The “big three” health hazards of the rehab and rental world are lead paint, asbestos and mold. Of the three, mold seems to get the least amount of attention. But the thing about lead paint and asbestos is you either have these problems in your building or you don’t. There is no need to protect yourself against them if you they aren’t on the premises at the time of purchase.
Mold, however, can pop up at any time. All it takes is excess moisture in your property along with the right temperature and you’ve got a problem. If you catch it early you can usually fix the problem yourself without any major issues. But if not treat properly, you can run into issues that make lead paint and asbestos problems look like fun.
Case in point, I paid a visit to a foreclosure building that is “for sale” along Jefferson Avenue in South St. Louis last week, and I witnessed the most amazing infestation of mold I have ever seen. This nearly complete rehab seems to have suffered from a pipe rupture on the third floor and the entire first and second floors are totally ruined. The water damage to the floors and walls is bad enough, but the mold is insane. The ceilings, walls and floors are completely covered with a colorful assortment of molds, some of which have the texture of cotton candy. Clearly this moisture problem was not properly addressed and the mold was allowed to keep growing.
Despite the fact that it was probably hazardous to my health to pay a second visit, I stopped by the property again this afternoon to take some pictures. In the coming weeks I’ll post some tips on what to do if you have a mold problem, but in the meantime take a look at these pictures and take this example to heart. This is what can happen if you allow moisture to penetrate your building: