Teach Yourself Environmental Home Inspecting
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Getting Started

Here is where you hone some of your detective skills. You may very well get to the point that, even before entering a house, you will know why there may be mold issues inside.

This information is will useful not only for a current house but also for house-hunting. So get your clipboard and pen, and let’s see what you come up with. We’ll be talking about the risk for mold exposure but also for other environmental concerns.

Skip ahead: Outside Observations and a Preliminary Walk-through.

What should you know about the neighborhood and environs to lessen the chance of any unpleasant surprises?

When my parents bought their home close to 50 years ago, they had no idea that their quiet country road would turn into a shortcut for traffic, and that, even though the house was set back from the road, the noise from motorcycles and trucks stopping and starting at the stop sign would become annoying.

When I inherited the house and eventually sold it, the buyer and I were standing in the front yard, as one of these noisy vehicles took off at the stop sign. "You won’t miss that, will you?" he remarked. "No," I calmly agreed. In my head, I was dancing: "Ya hoo!! No more traffic noise!!! I can’t do another loud motorcycle!"

Glad to say, the new buyer was happy there and did amazing things, putting in a fruit garden such as I have never seen in the back yard. He told me he spent many hours just looking at the butterflies around the butterfly bush. (Tip: A master gardener told me that butterfly larva cannot eat butterfly bush leaves and that the better plan is to plant spice bushes, which both attract the butterflies and provide a place to spin cocoons and offer nourishment for the young.)

There turned out to be four other sources of noise at that house, though the traffic was by far the worst:

  1. A military training depot was about 10 miles away, but the house must have been downwind, because we heard boom, boom, boom some weekends
  2. There was a gun club about a mile away, with bang, bang, bang on weekend mornings
  3. And, who could have guessed, a neighbor who raised peacocks a few blocks away. You may not know that a peacock makes mating, sounds just like a child crying. I wouldn’t want to have bordered their property, at least during mating season.
  4. Oh, and the endless lawnmowing when there are acre plots

At my current home, where it is very, very quiet, I remarked to a neighbor once: "Living here is the next best thing to living in a graveyard." He looked at me peculiarly, but now you can understand. We still have the lawnmowers but the plots are much smaller. Too bad they can’t synchronize the lawn mowing and get it all over at once.

Noise is not the only contaminant to watch out for when purchasing a home.

I received a call from a distraught home buyer who had done her best to do due diligence with mold, etc., etc., ….only to get to the closing before she and her husband noticed the cell tower behind the fire station across the street. She was aghast that they had missed that. Virtual tours have their limits.

Sometimes things change, for the worse. Clients bought their dream house, a 2-year-old house, and were there only a short time before the church next door decided to rent out their belfry for a cellular tower. Despite a neighborhood protest, the church decision-makers would not be swayed.

Concerned for their children, these clients put their home up for sale. The homeowner told me that they disclosed the reason they were selling, and it took almost a year to find buyers who didn’t care about a cell tower. Happily, they found another dream house.

So, let’s see what you can learn from touring your neighborhood and then narrowing the investigation to your street and then to the yard and the house.

First, let’s ride around your neighborhood for some Outside Observations. Then, let’s do a Preliminary Walk-through of the premises.

 

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This page was last updated: June 9, 2020 4PM UTC     
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