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Committee Will Mold a Standard Questionnaire

Mold-screening reports give parties involved in real-estate transactions clues about potential liability when mold resulting from water intrusion is visible in buildings.

Providing standard screens for mold in buildings is at the hub of a standard under way in ASTM Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action.

“Mold is the newest ‘four-letter word’ for the real-estate industry,” says Margaret Lynch, executive vice president, Southside Virginia Association of Realtors and chair of ASTM Subcommittee E50.02 on Real Estate Assessment and Management. “Mold’s highly publicized destructive and ubiquitous qualities, coupled with certain individuals’ sometimes severe allergic reactions, have placed its detection high on the radar screens of lenders, insurers and prospective purchasers of commercial and residential real estate,” she says.

Involved parties such as lenders or building owners use a wide range of assessment and screening scopes, formats and questionnaires when addressing the potential liability from visible mold. Without a standard format for mold screenings, different formats produce different findings.

This leaves involved parties without a standard baseline for assessment, says Robert W. Barone, R.A., an 18-year veteran of real-estate assessment and remediation, who is senior vice president and principal for Inspection and Valuation International, Inc., White Plains, N.Y.

To provide a basis for uniformity, Committee E50 initiated a standard questionnaire for mold screenings when they met in October. The E50 Executive Subcommittee approved a task group within Subcommittee E50.02 to develop a “Standard Practice for Transactional Screening of Readily Observable Mold in Commercial Buildings.” It’s proposed scope is to “define good commercial practice for conducting a transactional screen of a commercial building with respect to the presence of readily observable mold. As such, the standard is intended to allow the user to assess the potential need for further assessment or action beyond that identified in this standard.”

The subcommittee seeks task-group volunteers with backgrounds in law, environmental and structural consulting, insurance, mortgage banking, and real estate. Task group members can use ASTM’s electronic standard-development forum to facilitate participation in this activity. The task group plans to define a standard of care that will:

• Establish an industry standard practice for screening commercial real estate for readily observable mold;
• Improve the quality and consistency of mold screening reports; and
• Ensure the practice of conducting mold screenings is appropriate, reasonable and reflective of current good industry practice.

Barone, the task group co-chair, is collecting sample scopes of work, checklists, and questionnaires used by lenders, insurers, environmental, and real estate assessment professionals. The task group will discuss these documents at their initial meeting, April 8-10 in Kansas City, Mo., during Committee E50 events.

To participate in these activities, submit samples, or obtain further technical information, contact Bob Barone at Inspection and Valuation International, Inc., White Plains, N.Y. (phone: 914/694-1900, x. 213). For membership or meeting details, contact Dan Smith, director, Technical Committee Operations, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9727).

Copyright 2003, ASTM