DEAR BARRY: Construction of our new home was recently completed, but four days before the closing, vandals broke into the house. They stopped up all of the drains and turned on the faucets. The builder found the mess in the morning. He immediately replaced the carpeting and some of the drywall, but he dismissed the possibility of mold. We are confident that he can repair all of the water damage but are concerned about future health issues in the home. Because of this, we may walk away from the transaction. Do you think we are overreacting? -Ken
DEAR KEN: Your concerns about mold are reasonable, but this should not become a deal-killing point of contention. Mold may or may not be an issue in this situation, but the matter needs to be determined, one way or the other.
Mold typically occurs when there is a prolonged moisture condition. In this case, the moisture may have been addressed before mold had a chance to develop. A mold report would provide the answer to that question, and the builder should be willing to go that extra step to resolve your final concerns in the aftermath of the vandalism. Instead of dismissing the issue, he should hire a qualified mold inspector to evaluate the property and provide a comprehensive mold report.
The fact that mold may be unlikely is not the deciding factor. There is also the issue of future disclosure. The home was flooded, and that occurrence is now part of the history of the property. When you eventually sell the home, this will need to be disclosed to future buyers. A clean mold report can prevent that disclosure from raising major concerns when that day arrives. On that basis, the question of mold needs to be answered by a qualified professional.
DEAR BARRY: I am looking for the legal definition of a bedroom. I bought a house that was listed as a four-bedroom home. Two bedrooms are in the remodeled attic. They have 82-inch-high ceilings and short alcoves for closets. I am trying to determine whether they are legal bedrooms. Can you help me? -Christine
DEAR CHRISTINE: A bedroom must be at least 70 square feet in area, with neither dimension less than 7 feet in length. The minimum required ceiling height is 7 feet. When the ceiling is sloped, 50 percent of the ceiling can be less than 7 feet, as long as no portion of it is less than 5 feet. The 82-inch ceilings in your attic rooms are lower than 7 feet.
A bedroom must also have an openable window for light, ventilation and fire escape. For light, the window size must be at least 8 percent of the floor area. For ventilation, the openable portion of the window must be at least 4 percent of the floor area. For fire escape, the window must be at least 5.7 square feet in area. The opening must have a minimum height of 24 inches, a minimum width of 20 inches, and a maximum sill height of 44 inches.
And contrary to popular belief, no closet is required for a bedroom
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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