The other day my client and I encountered a cottage that had a severe mould problem. The house was built in 1976 and is a log type construction with a poured foundation. The owner had passed away and the house lay empty for several years. Under the house there was a whole bunch of stored wood that was accumulating moisture and growing white mould. Also, the roof was leaking which led to more mould in the house. My client who is a building inspector knew the structure of the house was still in great shape; however the mould seemed to be the question. Was it possible just to take the rotting wood out and clean up the mould and start the renovations right away? Was it safe? Would the mould be gone and not be a problem in the future?

After doing some research it was advised that extreme caution should be exercised when attempting to clean up a major mould problem. In fact, all the sites I read and professionals I talked to, counselled against doing it yourself. Disturbing mould by touching, scrubbing and drying out could result in the spores aerosolizing and becoming part of the breathable air. This may cause ingestion and inhalation of potentially toxic mould spores which could lead to a variety of serious health effects.

What most of the companies do if it is a serious problem:

After a full analysis, the professionals sanction off the rest of the house with plastic barriers. They wear full-face respirators, disposable suits, and use specialized equipment and ventilators to remove what is necessary. It is very important to minimize aerosolization of mould spores and to ensure that the contamination does not spread to other parts of the building.

Is my client going to buy the house with the mould problem? Is it worth it? Well that depends on the price he buys it for and all the costs and time involved. The problem with buying a house with a mould problem is that you can only see what is on the surface. Unless the owner is willing to let someone start opening up walls and other parts of the house, it may not be worth the “unknown” future circumstances. Meaning you might be getting more then you bargained for. A couple of black dots of fungus might turn out to be more money and time than it’s worth.

So what is the solution? If the owner will allow a professional investigation by a certified mould inspector, you can then decide if you want to do the extra work that’s involved to remove it, and if in the end, the price is still fair market value or less.