How Much Does a Mold Inspection Cost, and Do I Need One?

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Discovering mold in your home can be unsettling, whether you’re nestled in your longtime residence, on the brink of buying a dream house, or preparing to sell. The initial question that then emerges is: How much does a mold inspection cost, and is it necessary?

This guide provides expert insights about mold inspections, addressing costs and underlining the importance for current homeowners spotting mold, homebuyers deliberating the expense, and sellers contemplating a pre-listing inspection.

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What causes mold in a house?

“Mold issues are primarily due to water intrusion,” says Bret Pfeifer, the lead inspector at Golden State Mold Inspections in California, a state prone to mold issues. “Unknown leaks are the leading cause of significant mold remediation work. These are usually in the kitchen and bathrooms because of plumbing issues.”

He explains that mold thrives in these moist environments, making your home a potential hotspot if conditions are right. Here are the main culprits behind mold growth:

  • Leaks in the roof or walls: Undetected, leaking roofs or pipes can create ideal conditions for mold.
  • Poor ventilation: Areas like bathrooms and kitchens can retain moisture, encouraging mold.
  • Flooding: Whether from external sources or plumbing failures, water intrusion is a direct path to mold issues.
  • Condensation: Cold surfaces can cause condensation in warmer months, particularly on windows, leading to mold growth.
  • Persistent humidity: Excessive humidity indoors can promote mold, especially in basements and areas with humidifiers.
  • Inadequate drainage: Poor exterior drainage can lead to water accumulation around your home’s foundation, potentially causing mold inside.
  • A leaking air-conditioning system: This is a common cause of undetected allergenic types of mold that can grow quickly and spread through air ducts and piping.

Ed Kaminsky is a HomeLight Elite Agent with nearly 40 years of experience. He says when people are looking to buy or sell a home, mold often comes up in the conversation.

“Every house has some type of mold, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the “bad” mold, as they call it,” he explains. “Whether you’re buying or selling, there’s an education process you should go through about what type of mold it is.”

What do I do if I suspect a mold issue?

If you notice signs of mold in your home, it’s important to act swiftly to address the problem. Here are the steps you can take:

1. Identify the source: Look for any leaks, condensation, or high-humidity areas that could be contributing to mold growth.

2. Limit the spread: Keep the affected area dry and well-ventilated. Use dehumidifiers to reduce moisture levels.

3. Consult a professional: For peace of mind and a thorough assessment, consider hiring a mold inspection service to determine the extent of the issue and the best course of action.

If you’re buying or selling a home, and a mold issue shows up on a home inspection report, you’ll likely need to order a specialized mold inspection.

“An existing mold issue will eventually be discovered,” Pfeifer cautions. “Either during escrow or, even worse, after close of escrow. It’s better to get out ahead of it. The issues won’t fix themselves and tend to get worse with time.”

However, mold can sometimes be present in a walkthrough, and not listed as a health concern on a standard home inspection report. However, a buyer or seller might still want to purchase a separate mold inspection.

“It often falls more on the personality of the buyer or seller, or the health concerns of the parties involved — more so than the mold itself,” Kaminsky says. “It can be very minor and just common household molds, and that moisture issue has just got to be taken care of, and that solves it pretty quick and fast.”

If the seller knows there is a mold issue

Kaminsky says that if a seller is already aware of a significant mold issue in their home, there are important steps to take. “First, if it’s a bad mold, we talk about the pros and cons of doing a full remediation of the problem prior to putting it on the market. Next, we talk about disclosing — making sure they list exactly what they had done in the disclosure papers. Because, as part of the sale process, you have to disclose this information to potential buyers through the disclosure form.”

How much does a mold inspection cost?

“The price of a mold inspection can vary due to the size of the area inspected, but usually starts at around $300 or $400,” Pfeifer says. Nationwide, Angi estimates the cost range to be from $302 to $1,039, with the average U.S. homeowner spending about $665.

“Square footage and the number of samples are the biggest factors in the cost,” Pfeifer says. With these variables, a mold inspection can be higher or lower than the national average, ranging from $150 for a simple visit to $2,900 for a complex inspection.

For homes under 4,000 square feet, the initial cost is generally between $300 and $400, whereas larger homes may see prices between $700 and $1,000.

Factors that can influence the cost of a mold inspection include:

  • Size of your home: Larger homes require more time to inspect.
  • Accessibility to the mold: Hard-to-reach areas can increase inspection costs.
  • Number of samples: More samples may need to be collected for a comprehensive analysis.
  • Type of samples: Different sampling methods can affect the price.
  • Type of lab tests: The complexity of lab analyses can impact costs.
  • Type of mold: Identifying certain mold types may require specialized testing.
  • Location of the home: Where your home is located can also play a role in the sliding scale of inspection costs.

Angi provides these examples of how inspection costs can vary in different parts of the country:

City Cost City Cost
Los Angeles $160–$2,663 New York City $200–$4,100
Portland, OR $160–$1,400 San Antonio, TX $200–$625
Denver $155–$2,230 Dallas $216–$1,100
Chicago $150–$2,660 Asheville, NC $250–$900
Providence, RI $150–$3,000 Kansas City, MO $50–$1,452

Source: Angi

How much does a mold test cost?

A mold test, which is more detailed than an inspection, usually costs between $250 and $350. If the samples are sent to a lab for analysis, the cost might increase to between $400 and $500.

“A mold sample is usually taken and sent to the lab to find out what type of mold is present,” Pfeiferexplains. “The type of mold can help us determine the cause of the growth; different molds grow in different environments and moisture levels.”

This testing phase involves checking air and surface samples to identify the mold species and the concentration of spores, aiding in the development of an appropriate remediation plan.

How much does it cost to remove mold?

Mold remediation, the process of eliminating mold from your home, can be a costly affair. On average, homeowners may spend between $1,150 and $3,400 for mold removal. However, in more severe cases, costs can escalate up to $20,000. The price depends on the extent of the mold issue and the type of repairs required to ensure a safe living environment.

In severe cases, “Homeowners (and the cost) are impacted by the demolition of a part of their home,” Pfeifer says. “The contractor is dealing with a hazardous substance and has to follow specialty protocols for remediation.”

He adds, “Because of these factors — expensive and hazardous — it’s important to keep your inspector separate from the remediation contractor.”

How common is mold in homes?

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 47% of residential homes in the U.S. have visible mold or mold odor. Mold is especially common in moist spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. It can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a water incident, making it a frequent issue in homes with leaks, high humidity, or condensation problems.

5 moldiest and least moldiest states

In a report by restoration company Look Mold, the top 5 moldiest states are:

  1. Florida
  2. Louisiana
  3. Texas
  4. Mississippi
  5. California

The 5 states with the least mold problems are:

  1. Nevada
  2. Utah
  3. Arizona
  4. New Mexico
  5. Minnesota

Another recent study listed Hawaii, Vermont, Wyoming, and North Dakota as among the moldiest areas around the world.

While not every mold presence is cause for alarm, it’s essential to stay vigilant, as prolonged exposure can lead to health issues and damage to your home.

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How can mold affect your health?

Mold exposure can have various effects on health, ranging from mild to severe, depending on the individual’s sensitivity and the type of mold present. Common symptoms include nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, or eye irritation.

For those with mold allergies or respiratory conditions like asthma, the impact can be more significant, potentially leading to more severe reactions. In rare cases, certain molds produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks when ingested or inhaled.

Pfeifer recalls a unique case that severely threatened the health of the homeowner. “It was a mental health case, where the person didn’t open the doors or windows (except to receive food left by the neighbors) for several years. The conservator discovered the condition of the home. They had been living in the home with a major active leak for years.” The home had to be fully condemned.

How can I prevent mold in my home?

Preventing mold growth is key to maintaining a healthy home environment. The experts at the global restoration company ServiceMaster Restore share the following 10 things homeowners should do (or not do) in the fight against mold:

1. Remove mold food sources and ensure airflow: The best defenses against mold involve eliminating its food source, promoting adequate airflow, and reducing air moisture.

2. Avoid relying on retail mold-killing products: Products like bleach, especially on porous surfaces, may not effectively eliminate mold.

3. Vacuum vents monthly: To remove dust—a primary mold food source—clean vents, baseboards, floorboards, and bathroom vents regularly.

4. Do not vacuum visible mold: Using a consumer or wet/dry vacuum on mold can exacerbate the problem. Always seek professional help.

5. Avoid using fans on mold areas: Fans can spread mold spores, increasing damage potential. Professional intervention is recommended.

6. Use exhaust fans or open windows in bathrooms: To control moisture and ventilation, run an exhaust fan or open windows and doors after showers.

7. Invest in dehumidifiers: Small household dehumidifiers can help reduce moisture in mold-prone rooms. Larger homes might require multiple units.

8. Monitor plants and terrariums for mold: Be mindful that these can also be mold food sources.

9. Don’t ignore signs of mold: Indications of mold may signal larger issues that could pose health risks.

10. Consult a professional if you suspect mold: Trained experts have the necessary skills and resources to restore your home and prevent further damage.

Other practical steps you can take include:

  • Fix leaks promptly: Address leaks in roofs, walls, and plumbing as soon as they’re detected to prevent moisture accumulation.
  • Dry wet areas immediately: Clean and dry any wet spots within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  • Improve drainage: Ensure your home’s foundation drains away water effectively to avoid moisture build-up.

How do I find a mold inspector?

Finding a reliable mold inspector requires careful consideration to ensure you receive a thorough assessment, appropriate guidance, and a fair price.

“It’s a known issue in the industry that homeowners are sometimes taken advantage of by unscrupulous mold remediation contractors or inspectors that have business arrangements with contractors,” Pfeifer warns. “These bad apples will use scare tactics to recommend thousands of dollars in unnecessary work.”

Here’s how to find a mold inspector you can trust:

  • Research: Look for certified professionals with a solid reputation in mold inspection and remediation. Online reviews and referrals from friends can be valuable resources. Professional service-matching sites like Angi and HomeAdvisor provide search tools specifically for mold inspectors.
  • Verify credentials: Choose inspectors who are certified by reputable organizations in the field of mold inspection and remediation.
  • Ask about experience: Inquire about the inspector’s experience, specifically with homes similar to yours in size and structure.
  • Request a detailed plan: A reputable inspector should provide a clear plan of action, including the inspection process, testing methods, and a remediation plan if necessary.
  • Compare quotes: Obtain estimates from multiple inspectors to compare services and prices, but remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best.
  • Ask a local real estate agent: Experienced real estate agents have a network of connections with trusted inspection companies, including mold inspectors.

Selecting a skilled and experienced mold inspector is important to accurately identifying mold issues in your home and ensuring they’re addressed effectively.

A top agent can help guide your inspection decisions

Kaminsky says, from the buyer’s perspective, you have every right to be concerned about mold. “Watch for the warning signs,” he advises. “If your home inspector finds anything that indicates water intrusion, you should definitely get a secondary inspection or a professional mold inspector to inspect the area.”

He adds, “Some homebuyers want to have a mold inspection simultaneously with a home inspection, before the home inspector even determines if there are any concerns.”

And if a seller has concerns and wants to be proactive, Kaminsky recommends hiring a mold inspector before listing the house, and before a buyer’s home inspection is ordered. This can eliminate surprises that might stall or kill the home sale.

Whether you’re buying, selling, or just looking for an inspection company referral, HomeLight can connect you with a top-rated real estate agent in your market.

Header Image Source: (Pixabay/ paulbr75)

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