Don’t blame home inspector for mold found after closing
When you buy an old home, you must be aware of the possibility of mould behind the walls. If you are
suspicious, have the proper tests done during the home inspection. It is not easy to sue a home
inspector later if problems arise after closing. Here’s why:
David McCarthy and Debbie MacNeil bought a home in Halifax in May 2013. They had received a
positive report from their home inspector. Later that year, significant amounts of mould began to
develop around many of the windows in the home. It appeared that there was a moisture build up
problem. The solution recommended was to retrofit the house with a Heat Recovery Ventilation System
that cost $5,000.
The buyers then sued the home inspector for this amount because the buyers claimed that they were
not alerted to the potential problem. There was no visible evidence of mould during the inspection. It
turns out that the home was not occupied for some time prior to closing, and as a result, very little
moisture was being generated from cooking or showers.
The inspector noted that the fans in the bathroom were working and that the range hood in the kitchen
was not connected to the outside. This complied with the building code when the house was built.
In a decision dated August 19, 2014, Adjudicator Eric Slone indicated that in his opinion, the inspector
should have advised the buyers that since the kitchen range hood did not ventilate to the outside, this
could lead to potential problems, especially since there were new windows in the home, which cause
less leakage of air.
As a result, the judge would have allowed this claim against the home inspector, however, since the
inspection report had a clear disclaimer stating that the limit of any liability was $400, that is all the
In my opinion, this decision was wrong on many levels. Mould can be caused by so many things. In fact,
many people install new windows for the purpose of reducing heat loss. I suppose that this could result
in excess moisture in the home, if you do not make sure that the home is properly ventilated at the
same time. For example, if you do not leave your windows open and generate a lot of moisture, whether
by cooking or having lots of indoor plants, mould can occur. A home inspector cannot see behind walls.
If a buyer is concerned about possible excess moisture, they can pay for a thermal imaging test to check
for this.Home inspectors will generally look at the grading outside your home and the downspouts, to make
sure that water is being carried away from your home, to avoid potential water problems in the
foundation that could later lead to leaks.
Buyers need to understand that home inspectors are not magicians and cannot see through walls. It is
also standard that most inspection reports do have this limitation of liability clause so it is difficult to sue
a home inspector in most cases, unless you can prove that they were very negligent in their report. If
you are buying an older house, consider having some additional tests done for moisture and then after
closing, when you are contemplating any renovations, speak with your contractors about how to find
ways to both reduce your energy costs and at the same time, keep your home properly ventilated, for a
healthy home for you and your family.
This information courtesy of Lawyer, Mark Weisleider.