If you’re thinking about buying a home, here are some tips to avoid mold:
■ Look for obvious signs of mold or potential for mold. Look for standing water in the basement, water marks on the walls, musty smells, especially in areas with plumbing.
■ If it’s a newer home, find out whether it’s built with synthetic stucco (also called exterior insulation and finish system). It’s an airtight barrier to improve insulation but, if improperly installed, can allow water penetration and mold to grow on the inside of the walls.
■ It’s not a home inspector’s job to look for mold, but most will mention or notice obvious signs of water damage and mold. Don’t be afraid to ask if he or she saw anything or to ask that anything they noticed be included in the report.
■ If the home inspector can’t do a mold test, consider paying a company to do it.
■ Ask the seller to disclose any mold- or water-related problems. Be aware the seller only has a duty to disclose what they know about or should know about, not to inspect the inside of the walls. You can also ask if the home owner has experienced things that lead to mold growth, such as bursting pipes and leaking windows.
■ If you want to make an offer on the property, you can make the sale contingent on your satisfaction with the result of a mold inspection.