Should I consider a home with possible water / mold problem?

Asked by CyberSimba, Boston, MA Tue Jan 6, 2009

Happy New Year Everyone! We are considering a property in a semi rural suburb 15 mi from Boston. Property has drainage easement under ground on its left border. It seems the water from streets collects and is carried by easement to the back of the property (backside border is 10 feet deeper than property level). The property land is HUGE - 29000 sq ft.
1. The water accumulates on its backside border in case of rain or storms.
2. Property has had mold remediation in its attic in last 1.5 yrs. This was supposedly due to faulty humidifaction system.
3. Property also has a dirt (dirt invites possibility of moisture being carried upwards as per our agent) crawl space (not a basement though)

Our main concern is "Does the water accumulation have negative effect on property via either
water slowly sipping through yard over years or via mosquitoes in summer or any how" AND "Does the fact that mold remediation had been done has any negetive effect on property, too?"

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Jeff, , Virginia Beach, VA
Wed Jan 7, 2009
In response to Bill, no mold remediation would ever be warrantied.

It would be analagous to a body shop warrantying you will never crash your car again after a repair. Mold is a symptom of another problem, excessive moisture.
1 vote
Ken Lambert, , Exeter, NH
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Hello Cyber- I've answered similar questions on trulia in the past. I would agree in general with the last answer. We get involved with all this when there are dozens of similar homes available that don't have these kind of unanswered questions.
That said, most of the terrible/ nightmare tear-down situations involve something called toxic mold or also called black mold. "Most" types of mold found in houses- especially up in New England- are not that type. Only a qualified mold expert can test the mold and determine if it is or not.
However, even with regular mold, it can still be a health hazard. Especially with the people the other person mentioned- infants, elderly, those with allergies and asthma, etc.
The fact a house has mold in it is not a hazardous problem. To some extent, every house has mold in it. Mold, and its spores, are everywhere on earth. I think many people get overly scared when they just hear the word mold.
Hope that helps to some extent in giving you some perspective. I am also a licensed builder and have had to deal with this circumstance a few times. Thanks, and good luck,

Ken L.
1 vote
William Brok…, Agent, Jamaica Plain, MA
Tue Jan 6, 2009
This is a very difficult question to answer without seeing the property with ones own eyes. However, in my experience working as a Realtor in Jamaica Plain, MA where the real estate is often quite old (100+) many moisture issues can be easily rectified with a little planning and effort. We have a lot of dry stone foundations and even dirt floors here. In addition, the density is often such that it is difficult for drainage to take place naturally, not to mention all the crazy things people do to mess things up for their neighbors like completely paving their property.

My thoughts are that it all depends on the deal you're getting. Almost any dampness issues can be cured with proper ventilation and landscaping. Get someone to get out there and make sure the grade is fixed and channel the water . Also, you could dig a dry well and fill it with gravel. Channel the water into it. Then the water goes underground and there's no standing water for breeding mosquitoes. Use the extra soil and create some interesting berms or character on other parts of the 3/4 of an acre.

Landscaping doesn't have to cost a fortune. You just have to find the right person to do the contouring. I have done a lot of work with Treeworks here in Boston.
1 vote
Ronn Huth, Agent, Wenham, MA
Tue Jan 6, 2009
Hello Cyber Simba,

The questions you are asking are best asked of a home inspector. I have seen instances where mold issues ended with the property having to be torn down and I have seen homes where mold remediation worked quite well.

One of the things a good buyer's agent would do for you is to put you in touch with experts who can give specific answers to your questions. It would place a lot of liability on the shoulders of a real estate agent to answer these questions for you.

You might find this link on my website to be helpful…

Good luck with your purchase decision.

Ronn Huth 800 25 BUYER
1 vote
Jeff, , Virginia Beach, VA
Wed Mar 11, 2009
Jame Gumb never complained about the water and mold problem in his basement.
0 votes
Sarah Anders…, Agent, Charlestown, MA
Tue Mar 10, 2009
Hello CS,

You should check with the Department of Public Works and get their take on the matter. Walk or drive around the area and see if you can find a local to ask about Spring and storm conditions. Check with the sellers and request a property disclosure form on the easement.

Blind call a couple of other agencies and speak with an agent on duty. The locals will usually have some info.

As far as remediation for mold in the attic, a leaky roof or old flashing around a chimney can get a mold colony growing in no time. Have your home inpspector use a moisture meter to test the entire area. If the leak was fixed and thus no moisture getting in, then you are probably okay from the roof side. If there is a "musty" smell to the attic or obvious signs of growing mold that's another story. Ask for the sellers remediation report and call the company that did the work to understand the scope of their project.

The most alarming to me is that the house only has a crawl space and not a basement. Is it a concrete block foundation? You can lay moisture barriers to block wetness from seeping up under the house to some extent. But have your inspector check the integrity of the sills and any wood that has been left exposed under there. Sounds like you could have a super easy way for carpenter ants and termites to attack your house.

It has a lot going against it but if the place is one of a kind on a very special parcel it may be worth it to you.

Choose wisely!

0 votes
Doug Francis, Agent, McLean, VA
Tue Mar 10, 2009
You have too many concerns and, if you were my client, then we would keep on looking. There are tons of choices out there so don't inherit someone's long time problem thinking you can fix it with a little effort. Move on, my friend!
-doug francis, ABR
0 votes
Jeff, , Virginia Beach, VA
Wed Jan 7, 2009
In my area, realtors would consider that waterfront property (Im only barely kidding).

1. The outside drainage pattern does not sound to have any effect on the actual structures conditions.

2. A mold remediation indicates a fairly serious problem was detected and remediated, in almost all cases. First a mold investigation was conducted by a consultant consisting of indoor and outdoor spore trap samples and affected area wipe samples (get the report). That report report recommended further activity, corrective actions for the moisture problem and the remediation. After the remediation, further sampling was completed and another final report would be issued (get that one too). If they are not forthcoming on the reports, they are hiding something.

Depending on what the reports say, this is a suspect property. I would certainly expect a significant discount. I also would not take a chance on this property is you have any compromised health individuals living there (young, old or sick).
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Wed Jan 7, 2009

Our recommendation is for you to do a little "detective work." If you can access the name of the mold remediation company they will be able to provide information that may clarify this picture for you. Possible question to process with them are:

1. What was the nature of work done?

2. Did they encounter other possible difficulties when remediating the problem?

3. Is their work warranted?

4. Can this warranty be transferred to new owners and/or extented?

5. In their opinion, what was the cause of this mold problem? Could it return?

Additionally, you may want to consider being in touch with the area public works department to discuss the drainage issue. It is not normal for water which collects on a public domain to drain to private property. This may need to be brought to their attention.

Good luck
The Eckler Team
0 votes
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