Environmental Assessment

Home inspections are required when purchasing a home, but because they are often treated as a formality, they are not all you need to rest easy when buying a home. Take it a step further with a home environmental assessment, and you may save yourself serious money.

Because home inspectors don’t usually look for the signs of environmental trouble that we’re familiar with, an inspection alone may stick new homeowners with big bills post-purchase. A typical home inspection involves components of the home such as the foundation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC system, roof, appliances, windows and doors.

And what about the environmental factors that can negatively impact the health of the home and its occupants? Frequently the causes of poor indoor air quality go undetected during a home inspection. Mold, asbestos, lead, radon, VOCs, dirty crawl space or basement air, and other pollutants may be lurking in the home. Over time, these environmental factors may lead to health concerns and can quickly turn a basic remodeling project into an expensive abatement or remediation.

The Stamp of Approval

We recently received a call from new homeowners who’d had a nasty surprise after their house passed inspection. When they were in the process of buying the home, they had noticed that some of the kitchen tiles were popping up and the grout lines were cracking. They attributed the problem to the age of the home, and because the house passed inspection and they planned to remodel, they were not concerned about the damage.

If a professional inspector gives it the OK, it seems wise to stick to his or her opinion! Unfortunately a home inspection will usually be tailored to the inspector’s expertise, and may not be as thorough as is necessary when investing in a new home.

A Rude Awakening

Once the deal was sealed, the homeowners got busy with a kitchen remodel. Upon removing the kitchen cabinets, they found rotted, buckled and molded subfloor. Additionally, several floor joists were rotted, the drywall behind the cabinets was molded and the subfloor and floor joists under the kitchen were covered in mold. They needed a very extensive mold remediation.

The mold was caused by an incomplete vapor barrier and water in the crawl space. The downspouts on the front of the home didn’t direct water away from house and the front yard sloped upward towards the street. The house was essentially sitting on a hidden lake, and everytime it rained the water had nowhere to go but back under the foundation and into the crawl space.

On top of that, the dryer vent flex line had come loose and was blowing hot, humid air into the crawl space. This hot, humid air was mixing with the cooler, humid air already present and creating a “rainforest environment” in the crawl space.

The environment was perfect for mold. Lots of mold.

The floor tile, subfloor, several floor joists, molded drywall and cabinets all had to be removed and replaced. The drywall joint compound tested positive for asbestos, which had to be abated following federal regulations. On top of the cost of the home and subsequent remodel, the homeowners had to spend a whopping $10,000 on mold remediation and asbestos abatement to protect their investment and themselves.

The Environmental Approach

Because of our experience in construction, building materials and environmental factors, our home environmental assessments are extremely thorough. If we’d had the chance to assess this home prior to the purchase we would have easily identified and diagnosed these problems, and the owners could have negotiated it off the purchase price or passed on buying the home altogether.

Instead, they repaired years’ worth of damage out of pocket.

If you’re buying a house, consider going a step beyond the typical home inspection with an environmental assessment from Branch Environmental, Inc. You could save your investment, thousands of dollars, and avoid some serious headaches. Contact us to get a second opinion on what could be your new home, and check out what to expect from a mold remediation and asbestos abatement.

Looking for more information? Check out our Mold FAQs.