As a result of lack of regulation, the majority of mold inspectors and remediators are not properly certified, trained or experienced to provide adequate mold services that they are selling. Most of these inspectors and remediators have completed a one day or two day class, and say they are certified based on a class attendance certificate. Their primary goal is to make money, rather than provide a high level of service.
THE CONSUMER MUST BEWARE.
As a nationally recognized expert in property and mold investigations, I have reviewed several other mold inspection company reports and remediation plans that lack current industry standards. Many of these inspectors and remediators have been referred by real estate agents, that are not aware of recommended certifications and experience required of a competent mold inspector or remediator.
Here are some tips on making sure your mold inspection company is properly qualified.
1. What should a mold inspection cover?
The inspector should ensure that their inspection and inspection report will meet all applicable standards of a mold inspection: This typically includes a visual inspection of all accessible areas, moisture meter testing, and relative humidity measurements. It may or may not include thermal imaging, photos and a scope of work to explain how to stop the mold and remove the mold safely. In addition, your inspector should also be experienced in other indoor air quality issues that may be a potential health problems: Radon, allergens, VOC’s, lead and asbestos. You should be able to request and see a copy of a sample report ahead of time and ask any questions you may have. If there are any areas you want to make sure are inspected, be sure to identify them upfront.
2. State of the Art Mold Testing:
Current state of the art mold testing should be available for your consideration; such as DNA analysis of the property condition e.g. the Environmental Relative Mold Index (ERMI), that has been in field for more than 10 years. The cost of this test has been decreased to the point that it is similar to the older and the less reliable approach of air testing. Recent research has also determined that even the best mold inspectors miss 52% of mold problems without the ERMI test. If your mold inspector is not familiar or negative about the ERMI, or other advanced DNA mold based testing techniques, this should be a warning sign to you.
Note that do it yourself mold tests sold at retailers or on-line are not valid or reliable.
3. Experience in the mold inspection profession.
The inspector should be able to provide his or her history in the profession and perhaps even a few names as referrals. This is a profession where experience counts; mold investigation is an ongoing scientific work in progress.
4. Offer to do Repairs or remediation based on the inspection.
This is considered at code of ethics violation to offer both inspection and mold remediation. Your inspector should only inspect, that way there is no incentive to find a problem. If you want a referral from the inspector for a remediation company to remove the mold, make sure there is no formal business relationship or kick back.
Costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size and age of the project site, scope of services and other factors. Consider the value of the inspection in terms of the investment being made and or health concerns. Cost does not necessarily reflect quality. Free does not mean free, since these inspections are performed by remediation companies who will up charge on the repair end, or charge high prices for unneeded mold testing.
6. The inspection report.
Ask to see report samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector’s reporting style and if the time parameters fulfill your needs. Most inspectors provide their full report within 24-72 hours of the inspection or lab sample results.
7. Attend the inspection.
This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal to allow this should raise a red flag. Never pass up this opportunity to see indoor air quality issues through the eyes of an expert.
8. Certification in Mold Investigation.
There are many questionable “certifications” for mold inspectors. The only nationally recognized true certification group is ACAC; visit http://www.acac.org to verify that your inspector is a properly certified. My experience in California indicates that the overwhelming majority of mold inspectors are not ACAC certified and are poorly trained and qualified for the work they are offering; buyer beware; there is no license or government over site of inspectors or remediators.
9. Continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date.
One can never know it all, and the inspector’s commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his or her professionalism and service to the consumer. This is especially important in cases that involve health concerns. For example the ACAC certification requires at least 40 hours of approved education every 24 months.