I am considering purchasing a condo in Massachusetts. I am supposed to sign
the P&S tomorrow. There are *four* units in this building. My unit is on
one end, and there was a plumbing leak in the unit on the other end (ie
there are 2 units between my unit and the plumbing leak unit).
The plumbing leak caused mold to form in that other unit. The buyer could
never move in, and there is a lawsuit pending.
My inspector said everything looks fine in my unit, but I did not call his
attention to the issue of mold, because the seller had not told me about it.
This leads to some questions I hope you will help me with. Thanks...
1) Should I test for mold in the condo I want to buy?
2) Could the mold from that other end unit affect my condo?
3) Would you suggest I hold off on signing the P&S?
A number of TV news shows outlined the dangers of mold a few years back.
Some of it's pretty nasty. If I were you, I would NOT sign on the dotted
line until you contact your local health department and find out how to do a
PLEASE LET ME KNOW
how would a person get information on what mold can kill you...
I found some on the back of my cupboard strange by the garage door within
1 foot of the door opening I also have energy panels ...
can anyone explain this..
Do some GOOGLE searching. Tens of thousands of hits.
A few which may start you:
I've just bought a place in CA (but come from MA originally), and went
through this issue. It's um, interesting. Lots of mass hysteria out
there. Not to say there aren't problems; but ... it's this decade's
That's a good sign. Not the final word, but a good sign.
Sure, why not? It'll cost you a few hundred $$, but a *quantitative*
answer (like counts of spores per cubic meter) is a solid one. Two
-- Make sure the company you use for inspection *DOES NOT* offer "mold
remediation" services ... they are self-serving at the very least, and
are likely to "recommmend" work whether it's really needed or not.
Kinda like that "ceiling delamination" thread a few days back. Do look
for a company that uses Air-O-Cell cassettes and strips.
-- Do your own independent research. Understand that mold is a
byproduct of a leak - and the real problem is the leak, not the mold,
despite all the hysteria around mold. Know that there are *no* EPA
standards on mold - and thus anyone else's standards are their own
imagination. Know that "mold inspectors" are just normal folks who've
taken a weekend course - they do not have PhDs in microbiology. Their
common sense is as good as yours.
-- A really, really good source of information:
http://www.bsu.edu/web/ien/search.htm (search for mold). There are
many "mold information" sites out there, looking only to make $$ from
It sounds unlikely, but we can't say from here of course.
If you're concerned enough, sure, or make the sale contingent upon the
mold findings. The sellers should be as concerned about this as you -
they don't want to be sued later. Perhaps they'd split the inspection
costs with you, even.
Oh my god...think of those millions who bought homes over the last 50 years
alone who didn't know the horrors of....mold!! And don't even mention
Ignorance may not be bliss....but over exposure to information can breed
hysteria (which is worse than all the mold ever discovered.)!
Amen. I'd imagine there's been leaks ever since ... oh say the
invention of plumbing. Shall we raze the White House, "just to be
I think the hysteria is the result of overactive imaginations and an
under-sized problem. IE, there are certainly microscopic amounts of
mold *everywhere* (and you can always measure *some*); and it's easy to
scare people about something they can't see. That's where imaginations
Seems obvious to me, that if you can see a bunch of mold, well, CLEAN IT
(and more importantly, fix the leak)! If you can't see it, and are
still worried, go see a therapist.
But that's just my opinion, and opinions are like ...
Hey, I was working at a hospital doing maintenance work. There was a
secluded closet for contaminated garbage storage, and there was a sink
in there to wash hands after touching this garbage. The sink was
leaking for months, if not longer, before someone mentioned it to my
boss, who told me to check it out. I found a drain pipe with a hole
in it, and discovered that I would have to rip open the wall to remove
the entire section of steel pipe which was rusted out. When I opened
the wall, I found thick black mold all over the inside of that wall.
I obtained a mask, knowing that I have alergies, and began tearing the
wall apart. The boss came in there and asked why I was tearing the
whole wall apart. I explained that it was all mold, and since I had
ripped apart part of the wall anyhow, I may as well just replace that
whole section. I mentioned that from what I know, black mold can
cause health problems, and it made no sense to leave it there, being
it is a hospital, and went on to explain that it was actually easier
to replace the whole wall section with a full sheet of sheetrock, than
to patch the old one together. His reply was "do what you must", and
he walked away. The next morning when I arrived at work, I was
terminated. The reason was "not complying with my job duties". The
REAL reason I was fired, was because I mentioned the health hazzard of
that mold. I am currently going to court over this.
The funny thing about all of this is that I was really only mentioning
the mold as a possible health risk, and trying to make my job easier
at the same time. I have already tried to spakle over mold and
mildew. It dont hold, or soon comes back as mold. It would have cost
them at least 3 gallons of spakle and tape, 1/2 sheet of sheetrock,
and many hours of wages. My intent was to replace one whole sheet of
sheetrock, and only use less than one gallon of spackle, which would
have required less than used half the wages (my time) to repair, and
in the end saved them at least $50, possibly over $100, if I had to go
back and re-do the spakle for not adhering. Not only that, but the
mold would still be in that wall. But, you see, I "knew too much". I
should just keep my mouth shut, and do my work, and never mention a
"health risk". Thus, they fired me.....
If you reach a settlement watch out for Alternate minimum tax. Under the
amt, legal fees are not deductible from your award of loss wages and
possible other damages involved when sueing an employer. So pay taxes on the
1/3 you pay your lawyer. Possible way to avoid it..... and I don't know
for sure.... is if they pay your lawyer. Ask your lawyer to look it up and
tell him any settlement has to avoid taxes on his fee or you won't sign.
Really good advice, Julie
Additionally, mold typically only survives when the moisture problem
continues. This is a flag that may need further investigation: does
the condo have other moisture problems, perhaps in crawlspaces or
indications of subterranean standing water?
In my area, there's no hope of getting a contingency for anything.
Usually there are multiple bidders on each property, so depending on
your situation, you may or may not be able to get the sellers to
But if you can, do it!
How do you KNOW it was a plumbing leak. There have been thousands (yes,
thousands) of major roof/flashing/stucco/wall leaks in condos over the last
10+ years in North America with damages running into the tens of thousands
per EACH unit. Often such damage only manifests itself after the building
has been "up" for several years (long enough for the New Homeowners
Warranty to have expired) Some folks have had to double their original
mortgage to pay for damage repairs because they couldnt sell such a unit.
Some couldnt afford to pay for repairs and walked away on their investment.
In a condo building, its usual for ALL the owners to have to pay as the
damage is ofter in outer walls which are "common areas". (Google for "leaky
condos"). I m not saying that this is the case in your situation...but what
if it is ? Be very careful.
If the siding is synthetic stucco I would definitely stay away. Even brick
structures which are poorly flashed and with poor quality or non-existing
ties are risky to buy. The masonry quality in NC for example is terrible.
People think if the brick is straight it is a good job. They have no idea
how important flashing and walll ties are.
Probably has no direct effect on your unit, BUT............
I'll wager pretty good odds that the stigma will affect the
unit's resale price forever.
Check out this link:
It's not directly relevant to your situation,
but it outlines the horrors that some apt dwellers have gone thru.
Have you seen the mold in the other unit to have an idea of the scope of the
issue. Could be serious or could be dumb. You need to see it for yourself
and since it might affect your unit the condo covenent should provide that
right. If not I would walk.
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