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Has Your Prospective New Home Had Flood Damage?

When shopping for that new home, we take a lot of time to determine if it is right for us, right down to measuring closets and bedroom space to make sure we have room for all of our various and sundry stuff. Unfortunately there are things that we tend to overlook in our zeal to find a place and get the mortgage and closing ball rolling. Namely, I’m talking about properly examining the home to make sure there aren’t any previous issues that may come back to haunt us, specifically water or flood damage.

In many older homes, there is always the prospect of mold problems in its history, particularly if it has been damaged by severe weather or flooding. What is less generally known is that even new home constructions may come ready made with mold issues, particularly if the new sat vacant for an extended period before being sold. The reason is simple, newer homes benefit from better and more efficient construction techniques, meaning that they are more tightly sealed. Any water or excess moisture that is in these homes is going to remain there, unable to evaporate out while the house is sealed up. Over time, excess moisture leads to mold. This is why it is perfectly plausible to enter a brand new home and immediately smell the musty odor that is commonly found with mold growth.

So how to determine if your new home has mold damage? Simple. Look for any signs of water stains on the ceilings, drywall, around windows and doors, and in the area of plumbing fixtures or basement walls. Some water damaged material may be deformed; it is quite common for drywall to swell if it gets wet, and this is a sign of repeated or chronic exposure to water.

Look for any area where the surface material differs. Patches of material that feels different from the rest of the surface may indicate a water problem.  Likewise, strange odors will almost always be a sign of mold or bacteria growth.  Mold requires water to survive and grow.

It may sound obvious, but look for flood lines….any sort of indication that water has been in the house. If major flooding has occurred, then there may be a tell tale line along the wall that indicates how deep the water managed to get.

Be aware of the “sick building syndrome”. Do you feel worse when you are in the building? This may be a sign of hidden mold, which again, is the byproduct of water damage.

Talk to neighbors in the area. They may be aware of any restoration work that has been performed on the home in the past. This author had just such a discussion with a potential neighbor before moving into my current home. I then knew what questions to ask of the seller.

Never assume that the home is properly protected against water damage. Always do your homework, ask questions, and do not be afraid to investigate.

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