Mold will typically be a turn-off for real estate professionals when searching for a home to fix and flip. If you think a home with mold could be profitable, you’ll have to figure out how to address the mold, and more importantly, how much it will cost you to remediate it.
How to Estimate Mold Damage
Once the mold is found, you’ll want to get an estimate to remove the mold from the property. Here are a few questions to keep in mind when getting an estimate from a mold remediation company. These questions will help determine the estimate provided.
- How extensive is the mold?
- Where is the mold located in the home?
- What type of mold is it?
Question 1: How Extensive is the Mold?
During the Inspection and Mold Damage Assessment, you’ll get an idea of how extensive the mold is. The amount of mold that is found correlates with the number of hours to remove the mold.
Question 2: Where is the Mold Located in the Home?
Is it in the attic or an unfinished basement, or is it in actual living space? This can affect the mold removal process during a fix and flip project.
There are a lot of areas in the basement where mold grows due to the moistness of the area. Here are a few places to look:
- Around pipes and ducting ( look for leaks, excess moisture, and condensation)
- Near areas where the foundation may be leaking
- Near a sump pump
- Windows or vents where condensation might gather
Because attics contain much of the home’s ventilation system, mold in the attic can be a big problem if left unchecked, as this can cause a spread of mold throughout the home. In your attic, check for mold:
- On the roof, near any possible leaks
- In your insulation
- Near any vents from the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room/dryer
- Near your water heater or furnace
- Around your soffit vents (these are the vents near the bottom of the roof that provide ventilation to the attic)
Shower & Bathtub:
This is one of the most common places to find mold, due to potential moistness of using the shower or tub. Proper ventilation is key to preventing mold and it will grow if not done. Common areas to check are in and around the faucet and showerhead and in the tile grout itself.
Due to dirty dishes and bacteria build-up, mold can be common in, on, and under the kitchen sink. Be sure to check underneath the sink for any leaky pipes which can cause mold.
Bathroom Sink and Toilet:
The presence of water, combined with the humid nature of bathrooms, makes sinks and toilets prone to mold growth. The surfaces of the sink and counters, if not cleaned and dried, are the most noticeable places to check. A few places to check are the tank of the toilet, behind the toilet, underneath the bathroom sink where cleaning supplies are stored, and all of the pipes for both the sink and toilet.
Windows and Window Sills:
As mentioned above, windows that collect condensation due to humidity can be especially problematic in preventing mold growth. If that moisture finds its way to the indoor window sill, you’re almost certain to have a mold problem. That is unless you dry it off regularly.
Rooms with Humidifiers, HVAC Systems:
You probably prefer your bedroom to be at the optimal temperature for you to get a good night’s rest. Using the AC and heating unit are fine (and can help control humidity), but it’s possible to find mold in the vents of an HVAC unit.
Rain from your car and water leaks from the roof are two of the main ways mold gets invited into your garage. If you use your garage for storage of old items or cleaning supplies, you may find mold growing in places you wouldn’t expect. Be sure to check for mold:
- Behind or under any storage areas that don’t get moved around very often
- Around the garage doors and windows
- In areas where water may be standing for long periods of time
Question 3: What Type of Mold Is It?
The type of mold can also affect the work to remove the mold, and also how quickly the mold should be removed. For instance, toxic molds are
- Where it is typically found: found both indoors and outdoors, appearing in damp areas like the sink, shower, or dark areas on the outside the home.
- Appearance or Odor: Contains dark green or brown hairs and has a velvet-like texture.
- Harmful effects: asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
- Where it is typically found: The aureobasidium mold is most often found on wooden furniture, surfaces, painted walls and wallpaper as well as around windows and in caulk.
- Appearance or Odor: If you notice a spotty substance that is pink and black in color in those areas, it’s probably this type of mold.
- Harmful effects: Most people do develop allergic reactions to it, but it’s also known to cause more severe reactions. It can also cause various Eye, skin, and nail infections.
- Where it is typically found: Chaetomium mold is found in the drywall that has experienced water damage.
- Appearance or Odor: People typically identify its presence when they smell a musty or old odor in their homes.
- Location: The Ulocladium mold is found both outside and inside. Ulocladium is typically found in areas that have been severely damaged by water like in the floors and walls of homes that have experienced a flood.
- Risks: This kind of mold causes many homeowners to develop allergic reactions and infections.
- Appearance or Odor: Long flask-shaped spores that form thick layers or walls of the mold. It can vary in color.
- Harmful effects: Severe reactions include respiratory infections, allergic reactions, and inflamed lungs. There are cases of Aspergillus being capable of being toxic.
- Location: can be found inside both cool and warm areas like carpet, wood floorboards, wooden cabinet, and old fabrics.
- Appearance or Odor: Olive-green or brown color with a suede-like texture
- Harmful effects: cladosporium mold can leave homeowners with breathing problems and respiratory issues.
- Where it is typically found: Fusarium is a mold that tends to grow in colder, wetter areas. The typical homes for the fusarium mold are carpeted areas and similar fabrics.
- Appearance or Odor: Pink, white, or red
- Harmful effects: this mold can cause a standard allergic reaction as well as respiratory infections and inflammation. Prolonged exposure can lead to severe and even life-threatening conditions, such as bone infections or a brain abscess.
- Where it is typically found: Penicillium is a mold that can be found indoors, and is usually inside insulation, furnishings, water damaged furniture, carpeting and more. If not treated, it can spread quickly within a home.
- Harmful effects: Penicillium can cause homeowners to have sinus infections, lung inflammation, as well as allergic reactions.
- Where it is typically found: Trichoderma is another mold that grows in damp areas of the home. It’s often found in damp carpeting, wallpaper, and other home surfaces.
- Harmful effects: The harm with trichoderma comes from the production of mycotoxins that can cause sinus infection, allergic reactions, and more.
- Appearance or Odor: It starts as a small and turns into a powdery substance. It is often pink, orange, grey, or white in color.
- Location: This mold will grow in humidifiers, cooling coils, drain pans, and window sealants.
- Risks: Exposure to this mold is dangerous, and risks include bone marrow and immune system diseases, as well as impaired brain function.
- Appearance or Odor: This type of mold can be identified by its musty smell and is found in areas that stay damp, like air conditioning pipes and ducts.
- Risks: This mold can cause breathing issues, sinus infections, depression, fatigue, asthma attacks, and more.
- Location: commonly found outside but can also grow inside on wooden surfaces. This mold leads to dry rot, feeding solely on wooden surfaces.
- Appearance or odor: It’s most noticeable by its yellow appearance.
Expert Tips on Finding & Estimating Mold Removal:
There are multiple factors that go into determining how bad the mold problem is.
Mike Marshall, Mold Inspection Sciences Texas:
- Water Sources: “The first thing to consider is: where are the water sources – are there localized leaks or is it throughout the home? When thinking about water sources, the thing that comes to mind is a pipe burst, a roof leak, or a window leak. One of the more latent (hidden) water sources is condensation and high humidity. The source of the water can have a direct impact on the types of molds and how widespread the mold will be.
- Location: The second thing is the location of the water source – if it’s a plumbing leak, does the plumbing run through a shared wall with multiple rooms? Is it at an exterior wall? Is it from a 2nd Floor area?
- Length of Time: The third thing to consider is the length of time that the water source and mold have been present. Certain types of molds like different amounts of water. Some molds are content with a little bit of water but grow quickly. Others need more water and time. This can play a role in the amount and types of mold present.
- HVAC systems: HVAC systems present a unique situation because it involves a network of duct runs and individual components in different areas in the home that are impacted.
- Hidden Mold: The last thing to consider is the possibility of hidden mold growth. Is there water staining and/or damage to building materials inside of the home? If so, there could be hidden mold growth. Performing air tests in the area/room can help determine if there is hidden mold present.”
Finding the Right Mold Remediation Company:
Once mold has been discovered, finding the right mold remediation company to remove mold in your fix and flip project will be critical to the success of your fix and flip project. Here are some things to identify and look for while searching for the right mold remediation company in your area:
An Honest Estimate
Some mold remediation companies can grossly misjudge the costs required to fix this. Find an honest company to provide an estimate that is not over-inflated, while allowing for the time to completely remove mold.
A Plan & Timeline that Fits Your Construction Schedule
Depending on the estimates, there will be a plan. For instance, if mold is in the basement, maybe the best course of action would be to completely gut the basement.
Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may be removed. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet, or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.
Make Sure the Issues Don’t Happen Again
You’ll want to be sure that the issue that causes the mold doesn’t happen again. For instance, fixing a water problem in a room that may have caused mold to grow.
What Mold Remediation Companies Do:
Mold remediation companies will clean up your mold in a few days if just some washing and removing carpet is involved, or in a few weeks if demolition and rebuilding is required.
Generally, the cleanup process entails:
- Removing water-damaged, mold-infested materials.
- Cleaning and disinfecting walls, carpet, and personal items.
- Removing drywall and studs if mold damage is extensive.
- Vacuuming with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration.
What is involved in removing mold?
When working with a mold remediation company, what are the steps you can expect in order to successfully remove mold? Here’s what professional home flippers need to know.
Mike Marshall, Mold Inspection Sciences Texas:
“Steps to removing mold growth (remediation) follow industry-accepted practices, which include physically removing and discarding the impacted material, cleaning structurally sound components, ensuring indoor air quality returns to normal conditions and applying EPA recommended chemicals to assist with removal and prevent further growth. We never recommend using bleach as it is not a long-term, effective method for removing mold.
For home flippers/landlords, covering up the mold problem to sell or rent the home quickly may just delay the inevitable discovery of the mold by the new buyers or tenants and could leave you on the hook for more than just the cost of remediation one the problems are found.
As a homeowner, there are several ways you can approach mold clean-up, but to determine which route to take you will need to ask the following:
- Are you planning to sell the home? Are you planning to lease or rent the home?
- If the answer to either question is yes, you will most likely need some type of documentation to provide to prospective buyers and/or tenants that the mold was remediated completely and properly. An accepted form of documentation in Texas is the Texas Department of Insurance – Certificate of Mold Damage Remediation.
To begin the remediation process, you will first need an inspection of the entire home and/or area(s) to determine. The inspection needs to be performed by a TDLR licensed Mold Assessor (TX Occ. Code 1958.101). Typical inspection and testing turnaround time with Mold Inspection Sciences of Texas is 3 business days; however, we understand that there are times when the report and results are needed sooner. In those instances, we may be able to offer expedited service (next business day or 2 business days).
Once the inspection and recommended testing has been completed, further recommendations can be made. The typical recommendations are:
There are times when the job is small enough and it makes sense economically to perform yourself as a DIY project. If you’re still after that documentation, the assessor would need to come back visually inspect and test for mold to confirm the mold has been removed and/or cleaned properly.
Types of Mold Remediation:
Engage a mold remediation company (MRC) to perform the work. In Texas, there are two types: licensed and non-licensed.
Licensed MRCs have met training, educational, and experience requirements set forth by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The licensure is the necessary credential to sign a Certificate of Mold Damage Remediation (CMDR) and to remediate an area of impacted material greater than 25 contiguous square feet. In order to obtain the CMDR, a protocol is required to be put in place and post-inspection and testing is required prior to building back.
The protocol is a separate written document that uses initial inspection observations and data to define remediation scope (size, rooms, areas, etc.), give specific instructions to the remediator, and sets the parameters for achieving clearance.
Non-licensed MRCs may perform remediation on areas less than 25 contiguous square feet. Non-licensed MRCs do not have the necessary credentials to sign the CMDR. Post remediation inspections and testing are not required, but they are highly recommended prior to building back.
Length of Time for Remediation
From inspection to receiving the final clearance, remediation can be as fast as 3 weeks or as long as 6 months. This all depends on the size of the job, the client’s resources, and the remediation company’s timeline. On average, the remediation process takes approximately 2-3 months from the time we get the request to perform the initial inspection to the time the final report and CMDR is issued.”
Costs of Remediation:
Remediation costs vary depending on how much and where the mold exists. Here are the general pricing breakdown of the remediation costs:
- $500 to $4,000 to remove mold from crawl spaces only.
- $2,000 to $6,000 to remove mold from ducts, crawl spaces, walls, and attics.
- $10,000 to $30,000 (or more) to repair widespread structural damage.
Mold Tips Moving Forward:
How can you avoid mold moving forward? This may be a good idea to pass on to tenants:
- Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold thrives on moisture, and can quickly grow when exposed to water.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Keep indoor humidity level below 45 percent.
- Be sure your gutters and downspouts are clear and water is properly draining away from your home’s foundation.
- Repair plumbing leaks and install exhaust fans in bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room.
- To avoid mold, run a dehumidifier to reduce the overall moisture level indoors.
- Eliminate any moisture issues at the source, or improve the ventilation, ideally both.
Working with Mold Homes for Fix and Flips
A fix and flip property with mold shouldn’t scare you, but it is important to get an estimate on the extent of mold and an estimate to remove it. That’s where hiring a great mold remediation company comes into play. Hiring a trusted mold remediation specialist will help your fix and flip project avoid mold-related problems.
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