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MOLD, a short editorial


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Is anyone else out there curious and mildly offended that the allied trades of mold sampling, testing, remediation, and EDUCATION are being usurped by non-medical professionals?

I know several medical professionals, a couple of them mycologists (those who study fungi specifically), who are amazed and horrified that this possibly serious health concern is being plied by individuals w/no health care training whatsoever, i.e., home inspectors.

These are folks who have spent their entire professional lives attempting to understand the health effects of mold. They don't understand it yet; how is it that those pushing the mold agenda on the HI profession think we are supposed to understand it?

Why aren't the mold trades pushing this to the medical & health care professionals? Why do they think that home inspection, which doesn't even require a GED to practice for Gods sake, is a vehicle for disseminating useful health care advice to the public?

Benjamins. It's about the Benjamins. If one looks for a bunch of HI's willing to provide add-on services, one will find a bunch of HI's willing to talk about things they know little or nothing about for a fee.

If those flogging mold services were concerned w/public health, they'd be pushing this to public health officials, medical schools, legislators, school systems, and the like that have a chance @ making a difference.

By flogging this to a profession completely unrelated to health care, they expose themselves as being less concerned about public health as they are w/the business trade services they promote.

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I also don't like that the HI's who are products of this 'education' prey on people's fears.

I was in homes with 100% 'covered in mold' walls and ceilings (Katrina volunteer). There were about 20 of us at one site. The mold bothered nobody aside from some sneezing.

I'm not discounting the very real reaction a handful of people have to mold, but the HI's getting this training are not qualified to help. The only green slime they are concerned about is the undeserved Benjamins. So, ask me how I really feel.

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Well, duh.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Care to elaborate, or are we being derisive?

Inasmuch as TIJ is visited by increasingly large number's of HI's, I think it's necessary to keep up w/the continued assault by the mold folks.

For those not familiar w/DDMG, which is just about everyone, promoting the idea that HI work doesn't jibe w/complex health counseling is kinda important.

Or, should I consider myself incredibly dense by stating (what should be) the obvious?

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While I agree with Kurt and nearly 100% of what has been posted, I strongly disagree with the cheap shot at the attorney/lawyer.

It is all about money, but not all about lawyers. I must recall the insurance salesperson turned inspector (10days of intensive training) that attended a 6 hour class in New Mexico and became a certified mold expert. I told him and his wife they were making a huge mistake (I proctored the class)and stop by the office when they got back to Michigan and I would elaborate. Today he and his wife are bankrupt and no longer in the inspection business. He made exactly $2645 from mold testing before getting his pxxpxx whacked!

Do what you want - me and mine are still learning how to do simple inspections!

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Certain molds are a serious problem for certain people; no doubt. I can even believe that some molds are not good for humans in general, but the idea that virtually any amount of any mold is a catastrophic disaster is miles beyond absurd. Along with the greedy or merely misguided folks who are helping to fuel this fraud, I also blame the increasing number of neurotic idiots in American society. Way too many people are growing up and living their entire lives not simply disconnected from nature, but isolated from it and fearful of it.

Brian G.

I Ain't Afraid Of Mold...Fry It Up & I'll Eat It [:P]

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Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Jim Katen

Well, duh.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Care to elaborate, or are we being derisive?

I wholeheartedly agree with your original post. If anything, I think you were too gentle. For me though, it's a subject that's been discussed to death.

Inasmuch as TIJ is visited by increasingly large number's of HI's, I think it's necessary to keep up w/the continued assault by the mold folks.

Yes. You're right. It's just that the whole subject gives me a stomachache and I find it difficult to respond to the fools without resorting to pejorative language.

For those not familiar w/DDMG, which is just about everyone, promoting the idea that HI work doesn't jibe w/complex health counseling is kinda important.

I was one of the first to rail against the moldies but I've begun to grow weary of the battle. Maybe I've developed an allergy to it.

Or, should I consider myself incredibly dense by stating (what should be) the obvious?

Here's the problem. To effectively argue this point, you'll eventually need to expose the idiots for the venal morons that they are. For some reason, this will hurt their feelings and they'll get all huffy. From there, the conversation will spiral downhill into a tedious competition of testosterone-based, chest thumping verbal warfare.

The whole thing gives me a stomachache and the issue never gets resolved.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Well, thanks for responding, but none of what you've described has occurred. The general response is total agreement from those that post, and one hopes that those that don't post/lurk, will get the idea before they decide anything.

IOW, all that's necessary for things to get stupider than they already are is to stay silent on the topic and let the venal morons get all the press.

I don't like flogging horses anymore than you, but this one ain't dead yet, and it keeps finding new legs.

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Well, thanks for responding, but none of what you've described has occurred. The general response is total agreement from those that post, and one hopes that those that don't post/lurk, will get the idea before they decide anything.

Try the question at any other HI gathering place. The response will be different and feathers will be ruffled. Like Mr. Katen, I've come to the conclusion that it's quite fruitless to communicate ethics to a crowd that speaks a different language.

The fact is, people make money on mold and they don't see anything wrong with it because it's legal. There isn't anything anyone can say that will make them feel differently.

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

Try the question at any other HI gathering place. The response will be different and feathers will be ruffled. Like Mr. Katen, I've come to the conclusion that it's quite fruitless to communicate ethics to a crowd that speaks a different language.

Which is why I avoid HI gatherings in general. Nightmarish. Although, I do derive a certain pleasure out of leading the mopes in logic exercises where they arrive @ the realization they're morons without me saying such.

Those that are already involved I don't worry about; they'll do the damage and be happy about it. Those that might have a shred of intelligence & ethics could see the other side if they're exposed to it.

Someday when it all comes out on the other side (it is going to come out on the other side, isn't it?), maybe I'll get a warm fuzzy feeling.

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A little more thread drift;

I have noticed that many, I would say about half (15-20) of the chapter members in my new ASHI chapter in Middle TN are testing for mold. But on the other hand those same folks are participating in the Brinks program as well! I voiced my opposition to both, pointed out several ethical issue and it was like talking to a wall. I also noticed that several of these same folks are also members of Nicks club. On the other hand the chapter has a few shining stars, and maybe just maybe I can effect some changes in the future if I keep pointing out the problems with Mold and Brinks.

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Want to help stop the madness?

Start spreading the word. For at least 7 years now when I brief the pre-inspection document to my clients, I've been telling them:

"Reference this "toxic" mold clause, you have to understand something. There is NO SUCH THING as toxic mold - that's a made-up media term. There is mold or fungi and some people have allergies to it. Just as peanuts and penicillin can be "toxic" to those who are allergic to them, some molds can be toxic for certain people. Living here in western Washington in this very spore-rich environment you should already know whether or not you are allergic to mold, because it's in 100% of the air we breath here and we're surrounded by it.

That's why I won't be looking for mold during your inspection. I'll be looking for water intrusion issues or poor ventilation issues that are liable to lead to mold growth. Where you find those, you can sometimes find mold. If I find any such issues, I'll make you as smart about them as I can, but it will be up to you to decide what YOU want to do about it. I won't be taking any mold samples and carrying them off to a lab, because that's the business of those who are qualified to address mold issues. If you know that you're already allergic to mold, it would behoove you to have any suspected mold checked out by a reputable indoor air quality firm, that can assess the degree of infestation and determine whether anything beyond simple cleaning is needed to get rid of the substance.

I caution you, should you decide to hire someone to deal with any suspected mold that's found, DO NOT HIRE ONE OF ME. Any home inspector who claims to also be a mold inspector will take your money to tell you something that you already know, namely, that there's already mold in this house. If the EPA and the CDC, after years of study, still can't figure out mold, any home inspector who's taken a 3-day seminar and is bent on making some extra bucks by testing for mold in an already mold-rich environment, is just stealing your money. I'm certain your smart enough to figure that out."

Works for me. If I end up finding any mold, it's their baby to deal with, or not to deal with, and they very clearly understand that. If they should happen to ask for the name of a reputable indoor air quality firm, I provide them one or two names of labs that I know are reputable and have been around for decades.

My customers are spreading the word. More than once, when I've been going over the pre-inspection terms with clients and have gotten to the mold clause and have begun my spiel, they'll interrupt me to say something like, "Yeah, I know about the mold thing. So-and-so, who referred me to you, told me all about that after you did his inspection."

If we all did that, the word would eventually reach every consumer and the market for home inspectors to make money doing mold inspections would dry up and be left to the professionals where it belongs.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If mold was a recent blight visited on mankind I could understand the frenzy to get rich quick dilemma we face. However it has been with us from the beginning of time so why the recent activity to rid humanity of something that will be here long after humanity has departed. I really do think it is a $$$ thing[^]. Experts including the EPA say that only a small percentage of people are affected by mold and these people are subject to allergies anyway. There are doctors called allergists to treat these people.

Of course there are structures that have unacceptable mold concentrations but they are almost always caused by a moisture problem that allows the mold to propagate beyond normal. I have actually sat in an ASHI continuing meeting and listened to a "mold expert" say he gets paid $30 to $40 thousand to rid the crawl space of mold???. One could say insurance pays for it as he did but that is a fallacy. The public pays for it thru increased premiums.

Summation:

Could it be that a vast number of people think mold is a recent visitation on the planet earth or is it a $$$ thing. Knowing human nature I tend to think it is a $$$ frenzy thing.

Paul B.

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Yeah,

Brand new house yesterday. The potential new owner won't have his walk-through with the builder until this Wednesday. Went into the crawlspace and found leopard-spotting about every 6 - 8 ft. Pulled back the insulation and found more of it spread to the undersides of the joists. Nothing huge, it's clear from the amount of wood debris left beneath the barrier that the poorly-applied barrier wasn't put down until well after the building was dried in and the vents wouldn't have been cut until it was sided. Plenty long enough, during the wettest fall/winter on record, to have started a few colonies going.

The client will be calling a local indoor air quality firm that's been around for 3-decades on Monday morning, so they can figure out what to do about it. Then the builder will be presented with the IAQ firms report and told to "fix" it or he's walking - not because he's afraid of the mold boog-a-boo, but because he knows that it'll screw up any future sale of the home if it isn't dealt with right now.

I know for a fact that particular lab probably won't even test the stuff to determine what variety of mold it is, because there won't be any need for testing - it's mold, it should be removed, nuff said. They'll simply come up with a plan for removal and will be willing to oversee the removal process for a fee.

Home inspecting boy is in the clear.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Scottpat

A little more thread drift;

I have noticed that many, I would say about half (15-20) of the chapter members in my new ASHI chapter in Middle TN are testing for mold. But on the other hand those same folks are participating in the Brinks program as well! I voiced my opposition to both, pointed out several ethical issue and it was like talking to a wall. I also noticed that several of these same folks are also members of Nicks club. On the other hand the chapter has a few shining stars, and maybe just maybe I can effect some changes in the future if I keep pointing out the problems with Mold and Brinks.

Further thread drift

Scott,

I agree completely about both Brinks and mold. That is why I was scratching my head when I opened my new member package from ASHI last week and the biggest, brightest and most prominent brochure in the box was from Brinks. I found this surprising and dissapointing. After two years in the business, weighing the relative merits and liabilities of the various HI groups I decided to cast my lot with ASHI and my first mailing includes promo material for a program that seems to run contrary to ASHI's mission and standards . I only bring this up here and now because of your comments regarding Nicks group and the Brinks program. I know you are a national player in ASHI, and I wonder if you knew of our (ASHI's) involvement (and defacto endorsement) of the Brinks program.

Best regards

Tim

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I did not know that it was in the new member packet.

Now with that said, which Brinks program is it. One program was cleared by the the ASHI ethics committee. The one that gives you a $15 kickback is the one that is not ethical. The one that gives the homeowner a limited home warranty is OK as the inspector does not get anything out of it. Still, I want to stay away from them all.

If my client wants the alarm inspected, I recommend that they contact the company that the homeowner is using.

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Originally posted by Scottpat

I did not know that it was in the new member packet.

Now with that said, which Brinks program is it. One program was cleared by the the ASHI ethics committee. The one that gives you a $15 kickback is the one that is not ethical. The one that gives the homeowner a limited home warranty is OK as the inspector does not get anything out of it. Still, I want to stay away from them all.

If my client wants the alarm inspected, I recommend that they contact the company that the homeowner is using.

It is the AHW program. Not unethical I suppose, but not for me.

Tim

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The thing that really ticks me off is knowing that a client spending an extra $150-300 for "mold testing" would almost always get a *much* higher payback spending the same to have their inspector on site for an extra 30-45 min and then writing a somewhat better report.

But then, I'm becoming increasingly convinced - especially as I see a lot of older homes layered with generations of modifications and updates - that the marketing niche I want to occupy is "One inspection a day, done right".

Meanwhile as for mold testing itself, I keep a copy of the contract from one of the larger outfits handy, and point out to clients the fine print at the end of the fancy three-color fourteen-page computer- generated screed where the lab disclaims the use of the report to evaluate health risks.

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  • 4 months later...

I recently had an experience with a Home Inspector (HI) and it was horrible. His inspection at best was cursory and he then said the roof was too tall for him to safely climb up and check on it. did that stop him from wanting a hefty fee and throwing a Waiver/Disclaimer document at me to sign? No. Unbelievable!!!!

anyone who uses an HI and signs that Waiver/Disclaimer is absolutely throwing his money away.

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Robert, or George, or whoever you are, It's unfortunate you had a bad experience, but don't bash the entire profession. If a doctor mis-diagnoses you or overcharges you, is the entire medical profession at fault?

The "Waiver/Disclaimer" as you call it is an inspection agreement intended to inform you of the limitations of the inspection. It should have been read and signed before the inspection, not after.

If you are unhappy with the quality of the inspection, you should demand a refund. If your state has a licensing board, you can take it up with them if you cannot get satisfaction from the inspector.

I think if you bother to read through some of the posts in this forum, you will see that most of us are dedicated to our client and to our job.

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