So, you have a mold problem that has been corrected and you want to know if it is OK to move occupants back into the building.
As a general rule, owners can solve a mold problem in-house if the total repair cost is $500 or less and/or the affected area is less than 10-square-feet. Otherwise, the work should be done by a mold remediation company that is licensed and insured.
In either case, a clearance inspection should be done to verify the mold has been adequately removed prior to reconstruction. It will also satisfy disclosure requirements for buyers in the event of sale or transfer. The clearance inspection will demonstrate your due diligence in having the problem handled properly in the event of a formal complaint or lawsuit.
The purpose of a mold clearance inspection is to provide a limited investigation report based on the remediation activity performed at the site by an independent mold remediation contractor.
A post-remediation inspection, both visual and analytical, is performed to ensure a return to a pre-mold contaminated environment. The post remediation inspection is based on the following four criteria:
Absence of visible dust, debris and moisture within the containment areaAbsence of visible fungal growth within the containment areaMoisture content of lumber and other construction materials are within normal limits inside the containment areaBalance of the airborne fungal spores found inside the containment area when compared to fungal spores found outside the containment area based on total spore count and/or hierarchy of spores detected.
If all four of these criteria are met, then the mold remediation efforts are considered to be acceptable, and no further remediation is recommended. If any of the four criteria are not met, the mold remediation efforts are considered to be unacceptable. Further remediation is then recommended.
In the event the containment area fails inspection, a re-inspection is recommended. The inspection company should be willing to perform the re-inspection at a lower price since there is less work involved with verifying the recommendations have been implemented. Lower pricing may also give the customer a level of confidence the inspection company’s motivation is not to keep re-inspecting to generate additional revenue.
When a mold remediation contractor says they will do his/her own clearance testing, there is a conflict of interest. Not all remediation projects require clearance testing, but some form of post-remediation verification (PRV) should be performed. It should be done by someone working for the building owner, not for the contractor who did the work. Clearance testing services assure that the contractor has adequately cleaned the remediation work area to standard industry acceptance criteria.
The remediation company has a vested interested in passing the PRV inspection, because it costs time and money to continue working on your project if it fails. Sometimes, contractors want to keep third parties away from the work being done so they can wrap up, get paid and move on. Any cost savings offered to you to perform the PRV is already built into the cost of the repair, either through the initial estimate or subsequent change orders.
Hiring a “test only” company means one that only performs inspections, testing and consulting. This is an important distinction from a “testing and removal” company. It is up to you as the buyer to know the distinction. The mold industry is self-regulated. Buyer beware.