The recent hysteria over mold has sent many in the remodeling industry reeling. Remodelers have had to revamp their contracts to detach themselves from mold removal and have had to explain the reasons for that to homeowners. And when the dreaded stuff is actually discovered during a project, the days-of-yore tactic of scraping it off, spraying a little bleach, and continuing on just won't do. Experts must be called in, tests must be conducted, results must be analyzed, and then professional remediation often must be completed.
Because of the obvious inconvenience of all of this, contractors may be tempted to expedite the process by testing for toxic mold themselves. Do-it-yourself kits are readily available and no special expertise is required; once the sample is collected, it's sent off to a lab for analysis.
However, Gary Ransone, author of The Contractor's Legal Kit, advises remodelers to suppress the urge to take mold matters into their own hands. "I don't think it wise for the contractor to turn himself into a 'kitchen chemist' with this type of sampling and testing activity," he says. Remodelers could be held liable if the test is not accurate, even if the error is made by the experts during the lab analysis. Ransone adds that employers also face a liability risk if their employees are exposed to toxic mold when collecting air or surface samples. "The contractor has everything to lose and nothing really to gain," he says.