Should I Buy a House with a Moldy Basement?

mold wall

Originally posted 7/30/19; revised by Kelly Kater 10/1/20

Homebuying is a stressful process; purchasing a home that has a moldy basement is certainly not going to reduce that stress. Is it worth the headache (both literal and metaphorical) to buy a home with an existing mold problem?  Should you walk away now, and look somewhere else?   The answers to those questions can only come from you.   

But we want to help you make that decision, if we can.  Founded in 1996, Acculevel specializes in foundation repair and waterproofing.  We use Anabec products to treat mold, and we are well-versed in both the causes and the costs of these repairs.  We want to provide you with information, clearly and honestly, so that you are confident you’re making the best choice for yourself and your family. 

We’re going to discuss what causes mold and the approximate costs of mold treatment.  We will also explain what mold growth may indicate about the home’s overall health and what those potential implications mean.

basement corner with mold and standing waterThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a routine free estimate.  Water has been leaking into the basement corner and accumulating mold.

 

What Causes Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that needs a damp, dark space to grow.  Obviously, a leaking pipe or repeated flooding will develop mold.  You should look for a water line on the wall; consistent discoloration at a specific height is usually an indicator of ongoing water issues.  You should also closely examine any cracks in the foundation, as these can be a sign of hydrostatic pressure.  Water may seep in through these cracks, as well. 

But it doesn’t have to be a large amount of water.  If there is a lot of condensation in the basement, this can be enough moisture to feed mold.  You will want to consider the type of HVAC system installed, if the home includes a dehumidifier, or if there is a naturally high water table.  (High water tables frequently occur in areas near rivers, lakes, etc.)

 

Mold is a Health Concern

Many people experience allergic reactions to mold.  These can be relatively minor, and present just like many other allergen issues:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Eye irritation 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Sore throat 

If you have asthma, a compromised immune system, or chronic respiratory ailments, mold can be a more serious concern.  We have an article that explores mold and it’s harmful effects in detail.  But what you need to know is that people with weakened or still developing immune systems (like infants or small children) are at greater risk of more severe reactions.  

What Does Mold Treatment Cost?

The exact pricing will vary, depending on the size of the area affected, how much mold needs to be physically removed, and what treatment method you prefer.  But in general, mold treatment ranges from $4.00 – $7.50 per square foot.   In this blog post, we explain each type of treatment, the varying options, and what they cost.  

If you weren’t a great Geometry student, here’s a quick refresher course:

 

I know it may be tempting, but do not assume that mold treatment is something you can DIY.   Specifically: do not use bleach to clean wood or concrete surfaces.  Bleach is only a safe and effective cleanser when properly used on non-porous surfaces.  The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that any mold problem larger than 10 square feet be examined by an expert.

crack in basement wallThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a free estimate appointment.  This crack in the basement wall is starting to widen and allow in moisture.

 

Get All the Details Before You Decide to Buy the Home

I know this is an obvious and banal piece of advice, so let me elaborate a bit.  The seller may be asking a very reasonable price for their home- maybe too reasonable.  You may be absolutely in love with the home, but don’t let a home with a really great price tag blind you to potential concerns.  Consider what mold treatment will cost in addition to the asking price, as well as what’s feeding the mold.

It’s essential that you determine the cause of the mold.  If it is routine flooding, you’ll need to waterproof the basement to manage and expel the water.  If it’s cracks in the foundation, you’ll need to have those filled- or maybe the foundation needs more serious repairs.  Make sure you hire a reputable home inspector, and that they thoroughly document any issues from the basement.  

If you have seen a water line on the basement wall, cracks in the foundation, or any other concerns that make you think there’s more going on than just mold, you should probably also get a repair estimate from a licensed and qualified contractor.    Once you know what the possible repairs and mold treatment will cost, you will be in a better position to negotiate with the seller. 

 

Additional Resources for You

Acculevel has been repairing foundations and waterproofing basements for decades, and we frequently work with home buyers and sellers.  We have an article that details the top 5 questions that buyers and realtors ask

We have also written an article that helps buyers, when a home inspection has found issues.  This reviews what inspectors look for, what problems they may find, and if you need a structural  engineer or a contractor. 

 

Do You Have More Questions?  Want More Information?

Please use our free basement waterproofing guide.  It can be read in its entirety, you can select the chapter relevant to you, or bookmark it as a reference when you meet with contractors.  

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If you are worried about your dream home getting away and would like to take immediate action, find an experienced and knowledgeable contractor to evaluate the house.  Before you meet with a contractor of any kind, we urge you to verify that the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  

Not sure what questions to ask, or what information you should acquire about the company you hire?  Please use our guide to questions you should ask a contractor, with a free downloadable form.

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. We are a family-owned and operated company, and we provide free written estimates.  One of our experienced project managers will evaluate the basement and foundation, then recommend the best course of action for you.  We believe everyone deserves a healthy and secure home, and we want to help you protect yours.

 

 

Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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