Originally posted by @Sonu Sharma :
I invest in off market properties and have always been a little worried about going into properties with hidden big ticket problems as the wholesalers dont give enough time - plumbing and mold are big on that hidden list, in my opinion.
I can kind of approximate plumbing repairs but wanted to know if there are any easy ways to spot any hidden mold. Are there any tools/sensors that could help with mold detection that other investors have used ? I heard that mold problems can be very expensive to get fixed.
What do experienced investors look for in terms of mold and plumbing to spot hidden problems?
Great questions. What I think should be in your tool bag for inspections for those problems is a non-penetrating moisture meter. Assuming the plumbing is fully charged, and the home has been inhabited recently, you can use the moisture meter to probe around areas that are common to damage: plumbing walls, cabinet toe kicks and bases, kitchen and bathroom floors, shower or tub surrounds, below the washer drain box, etc. The meter will detect the presence of moisture.
Always get a dry reading first from the same material in an area you know has no water damage first. For instance, if I want to get a reading of sheet rock I suspect, first I'd get a sheet rock reading high off the floor and far from the area I suspect. This is my "dry standard" reading. Next, I compare the suspect area's reading to the first reading. I expect the sheet rock in a home to all have the same moisture content, and if I found a significant variation, that might be cause for some exploratory demolition. Same would apply to flooring: if I found that the flooring beside a commode had a higher moisture content compared to the same flooring at the doorway, that might cause me to conclude a wax ring has failed or a supply line has failed behind a commode.
For mold to be present, we first need cellulose (wood, MDF, paper, etc). Next we need mold spores (no problem, those are everywhere in the normal environment), and finally we need sufficient moisture. So since homes are made of cellulose and mold spores are ubiquitous in the normal outdoor environment, we need to determine somehow what has been wet.
Preforming visual inspections for mold is also possible in attics, crawlspaces, beneath cabinets, etc. Also red flags might include a "sagging" appearance to paint, yellow stains on ceilings, peeling paint on window sills, etc.
I'm actually just getting into mold remediation myself and have learned a ton about it recently. Get a moisture meter, like Sean mentioned. Look for signs of moisture or past moisture.
Mold needs three things. Oxygen, a food source, and moisture. The first two are everywhere, as well as the spores themselves. Moisture is the key.