Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Q. We recently bought a house and went through a home inspection.

Now, many months later, we find that we have a major mold problem in one room. We had it inspected by a mold expert and it will require removing a section of the roof, taking out the mold and insulation, then replacing the insulation and the roofing. No one said anything about this during the sale and we’d like the seller to pay for it.

A.
Mold has become the leading subject of real estate law suits around the country and may get worse before it gets better. It causes health problems, and black mold especially, has caused the temporary closing of schools, factories and apartment buildings. It’s a serious problem and I’m glad you got an expert out right away before the damage (and your health) became worse.

If the seller had never had a mold problem before, or if it occurred after the sale, it’s unlikely that you have recourse against them. Mold is insidious. It can fester inside walls or ceilings for a long time unnoticed. It’s even possible that the seller didn’t recognize it for what it was. Most molds first appear as small dark spots that can look like many things. It grows when excess moisture is present and can develop quickly.

Unless you have some proof that the mold was present and easily identified before the sale, you probably have no case. If your inspector was a good one and didn’t find the mold, it probably wasn’t visible or wasn’t there. REMEMBER to keep all areas of a house heated at least to 50to dry out moisture. Run the ceiling fan when you shower or bathe. Clean showers and tubs often with mold and mildew killing products. Plain bleach works fine.