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Originally posted by frosty23

Hi, I'm a new inspector and would like to offer mold collection service to my inspections. Can anyone recommend a lab and collection method as well as a recommended fee to charge. I will be working in the Lake havasu City, AZ area. Thanks

frosty

Best advice: don't go there.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hi,

I've been totally against home inspectors getting involved in mold testing since the whole 'mold is gold' thing began in the late 1990's.

Mold is a living microorganism. If we're going to inspect for mold, shouldn't be be looking for Hanta Virus, Smallpox, Yellow Fever and all sorts of other stuff too small to see? How about polio? Shouldn't we be looking for polio germs? I mean, more people got sick from polio than from mold didn't they? How about the bird flue? Should we be looking for bird flue germs? They all make you sick don't they?

So, if mold does make one sick, which the EPA, CDC and other medical experts seem to be skeptical about, shouldn't we at least be doctors or something that's remotely related to the medical or scientific field, and not a bunch of ex-whatevers that make our living checking out homes for people?

There's only one person I've every known of in this profession who I think has the education, training, experience and background to be able to do mold inspections and be taken seriously by scientific and medical experts, and when he was inspecting homes he didn't do it as part of his home inspection business.

That's Jeffrey May, author of My House Is Killing Me. He's had a legitimate IAQ firm for years, that, among other things, does mold inspections. I talked to him once by telephone when he was still doing home inspections and asked him whether he offered mold testing as part of his home inspection services and whether he thought it wise to get into the "mold is gold" business.

He told me that he made it a point not to mix the two business and said that, in his opinion, it was crazy for a home inspector to dabble in mold-related services, because without an extensive education and background in microbiology or mycology inspectors were exposing themselves to a great deal of liability. He actually laughed at the idea that someone could learn enough about mold and mold testing and such in one of these short seminars to make them credible mold "experts". That's all I needed to know to convince me that we (ordinary run of the mill home inspectors) ought to stay the heck out of it.

Imagine sitting in court someday because some yahoo is suing you and claiming that, because you missed some mold you'd been paid to find in a home you'd inspected, that his family is ill and the home is no longer habitable. Imagine. You're sitting there representing yourself as a credible "mold expert" and maintaining that the home was clean and you'd done what you were supposed to do. Imagine if the opposition calls a guy like May to the stand to refute your findings and tear you to shreds. Not a pretty mental picture, is it?

My advice. Leave the mold services to the long-established IAQ firms that were around long, long before home inspectors got into the mold inspecting arena. Do like I do, advise your clients that, if they are concerned about mold, to use only established IAQ firms and avoid any home inspectors that claim to be able to do credible mold inspections.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Great advice from everyone above.

I sometimes wonder how we all survived in our homes before we knew if there was asbestos, mold, radon, lead paint, etc..

On the other hand, if you are inspecting a house and the old deteriorated insulation is falling off of the steam pipes, there is black crud growing on the walls, the radon venting system terminates into the the attic, and the old windows have a lot of peeling paint, you better report these conditions and CYA.

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frosty23,

A belated "Welcome" to TIJ.

I should have welcomed you before, but I went off on one of my rants. Sorry.

You're wise to do your due diligence before jumping into these other business models and you came to the right place to ask questions about this business because most folks that frequent this board will never attempt to shine sunshine up you bottom with snake oil schemes.

What you've experienced today is a bunch of very conservative and successful inspectors being brutally honest with you. They weren't trying to bully you or intimidate you, but simply telling you their true unvarnished feelings about something that is, frankly, hurting the entire home inspection profession.

Don't stop asking questions.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I have to disagree w/ much of the fodder...we have been mold sample collectors for a couple of years now. I don't find collecting mold data any different than setting radon monitors, collecting water samples for quality, etc.

Mold testing is just another revenue stream. I have never claimed to be a "mold expert" and don't plan on becoming one.

A quick ROI calc comes to about 100%. May not be "gold", but sure has put some extra "toys" into my garage.

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Originally posted by slinger2k

I have to disagree w/ much of the fodder...we have been mold sample collectors for a couple of years now. I don't find collecting mold data any different than setting radon monitors, collecting water samples for quality, etc.

Here's the difference. There are well established guidelines for sampling of radon, water, asbesto and lead, etc; not so for mold. There are well-established thresholds for acceptable and unacceptable levels of radon, water contaminants, and lead in homes; not so for mold.

Real scientists don't seem to have a problem with home inspectors taking samples for radon and water quality.

Here's what the EPA says about mold testing:

Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established.

Mold testing is just another revenue stream. I have never claimed to be a "mold expert" and don't plan on becoming one.

I'm sure that's reassuring to your customers.

A quick ROI calc comes to about 100%. May not be "gold", but sure has put some extra "toys" into my garage.

And taken some out of your customer's garages, no doubt.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Welcome,

Always happy to engage in a spirited debate.

There are threshold levels for radon, lead and asbestos and contagions in water are proven to cause real illnesses. The medical and scientific communities have established casual links to illnesses caused by exposure to radon, lead and asbestos and consistent protocols for how to do sampling for each. Can the same be said about mold?

What is the threshold count for mold spore which triggers sickness? If you have a number, show me where the CDC or EPA have documented those numbers and proven that they actually 'cause' illnesses.

How many proven instances of people actually getting sick can be shown to, without a doubt, have been caused by mold exposure? What is that percentage of the general population? Is it in the 10, 20, 30% range or is it more like .00000001% or some other figure so small to be of no true consequence to the general population?

Where is the declaration by the medical authorities in this and other countries decrying mold as an epidemic that threatens everyone's immediate health?

If mold is such an insidious substance, why hasn't most of the human race succumbed to it? A more important question for us as home inspectors, why is it that this profession survived perfectly well without testing for mold, and didn't experience any mold lawsuits or skyrocketing E & O rates for the quarter of a century before Ballard? What's changed, other than some folks profiting from peoples' fears and insurance companies becoming nervous about that?

The number of people in this profession is about the size of the population of a medium-sized town. When a number of a town's population begin doing risky things, it affects the entire community. Don't think for a minute that this mold thing so many of you are playing with doesn't affect myself and others that don't have mold businesses, because it does. Just the way E & O rates have been skyrocketing is proof of that.

Insurance companies don't like risky behavior because it usually ends up cleaning out their coffers. Many are refusing to insure contractors against mold now. The construction industry has numbers equivalent to the populations of major cities. If the insurance companies aren't willing to accept the risk from mold, spread out over that kind of a population base, how much longer before they decide to cut the entire home inspection profession loose, because so many in this small, mostly unregulated demographic are loose cannons willing to dabble in mold inspections and perpetuate this mold myth, even when the best medical experts say such inspections aren't unnecessary?

A profession earns credibility by doing worthwhile and respectable deeds - not by playing off of peoples' fears that are fueled by mostly unfounded media hype and junk science.

Laugh all the way to the bank and wrap yourself in your cash at night if you want to, just understand that when this mold thing blows up in everyone's face it's home inspectors who've been the primary point of contact for the consumer, and it's going to be home inspectors - all home inspectors - who the public will blame for having started the whole thing, and it will be home inspectors whose progress toward being considered true professionals, instead of service trades like dog walkers and carpet cleaners, will have lost credibility in the eyes of the public. When that happens will you still be around to help turn the profession around again or will you have moved on to the next hot fad?

The founders of this profession set out standards of practices and protocols 30 years ago - none of them included mold sampling or testing or anything remotely related to it. That has always been the purview of specialists unrelated to home inspectors and that's the way it should be today.

Mike

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Originally posted by slinger2k

Mold testing is just another revenue stream. I have never claimed to be a "mold expert" and don't plan on becoming one.

A quick ROI calc comes to about 100%. May not be "gold", but sure has put some extra "toys" into my garage.

So, if your ROI is 100%, than I guess we can assume you've received NO training. Do you disclose to your clients that you have no training?

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The slinger2K approach is about what I expect for folks in the "mold game". Don't know, don't care, but quite happy to rake in additional income playing off folks ignorance & fear.

One can approach the profession, or they can take part and contribute to the industry. One thing for sure; the money always gets the news. Education is "boring".

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I am getting so old I noticed what "appears to be mold or mildew" on top of my shoes. I am concerned about what action to take.[:-crazy]

I was at an ASHI meeting a few years back and the guest speaker was a mold remediation expert. The prices he quoted for his services were not believeable to remove mold from homes and crawl spaces! When asked how he justified such high prices his comment "I do not justify them. If I can get it I will take it". He metioned $40,000 to treat a crawl space.

Everyone at the meeting was sick of the guy. He passed his literature and cards around so we could send Him business. Mine went in the first trash can I encountered.

Paul Burrell

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We've got Servicemaster going for the jugular around here.

Had a job the other day w/some of the black mildew on the underside of the attic sheathing; made the usual notes, reported appropriately, etc. Customer calls Servicemaster; they quote him $30,000 to tear off the entire roof & sheathing down to the rafters. They found another guy who came in & blasted w/Boracare for $1100. I went back to look & it's all fine.

$30,000 or $1100? Jeeez, do you think someone's ripping folks off?

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Hi All,

Obviously, though mold inspections have been around for about 6 years, not many of us have been convinced by the firms that do this training or testing. It would be nice to at least hear some type of substantial scientific evidence or an endorsement from a credible and competent authority on why mold inspections are a good thing. Can anyone that does this stuff provide that?

Come on, I know you guys are out there lurking. If any of you can provide that kind of endorsement, how about stepping up to the plate and convincing me? I'd like nothing better than a new revenue stream that I can justify and which my customers will truly need. Convince me and I'll go out and get the training tomorrow and begin mold inspections the day after.

Waddaya say? Any Takers?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'd like nothing better than a new revenue stream that I can justify and which my customers will truly need. Convince me and I'll go out and get the training tomorrow and begin mold inspections the day after.

Waddaya say? Any Takers?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike the $$$$$ is not in the testing it is in the remediation. Like radon testing it costs about $150 in my area to test but the work to cure the radon if the testing equipment indicates radon is present is where the $$$ is.

Paul Burrell

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You guys take responses way TOO seriously.

I have training only in accepted methods of mold sampling. I do not, have not and will not make any claims as to the dangers of being exposed to toxic, allergenic and/or pathogenic "molds". I'm not an industrial hygenist - the lab I send samples to shoulders the responsibilty of deciphering what has been collected.

Fellas (and ladies), business to me is economics. If my clientele wants something (such as mold sampling), I run the numbers and push forward if it appears the reward will outweigh the risk. Please don't tell me the majority of you are running your own business for the smiles, thank yous and pats on your back. I do it for what it puts in my pocket and my bank account. Same goes for the other businesses I run. We live in a fiscal world where words and actions of gratification do not pay bills.

Someone tell me why, if mold is so mysterious and unproven, mold claims cost insurers more than a BILLION dollars (2001 - can't imagine what that number ballooned to over the past 4 yrs). Is the public and our higher court system that stupid that we could all be duped so easily.

Lastly, the "mold game" as some of you call it represents less than 3% of my gross...again it is an additional revenue stream that has been requested by my customer base. I don't run my business as a stick in the mud - the world changing around me dictates change within.

BTW dok...I have yet to find an E&O insurer that covers mold sampling as part of a home inspection. Two completely different acts, two completely different policies. Mold sampling is treated no differently than radon sampling (extra rider). My insurer would laugh at me and then hang up the phone if I presented a claim concerning negligence in the mold arena. I think rates have risen because the awareness (of inspecting your home prior to pruchase) in the community has risen resulting in a greater volume of inspections which in turn creates the opportunity for a greater number of lawsuits. I seem to recall having to pay a greater premium as my business grew - novel idea. ;)

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