Being a professional home inspector means there is never a time where you can say that the learning stops and you know everything. If I haven't made it clear through my credentials I have an insatiable appetite for growing my understanding of all things home related that was fostered both through my late Grandfather (possibly the most skilled carpenter I have ever known) and 14 years at working with NSCC. My education continues to this day as can be seen clearly in the photo above: I especially like to learn more about topics that are only lightly touched upon in the formal home inspector programs: one such topic is marijuana grow-ops.
As everyone is well aware, marijuana has been legal in Canada for a while now and while still technically illegal throughout the entire United States, in reality as of 2021 only 5 out of 50 states have a full ban on it. One of the consequences of this is a drastic decrease in the black market and a corresponding drop in houses that are used to grow large quantities of cannabis illegally. It goes without saying that former growers generally do not advertise what the home was used for in the past and it can be difficult to identify a house that was used as a grow-op. There are a number of reasons why it is critical to know if the home was used as a grow house aside from insurance and mortgage issues:
One of the biggest concerns I see as a home inspector involve air quality and mold. What exactly is mold and is it dangerous? The most important thing to know is that there is no such thing as “toxic mold” or “black mold”. Mold is a part of the fungi family, to which nobody knows how many species of fungi exist. The most common types of indoor molds are:
The main area of concern for the home inspector are:
So, what is a homeowner to think? This topic is a perfect example of why I am a systematic home inspector and not an “electrical” or “plumbing” or “structural” inspector as these systems are all interdependent in a home. While I could lull you to sleep with my many hours of research, the biggest takeaway is that moisture control is the key to mold control. Did I mention that moisture is the sworn enemy of the home inspector?
Here are some steps you can take to keep mold growth at bay:
Molds are not generally dangerous but any signs of mold (such as black patches on the bathroom ceiling) should be handled as soon as possible. Generally, it is NOT a good idea to use biocides, chlorine, or other disinfectants as this will not eliminate the root cause, and dead mold can still cause respiratory problems. The best course of action is to prevent mold from taking foot by…. you guessed it…. moisture control. You may have noticed some similarities to this article and my first article on radon and that is no coincidence: the strategies for clean air, mold, asbestos, and radon mitigation are largely the same and can be summed up in three points: source control, improved ventilation, and air cleaners.