is extremely difficult to tell if the material is or is not mould from the photos.

    *The material in the photos is consistent with mould.

    *The material in the photos is consistent with a mould belonging to several genera including Absidia, Penicillia and Aspegilli.

    *If the material is mould, the deposition of the material is consistent with a minor moisture intrusion issue due to condensation.

    *The material, regardless of it actual nature (mould or not mould) appears to present no reasonable concern in any one of the three important categories:

    -Aesthetics
    -Structural integrity
    -Human exposures

    Just my thoughts.

    Cheers!
    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  58. #58
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Hi,

    I don't know why the big fuss over what to call it; before the Ballard case, most of us just called it "fungal growth," pointed out what was causing it - lack of proper ventilation, moisture-laden air leaking into the attic from the home or water leaking through roof, floors, etc. - and told folks to get the issue fixed and go on with their lives. Isn't that what we still do?

    Nearly 12 years after starting this business, I still call it fungal growth and still make the same recommendations.

    The only change that the mold hysteria has had for me is that now I have to spend more time on the pre-inspection phase of my inspection managing clients' expectations about mold, whereas when I started, which was prior to Ballard vs. Farmers, it was just another part of doing inspections.

    Now I have to be careful to point out to folks that my pre-inspection agreement with them specifically excludes mold because I'm not an expert on molds and won't be able to tell them, regardless of the appearance of the stuff, whether it is or isn't some of the stuff that the media is constantly running scary stories about.

    I tell folks that my job is to find construction defects, and, where those defects can result in water intrusion, excess humidity, or poor ventilation, I wouldn't be surprised to find fungal growth. I tell them that if I see some type of fungal growth during the inspection it might be mold, or it might be dirt, soot, or something else, although if it is mold I'm pretty certain I'll be able to tell that it is - I just won't be able to tell them what kind it is.

    I tell them that, if I do uncover something like that, I'm going to point it out to them and tell them, if I'm reasonably certain I know, what's caused it. I tell them that, should they be concerned about it at that point, due to what they've seen and heard in the media, then they'll need to hire a good indoor air quality lab to check it out further, tell them what it actually is, and tell them what to do about it to give them a warm and fuzzy about the situation. Me, I'll just tell them what I think needs to be done to correct whatever caused it and to kill it. Beyond that, they'll be on their own.

    I specifically caution them NOT to hire one of me - namely anyone who is a home inspector or has a home inspection company that offers mold inspections or sampling as an additional service - to follow up on the substance. Why? Because I don't think anyone who gets his/her mold expertise from a 2/3 day seminar is competent to be making declarations about the stuff. We aren't scientists like Caoimhín and we don't have the training and expertise that he has. Yet, we inspectors do tend to over-state our expertise at times and I think that's what gets us in trouble.

    I looked at the picture in the first post in this thread. I wouldn't be uncomfortable telling the client that it's some kind of fungal growth that looks like mold, recommending that they ensure all bath fans are vented to the exterior, that there are seals on all access hatches, seal all gaps around wiring, pipes, and chimneys that pass up into the attic, adjust insulation so that it's not blocking soffit/eave vents or collapsing air chutes, and ensure they've got well-balanced attic ventilation. Then I'd tell them to threat it with BoraCare to kill it and make the wood untenable for it. I'd tell them that if, beyond those recommendations, they're concerned about the fact that it's some kind of mold and wondering whether they'll get sick from it, to find out from a doctor whether they have allergies to molds and what kinds, and then get a good indoor air quality firm out to test it for them and advise them about what steps to take next.

    Now, before everyone freaks out that I made specific recommendations for correction - instead of something like, "Have a mold specialist investigate this issue and deal with appropriately," or some such; keep in mind that mold is a pest and that inspectors in Washington State are required to do pest inspections, at least for the next 78 days until our new law becomes codified, and must make recommendations for corrections of pests found during an inspection. Even then, after the law becomes official, we'll still have to comment about fungal growth and such and recommend corrective measures. I'm only concerned with the fact that it's there and telling the client how correct what caused it and how to stop it from spreading - I couldn't care less whether it's any of the so-called "toxic" varieties or a harmless variety of mold.

    Bottom line, at least from my point of view, is that mold has been around since before we were here. If it were so "toxic," the human race - particularly here in the western corridor where there is supposedly a higher-than-normal spore count - wouldn't have survived, or, at the least, we'd all be walking around wearing face masks and carrying oxygen bottles. So, other than doing a little better managing of our clients' expectations, there's no reason for inspectors to be doing things any differently than we did them for 40 years prior to Ballard.

    This stuff is not difficult; let's not make it more than what it is.

    ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

    Mike


  59. #59
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Thanks Cao; and thanks to all.

    Interesting....


  60. #60
    Dave Rice's Avatar
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    Talking Re: Attic Mold?

    I have been reading all the threads posted on "mold" and I have to agree with Scott. Call it what it is. I was a cop for 35 years before becoming an inspector and when I went to court we call Marijuanna marijuanna. Attorneys favorite trick with young officers was to ask them what burning marijuana smelt like and some of them would say " like burning rope or grass" and the attorney would then have them. Of course you know the next question, if it smelled like burning rope why did you arrest the defendant for smoking marijuanna. They got them every time. Remember black is black so say its mold if its mold.


  61. #61
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Robert I cant quite tell from your photos but that looks like white pocket rot to me. It is a condition the happens before the tree is harvested. It is very common in the Northwest. I commonly find this in attic rafters and trusses in homes built between the age of 1950-1960+. If this white pocket rot it is not a concern.


  62. #62
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    These pictures are of an attic in Seattle. The attic has a full ridge and soffett vents and appears dry and drafty. The deposits on the beam and and sheathing can best be described as similar to smears of drywall mud. It's dry, crumbly, wipes off easily and the wood underneath is dry. There is no musty or moldy smell to it. The home owner is certain this didn't exist a few years ago when a kitchen and bath remodel was done. Any insights are appreciated as to what this might be. Sorry if the pictures come out too big. Haven't figured out the thumbnail approach yet. Thanks, Alan.






  63. #63
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Whatever that is, it doesn't look like mold. The beam looks like handprints of mud or whatever while they put it into place. I'm not sure on the plywood.

    I'd take the homeowner's three year old recollection with a grain of salt.

    This is a perfect time of the old saying of 'write what you see' - Explain what it is and encourage them to have additional environmental testing done if they'd like.

    .....and welcome to the board


  64. #64
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    Default Re: Attic Mold?

    Hey allen that is mud... not mold. you can see hand prints in area of the boards. Been there from day one.

    Best

    Ron

    WWW.EXCELLENCEEXTERMINATING.COM


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