The inspection and remediation of a home typically involves three key people: you, your indoor environmental professional (I.E.P.), and your remediation company. Each brings important information and insight to the project and plays a key role in ensuring the success of the investigation and any subsequent remediation.
An Indoor Environmental Professional is a general term use to describe someone who performs indoor environmental inspections and assessments of a building while a remediation company removes mold, microbial growth, and any affected building materials. While these fields overlap, they require different skill sets and areas of expertise. Involving both people in your project helps ensure the best possible outcome.
Above all, you generally do NOT want the same people handling both the inspection and remediation – this poses a conflict of interest and is illegal in some states. If the company performing the inspection also does the remediation, they may have a financial incentive to exaggerate the scope of the work or talk you into practices based on what is fastest, easiest, and cheapest for them, not what is best and safest for you and your situation.
Because these fields are largely unregulated, you will need to carefully vet any company you hire. To help, we have outlined below the roles of each person and key characteristics you will want to look for before hiring an I.E.P. or remediation company.
- The Homeowner or Occupant:
- Provides key insight into history of home or building.
- Provides key insight into the health and symptoms of those in the home or building.
- Is ultimately the one who has the most to gain or lose from the situation (physically, financially, and emotionally).
- An Indoor Environmental Professional (I.E.P)
- Is specifically trained to find sources of water intrusion, mold, and other indoor pollutants.
- Investigates your ENTIRE home using a variety of tools and tests. This is a multi-hour, multi-pronged investigation. Your home is inspected top to bottom, including hard to reach areas like attics, crawlspaces, basements, HVACs, and ductwork. The outside of the home should be inspected as well to determine whether grading, drainage, and other factors are contributing to moisture issues inside.
- Understands that mold is often hidden. Remember: just because you may not see or smell mold doesn’t mean it’s not there!
- Understands that air is always changing, and that using only air samples to test a home will not give enough data to properly write a remediation plan.
- Provides in writing the remediation plan for your remediation company to follow. At a minimum, the plan should follow the standards laid out by the ANSI IICRC S520.
- Understands that effective remediation considers not just the areas directly impacted by mold and water damage (known as source areas) but considers how those areas may have cross-contaminated surrounding areas, furniture, personal items, as well as HVAC systems and ductwork.
- Ensures that the practices and procedures used are what is best for YOU, not what is fastest, cheapest, or easiest for the mold remediation company.
- Performs Post-Remediation Verification (follow-up testing) after remediation is completed but before containment is removed to ensure the plan was followed properly, and that the expected goal has been achieved.
Tip: The company doing the initial inspection of your home should be different than the company doing the remediation. Otherwise, it’s a potential conflict of interest and is illegal in some states.
- A Remediation Company:
- Should be knowledgeable about the standards laid out by the ANSI/IICRC S520 and can perform remediation accordingly.
- Uses the recommendations from the I.E.P., creates a contract that matches those recommendations, and clearly defines and guarantees the outcome of the work performed.
- Focuses on removal of mold (not “killing”) and does not rely on things like harsh chemicals, encapsulates, or fogs as the sole method of remediation. For example, fogging may be useful in cleaning; encapsulation may be useful in prevention; neither on its own count as remediation.
- Understands how to work with those who are sick, immunocompromised, or sensitive to mold and other indoor pollutants.
- Has written in their contract that if they fail the post-remediation verification, they will come back to address the issues at no additional cost to the client (you).
Tip: Do NOT let the company who did the remediation also do the post testing – it’s a potential conflict of interest!
For more information on remediation, check out our interview with Change the Air Foundation cofounder and remediation expert, Michael Rubino.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unfortunately the requirements, qualifications, and skill sets vary greatly in these professions.
Do not assume that because a person is an I.E.P. or a mold remediator that they are bound by certain requirements, standards, laws, or operating procedures. You must thoroughly vet anyone you hire.
Resources to help you vet an I.E.P. and remediation company:
- Questions to ask when hiring and Indoor Environmental Professional (I.E.P.)
- Questions to ask when hiring a remediation company