Mold Inspection Expert Reveals All You Need To Know Prior To Hire

By: Licensed Mold Assessor Brad Fishbein

January 1, 2023

As a Professional Mold Inspector by trade and not a day goes by without hearing one of these questions...

  1. What is a mold inspection?

  2. What does a mold inspector do?

  3. How much does a mold inspection cost?

Well listen:

I have great news for you, after reading this article, you will be able to determine if it is worth it to get a mold inspection in your home or business and if these mold tests are worth the money.

You will hear terms in this guide such as Mold Inspection, Mold Assessment, Mold Evaluation, Mold Testing, etc.

They are all used interchangeably and mean essentially the same thing.

What Is A Mold Inspection?

A mold inspection focuses on determining if there is water damage present within the home that is causing a mold problem. Because some sort of mold content is present in just about every home, a determination is made during the mold assessment if it was caused by water damage.

How Is A Mold Inspection Done?

A mold inspection consists of a visual inspection for mold growth, moisture mapping for hidden leaks, air sampling, surface sampling, and checking the air conditioning for mold. Every inspection can be different as some mold testing could be limited in nature.

How Much Does A Professional Mold Inspection Cost?

The price of a professional mold inspection could vary depending on the size of the home, how many samples are taken, and what kind of report needs to be reported. You can expect to spend on average $500 for a mold inspection on a 2000-2500 sq foot home.

How Long Does A Mold Inspection Take?

The time required in the home can be up to two hours depending on the size of the home. Once samples are collected, they are overnighted or dropped off at a third-party laboratory for analysis. Results from the lab are typically available within 48 hours and a report is generated by the inspector based on the visual findings and lab results.

What Is A Home Mold Inspection

A home mold inspection is an inspection that focuses on the presence of water damage and visual mold growth on building materials and personal contents throughout a home. Air samples and surface samples are generally taken to determine how mold is affecting the indoor building environment.

Should I Get A Mold Inspection When Buying A House?

Getting a mold inspection before buying a home is becoming more common. A general home inspection typically excludes mold. A separate inspector with qualifications to assess mold can be done to ensure the home does not have any mold problems.

Do I Need Mold Testing?

Some species of mold growth can present more of a health concern than others. For this reason, when mold growth is present within the home it should be tested as well as determine the source. This will ensure the correct action is taken to remove the mold growth within the damaged areas.

Is Mold A Specialized Inspection?

Mold inspections are typically done by a Mold Assessor. Special licenses are required in certain states to perform these types of inspections. A typical home inspection has mold problems listed as an exclusion.

Is Air Testing For Mold Reliable?

Air sampling for mold samples is a common method of determining how mold has affected air quality. While air testing can determine if there is mold within the air it only provides a 5-10 minute sample. Air samples can be affected by many different factors during the course of a day. Air sampling can provide good data but should not be the sole factor in determining if there is a mold problem within a home.

What Is The Best Mold Testing Kit?

Most mold testing kits will tell you if mold contamination is present in an indoor environment but not how much and if the levels are dangerous. The most accurate mold testing kit available to non-professionals is My Mold Detective.

Is Mold Testing Necessary?

Mold inspections are only necessary if a mold problem is suspected within a home. Every home has a certain amount of mold. Professional mold testing will be necessary to determine how much mold is present and what species of mold. Mold testing may also provide information regarding a possible hidden mold problem within the walls.

Who Tests For Mold?

Trained individuals called mold inspectors or mold assessors can be contacted to inspect a home and perform mold testing. A special license may be required in certain states for a professional mold inspector to perform a mold inspection.

You May Have Mold In Your Home

If you fall into this category it's because you know of a leak in your home or you can actually see mold growing on your home.

You Won't Know If Mold Is Airborne

Most of the time the mold remediation company will just see mold in a certain area and just treat that particular area.

But what happens if the mold spores are airborne?

You won't know about having the air quality tested (more on this in the section below) in other areas to see if it spread through the HVAC system.

A mold remediation company will generally not test the air quality for mold and also perform the remediation. And if they do, that may be something that should throw up some red flags for you. That brings me to my next point:

Going Straight To The Remediator Makes Them The Judge, Jury, and Executioner

judge and jury

Just like anything else in this world, you need checks and balances. When you have a mold remediation company provide you with the scope of the work needing to be completed, you are at their mercy.

If you have another mold professional on your side, it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Honest mold remediation companies won't mind you having your own mold assessor.

Proof For Your Insurance Company

Mold remediation is usually a separate part of your insurance policy. Your insurance company may ask for you to have a mold inspection.

Also, it could go the other way.

Homeowner's insurance companies are notoriously known for not covering mold on insurance policies, so you may want to have the inspection to prove to them there is indeed mold in the home.

Allergy Like Symptoms

If you are having a symptom that may be related to mold inhalation or ingestion, it wouldn't hurt to have the air quality in your home tested.

If you never had any leaks in your home that you know of or any HVAC problems, it's unlikely that you will have mold growth in your home.


You are not a trained professional, so you could have a hidden leak or issue that a trained professional can identify.

A New Home Purchase

Having a pre-purchase mold inspection is becoming more and more popular. Buying a home is going to be one of the most expensive purchases that you will ever make. It doesn't hurt to protect your investment.

You may have a general inspection, a roof inspection, a Radon inspection, or an HVAC inspection, why not mold?

A good home inspector may be able to tell you where a leak could be present, but may not be trained to look and test for mold. They have so many tasks to complete during their inspection, it's hard to focus just on water leaks and mold.

Some home inspectors will take air samples to tell you what kind of mold and how many mold spores are present in the air, but won't be able to tell you why it's there. Bottom Line:

If you want to know if you have mold in the home you are purchasing, get it done by a mold assessor.

You Have An Allergy To A Particular Type of Mold

Some people have an allergy to specific species of mold. If you have been tested and want to make sure that spore isn't in the home, this could be a reason to have mold testing in your home.

It's important to know that even if you are having some symptoms related to your mold allergy, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a mold problem in your home.

Maybe it could be an issue at your place of work.

Also, don't forget, there are usually more mold spores outdoors compared to inside. During some parts of the year, there tend to be more outdoor mold spores.

What Does A Mold Inspection Consist Of?

By now you should have determined your reasoning for wanting a mold evaluation in your home.

But here's the real question:

What exactly do mold inspectors do?

First, you need to identify your goals for the inspection.

Are you looking to:

  • Check out one specific area of the home.

  • Has the entire home been inspected?

  • Has the air quality been checked?

  • Have the ducts been checked?

  • Have visible mold growth that requires mold removal?

These types of questions will all determine exactly what will be done and how much the cost will be. For this section, we will assume that you suspect you may have mold somewhere in the home but you aren't sure and just want to have the home tested.

Here is just a basic step-by-step of what your inspection will consist of:

  1. Have The Exterior Of The Home Inspected For Any Moisture Intrusion

exterior inspection

The licensed mold inspector will walk around the exterior of the home looking for such things as:

  • Window caulking that may be deteriorated

  • Cracking along the exterior walls

  • Areas where the ground slopes toward the home allow water to pool up

  • Sprinklers that are too close to the home

The main objective is to ensure the building envelope is completely sealed not allowing moisture into the home.

2. Survey The Interior Of The Home To Develop A Sampling Plan

interior inspection

Mold sampling is not always necessary in every area of the home, but again your preferences will determine that.

The inspector will survey the house and determine what areas if any will be sampled.

3. Conduct Moisture Mapping Throughout The Home

mold inspection tools

The inspector will generally be armed with at least three tools:

  • A Moisture Meter – A meter that can identify the amount of moisture content in building materials.

  • A Thermal Imaging Camera – A camera that can detect a temperature differential behind walls and ceilings that may signal leaks

  • A Flashlight – I'm sure you hear of this one (If you need an explanation, get out of that cave you are in!)

A good inspector can perform a high-quality mold assessment with these three tools.

Moisture mapping involves checking around all doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, HVAC air handlers, and any other areas of the home where moisture can be affecting the building materials.

This part of the inspection cannot be skipped. During the moisture mapping, the inspector may identify other areas where sampling is necessary.

4. Collect Mold Growth Samples

mold sampling

By this point during the inspection, the inspector should know exactly where samples should be collected.

The inspector may test both the air quality and any visible staining. A sample will also be taken outdoors to compare how much mold is outdoors compared to inside the home.

The mold inspector may also test the air behind the walls to determine if there is mold present, however, this is considered controversial by some in the industry.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association says this about taking samples within the wall cavity:

Air samples collected from within a wall cavity when the wallboard is aggressively disturbed (e.g., by drilling or pounding) hardly represent normal bioaerosol exposure of room occupants and can result in possible false positive results. Courtesy Of: The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)

The collection of air samples may be done during the moisture mapping to save time in the home.

Once the samples are collected, they are sent off to a 3rd party laboratory for analysis. If the inspector is a microbiologist, they may be able to examine them themselves.

*** If the inspector is examining the samples themselves, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but just keep in mind what we were discussing about the remediation companies. You don't want them being the judge, jury, and executioner, well an inspector that examines their own samples can technically be the judge and jury. If you have trust in the inspector, then, by all means, let them analyze the samples. If not, you may want to look into another inspector or ask that the samples be sent off to an accredited laboratory.

Step 5 - Check The Attic For Mold Spores

attic mold inspection

This can technically be part of the moisture mapping process however, this should not be completed until any air samples are taken.

The reason why…

There will generally be more mold in an attic space compared to the living space of the home. Unless you have foam insulation on your roof line, there will generally be open soffits that will allow outside air into the attic.

Also, you may have tons of structural wood that was wet at some point.

Look Bottom Line is This:

The attic doesn't get inspected until air sampling is completed in the home. Only under special circumstances does the attic be air sampled.

During the attic inspection, the inspector will look for any roof leaks, condensate line leaks, or any other areas that can cause moisture. If there is a known leak, the inspector will look to see if there is any mold present on the backside of the drywall or anywhere else in the attic.

Step 6 - Check The HVAC

mold on coils

Checking the HVAC system involves both checking the coils and the ductwork. Mold generally won't grow on the ductwork or coils themselves, but the dirt and dust that accumulates on them.

Having mold in your ducts can cause particles in the air when your system is running.

How Much Does A Mold Inspection Cost

The cost of a mold inspection, of course, varies between mold inspectors. Without knowing exactly what your goals are and what mold tests are being conducted I cannot tell you accurately if the quote you receive is good pricing or not.

Per Sample

Some companies will charge based on the number of samples that they take. The common amount the inspector will charge is usually between $75-125 per sample. When an inspector charges per sample, they generally won't charge for a visual inspection.

Some companies will charge a flat fee for the inspection ( usually $150-200) and then per sample at a lower rate.

Something to keep in mind is that the inspector sends the samples to the lab to get analyzed, so the lab fee is included.

Based On Square Footage

Another model inspection companies will use is based on square footage. A common price $150 per 700 sq feet. They will usually round the price up, or down or add $75 if the square footage is in the middle of the 700 sq feet.

For example, if your home is 1800 sq feet it would be $375.

Flat Fee

This model is the one my business adapts. I personally will give my clients a flat fee based on what their needs are.

By talking to them on the phone, I am able to determine approximately how many samples I take and how long I will be at the house.

My pricing is very straight forward and if I have to take a few extra samples than originally planned, I will let it cut into my profit.

Hidden Fees

In the mold inspection industry, mold inspection companies can get you by charging you for more than originally agreed to.

One thing to look out for is the mold remediation protocol. The mold remediation protocol is a play-by-play guide on how to fix the issue. I have seen inspectors charge anywhere up to $250 to write up the protocol. While I must admit, writing these are a pain, I have never charged that much. As a matter of fact, with my flat fee pricing, I don't charge at all.

When setting your appointment, ask if the remediation protocol is part of the price quoted for you.

Meet the author: Brad Fishbein is an ACAC council-certified Microbial Investigator. In the fall of 2012, he became a Licensed Mold Assessor in the State of Florida through the Department of Business & Professional Regulation. Brad has helped homeowners with over 5,000 successfully completed Mold Inspections since 2009.

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