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Mike Lamb

Attic Mold Boiler Plate

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I don't use cut and paste boiler plates but I type the same thing so many times that it is essentially the same thing. This is typically what I will write when I find excessive mold in attics and I'm wondering what you all think.

I saw signs of extensive mold beneath the roof sheathing at the north side of the attic. Mold is typically caused by trapped moisture vapor which is easily entering the attic space from the living space beneath. I recommend the attic floor be sealed/insulated with 14 inches minimum of blown in cellulose insulation to help prevent air from moving from the living space below up into the attic. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens that terminate outside of the house. Furnace humidifiers often do more harm than good if they are overused.  Consult the EPA regarding any mold remediation concerns.

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1 hour ago, Mike Lamb said:

I don't use cut and paste boiler plates but I type the same thing so many times that it is essentially the same thing. This is typically what I will write when I find excessive mold in attics and I'm wondering what you all think.

I saw signs of extensive mold beneath the roof sheathing at the north side of the attic. Mold is typically caused by trapped moisture vapor which is easily entering the attic space from the living space beneath. I recommend the attic floor be sealed/insulated with 14 inches minimum of blown in cellulose insulation to help prevent air from moving from the living space below up into the attic. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens that terminate outside of the house. Furnace humidifiers often do more harm than good if they are overused.  Consult the EPA regarding any mold remediation concerns.

I know what you are "saying", but it can be cleaned up a tad.  

I would write: (using your example)   I saw signs of mold growth on the roof sheahting at the north side of attic. Mold is typically a result of trapped moisture vapor that may be entering attic from the living space below.  I recommend the attic be properly insulated and ventilated.  Be sure exhaust fans terminate outside of the house.  Furnace humidifiers often do more harm than good when overused or improperly set.  Be sure to address cause of mold before any remediation work is done.  The EPA website has good information regarding mold and remediation. 

 

I don't like to be as specific as "14" of blown in cellulose... "  I don't like sentence #4, it makes no sense to me.

 

Remember you did ask!

 

Edited by Les

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As you've written it, the subject of the paragraph is mold. I'd rewrite it to be about moisture : 

Humid air from the house has been leaking into the attic and allowing mold to grow on the underside of the roof. Hire an energy retrofit contractor to thoroughly seal the attic floor, ensure that all exhaust fans discharge 100% to the outdoors, and provide proper attic ventilation. If the presence of mold bothers you, hire a contractor to remove it - but be aware that it'll just come back again if you don't fix the moisture issue first. 

I'd deal with insulation and humidifiers in separate notes. 

 

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On 10/25/2017 at 9:19 AM, Mike Lamb said:

I don't use cut and paste boiler plates but I type the same thing so many times that it is essentially the same thing. This is typically what I will write when I find excessive mold in attics and I'm wondering what you all think.

I saw signs of extensive mold beneath the roof sheathing at the north side of the attic. Mold is typically caused by trapped moisture vapor which is easily entering the attic space from the living space beneath. I recommend the attic floor be sealed/insulated with 14 inches minimum of blown in cellulose insulation to help prevent air from moving from the living space below up into the attic. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens that terminate outside of the house. Furnace humidifiers often do more harm than good if they are overused.  Consult the EPA regarding any mold remediation concerns.

I think you should use boiler plate content.  Why waste your time writing the same thing over and over?  I don't get that.

"I saw signs of extensive mold beneath the roof sheathing at the north side of the attic."   What signs did you see?  The mold itself?  That's not a "sign" of a problem.  That's the problem.  I think you should be more direct about what you saw.  "There's a lot of mold on the roof sheathing in the attic."

From a technical standpoint, when I see a lot of mold in the attic it's almost always caused by a particular problem and not just a general humidity issue.  Mostly it's a wet crawlspace.  So I tell my clients to fix the water problem in the house that's allowing the attic to become too humid.  I'm confident that I can usually identify what that water problem is.

I think it's great sending your client to EPA for more information about mold remediation, but isn't there a specific website that you can direct them to?

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Here's how I would describe it general. 

Significant fungi/mold growth was found below roof sheathing in attic (north side). Recommend having a qualified mold remediation contractor further evaluate, cleanup and remediate fungi/mold growth as needed.  I would list any ventilation issues or contributing factors, but not speculate.   

In your statement,  your first recommendation is to install cellulose (paper based) insulation in a moldy attic before the mold issue is addressed. That's not a good idea and is poor advice. If the mold is serious enough, the existing insulation would likely need to be removed first. Let the experts/mold contractors figure this out. 

I would stay away from recommending specific insulation depths and types. I would not direct people to EPA unless it was link to a specific web site.  

 

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1 hour ago, Trent Tarter said:

Here's how I would describe it general. 

Significant fungi/mold growth was found below roof sheathing in attic (north side). Recommend having a qualified mold remediation contractor further evaluate, cleanup and remediate fungi/mold growth as needed.  I would list any ventilation issues or contributing factors, but not speculate.   

In your statement,  your first recommendation is to install cellulose (paper based) insulation in a moldy attic before the mold issue is addressed. That's not a good idea and is poor advice. If the mold is serious enough, the existing insulation would likely need to be removed first. Let the experts/mold contractors figure this out. 

I would stay away from recommending specific insulation depths and types. I would not direct people to EPA unless it was link to a specific web site.  

 

I've never said to a client that they should recommend something.  I do the recommending myself.

'Course you know what I mean.  It's just an error in grammar that so many HIs get wrong.

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16 minutes ago, Erby said:

Ah yes, that dreaded "further evaluate".  

That too.  What I meant is that the 'I' is missing at the beginning of the sentence, otherwise you're not recommending something, you're telling the client to recommend something.

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3 hours ago, Marc said:

That too.  What I meant is that the 'I' is missing at the beginning of the sentence, otherwise you're not recommending something, you're telling the client to recommend something.

1

It's a pox built into the very DNA of most inspectors. Or, perhaps, some natural law compels home inspectors to abandon whatever they once knew about composing basic sentences. 

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I am always looking at ways to write a better report. I have not giving it much thought as to why I leave out "I" and simply start with Recommend. I guess it's because people know what I am talking about. I look report writing as more of a technical writing format that's not the same as typical grammar.  I try not to overuse use the term "further evaluate". However, I feel it's the best term to use in many cases. I am open to new ideas if someone's got a good replacement for "further evaluate".      

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32 minutes ago, Trent Tarter said:

I am always looking at ways to write a better report. I have not giving it much thought as to why I leave out "I" and simply start with Recommend. I guess it's because people know what I am talking about. I look report writing as more of a technical writing format that's not the same as typical grammar.  I try not to overuse use the term "further evaluate". However, I feel it's the best term to use in many cases. I am open to new ideas if someone's got a good replacement for "further evaluate".      

Am always looking at ways to write a better report. Have not giving it much thought as to why I leave out "I" and simply start with Recommend. Guess it's because people know what I am talking about. Look report writing as more of a technical writing format that's not the same as typical grammar.  Try not to overuse use the term "further evaluate". However, feel it's the best term to use in many cases. Am open to new ideas if someone's got a good replacement for "further evaluate".      

I took the liberty of revising your paragraph; it's in italics above, leaving out the first word of each sentence (the "I").  IMHO, it does not sound technical. 

That said, I used to be guilty of same when I first started.  Not sure why; maybe I just wanted to sound important.

Edited by Jerry Simon

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I was taught (30+ years ago) to write reports without referencing myself as being the one that conducted the inspection.  There was no reason, it's just  what everyone did.  It continued until I started getting really good advice and examples here at TIJ.

"I am open to new ideas if someone's got a good replacement for "further evaluate".

Don't replace it, eliminate it.    Jim K. posted a perfect example. 

"If the presence of mold bothers you, hire a contractor to remove it - but be aware that it'll just come back again if you don't fix the moisture issue first".

No kicking the can, no reference to mold is gold scam artists.  No perpetuating the myths.

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2 hours ago, Trent Tarter said:

I am always looking at ways to write a better report. I have not giving it much thought as to why I leave out "I" and simply start with Recommend. I guess it's because people know what I am talking about.

1

That's the same tired defense that everyone tries to hide behind when people point out that they're writing things wrong. With what we do, it's not good enough to assume that someone can figure out what you're trying to say. The most fundamental rule of home inspection report writing is to make your report impossible to misunderstand. You can't do that by sounding like Chief Wild Eagle from F Troop. 

2 hours ago, Trent Tarter said:

I look report writing as more of a technical writing format that's not the same as typical grammar. 

Well, then you're looking at it wrong. Our job is to clearly explain things to ordinary people. If you're going to do that with writing in English, then leaving out words and abandoning "typical" grammar (whatever that is) is not the best way to do that. If you want to use another method of communication - like pictures & captions or videos, then that's fine. Figure out the "grammar" that makes those things work. But if you're writing in English, you need to use grammar or your meaning flys out the window.  

2 hours ago, Trent Tarter said:

I try not to overuse use the term "further evaluate". However, I feel it's the best term to use in many cases. I am open to new ideas if someone's got a good replacement for "further evaluate".

"Further evaluate" has two problems. The first is that it's not always clear. In a lot of cases, telling people to further evaluate something leaves them scratching their heads. You know what you mean, but they often don't. Just drill down to the next level and tell them what you mean by it. For example, "I don't know much about this kind of widget. Hire a widget contractor to tell you what to do about it." The second problem is that way too many inspectors use "further evaluate" as a crutch to avoid legwork. They're just too lazy to actually check out the widget or write about it even when they know how, so "further evaluate" just flies out of their mouths like bad milk. 

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We all want to write inspection reports that our clients can read and understand. Most of us believe our writing is somewhere between adequate and great. If you want to test yourself, enroll at your local community college and take English 101. I did and that course completely changed the way I approach writing anything. The whole experience really helped me personally, and at the end of it I realized I had a lot of fun taking the course. I try to fit in one course in an area of interest to me each semester now. 

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I've an easier way.  Take a long paragraph from your most recent report and read it, revise it a dozen times over a period of a couple weeks, taking breaks to read posts by Jim K, Les, and the Jim Morrison archives.  It takes time. Took me years to get where I am now and after reading Jim's recent post, I still ain't there yet.

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On 10/28/2017 at 6:53 PM, Jim Katen said:

That's the same tired defense that everyone tries to hide behind when people point out that they're writing things wrong. With what we do, it's not good enough to assume that someone can figure out what you're trying to say. The most fundamental rule of home inspection report writing is to make your report impossible to misunderstand. You can't do that by sounding like Chief Wild Eagle from F Troop. 

Well, then you're looking at it wrong. Our job is to clearly explain things to ordinary people. If you're going to do that with writing in English, then leaving out words and abandoning "typical" grammar (whatever that is) is not the best way to do that. If you want to use another method of communication - like pictures & captions or videos, then that's fine. Figure out the "grammar" that makes those things work. But if you're writing in English, you need to use grammar or your meaning flys out the window.  

"Further evaluate" has two problems. The first is that it's not always clear. In a lot of cases, telling people to further evaluate something leaves them scratching their heads. You know what you mean, but they often don't. Just drill down to the next level and tell them what you mean by it. For example, "I don't know much about this kind of widget. Hire a widget contractor to tell you what to do about it." The second problem is that way too many inspectors use "further evaluate" as a crutch to avoid legwork. They're just too lazy to actually check out the widget or write about it even when they know how, so "further evaluate" just flies out of their mouths like bad milk. 

Jim's post is worth reading again.  Maybe the best post of the year.  

I like Bill K's post too.

"bad milk" took me to Walter Jower's writing and reminds me how much I miss him. 

 

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