Looks can be deceiving. I inspected a beautiful Uptown home that has undergone a recent renovation. The exterior façade and interior looked amazing, very nice work by the contractor but something was overlooked….science. This is something that I see flippers and renovators frequently miss.
There was no detectable mold on the inside of the home so nothing was visible by the average person. When I arrived at the home for the inspection, I noticed pretty quickly that the crawlspace was very enclosed. A brick chain wall surrounded the entire structure with two small access holes on each side near the front. I knew immediately that there was a ventilation issue in the crawl. New Orleans has a high water table, I’d say about 5-10 feet beneath the surface so there is going to be a lot of evaporation from the soil. Therefore, lots of moisture from the soil and a closed off crawl space; that is a ripe environment for mold. I sensed the high humidity as soon as I entered the crawl. I noticed lots of little frogs, spiders and cockroaches. They all love water. So do termites but none were visible at time of the inspection. There was a lot of mold on all the joists, beams, sills and subfloor. The picture was a random sample. I just picked up the camera and shot.
Mold slowly causes wood rot so I noted in my inspection report that rot was present on the structural members. It’s also pretty likely that mold spores would get into the livable space in the dwelling. That’s a whole other can of worms.
A big problem was, only half of the structure was visible. The back half of the home (crawl space) was impossible to access because it got too shallow to crawl through. The back sill of the original structure was about one inch off the ground and I could only get within about 20 feet to that. Another 20 feet of structure was behind that and I couldn’t see any of it. If nobody can into it, that is the space where there is usually problems. So nothing could be reported on that area, it’s unknown.
High relative humidity, evaporation, condensation, inadequate ventilation and mold. This all has to do with science. I truly believe the best inspectors and not only good with HVAC, structure, electrical, and plumbing, but also with science. Ask anyone that has lived in a mold house and they will agree: the most important part of a house is its science.