Building Inspector Environmental Checklist

by / Wednesday, 09 January 2013 / Published in Healthy Building Inspections & Testing
Building Inspector Environmental Checklist

Every building inspection should include a minimum scan for these Top-10 common environmental problems. These factors are simple to evaluate, often only involving using your nose and eyes, and can literally save lives. This building inspector environmental checklist is adapted from the Building Biologist’s Healthy Home Standard. There is no reason every home inspector cannot begin incorporating these items into their standard operating procedures. It’s easy and provides value. There’s really no excuse not to!

If the home is pursuing recognition through the Healthy Home Standard, finding any of the following red-flags would postpone certification until remedial action was taken. When I’m looking at a house or office for myself, finding any of these red-flags would make me pause in my tracks and consider opting for another space. However, these items can be remedied and result in a perfectly safe and healthy building.

Building Inspector Environmental Checklist – Top 10

IICRC S520 Guideline for Mold Remediation

IICRC S520 Guideline for Mold Remediation

    • Combustible Gas = Natural gas/propane gas is leaking into the building. Action Required: Evacuate, contact emergency personnel and utility provider, safely repair leak and adequately flush-out the building.
    • Odors / VOCs = Bad odor is present either from mold, sewer gas, building materials, furnishings, the use of ozone-generating “air cleaners,” fragrances, or unknown sources. Action Required: Identify and mitigate source.
    • Visible Mold = Mold is present and visible. Action Required: Determine and remove cause of moisture, and follow accepted guidelines for water damage restoration (usually IICRC S500) and mold remediation (usually IICRC S520).
    • Carbon Monoxide (CO) = CO is detected indoors above outside ambient levels. Action Required: Evacuate and/or flush-out building. Identify source and mitigate.
    • Dirty HVAC = Interior of fan box or ducts are visibly dirty or show evidence of water damage or rodent infestation. Lining of system is burnt, linings are deteriorated or excessively dirty, or filters are clogged or missing. Action Required: System should be inspected and cleaned according to accepted guidelines (usually NADCA ACR 2006), linings and filters replaced, etc.
AIHA Green Book

AIHA Green Book

  • Hazardous Material Storage = Herbicides, pesticides or other known hazardous materials leaking or not stored properly. Action Required: Hazardous materials should be in well-labeled, air-tight containers, and kept in a locked storage area preferably not within the air barrier of the building envelope. Ideally hazardous chemicals would be properly disposed of and no longer used on the property.
  • Moisture Intrusion = Water damage is evident or active moisture problem is visible. Action required: Find and eliminate source of moisture. Assess for mold contamination and have a qualified Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) perform a mold and moisture inspection in accordance with industry standards (usually AIHA’s “Green Book).
  • Dirty Coils & Drip Pans = Refrigerant coils or condensate drain pans (for AC or refrigerator) are found dirty or with evidence of standing water. Action Required: System should be inspected and cleaned according to accepted guidelines (usually NADCA ACR 2006). Drain pans should be repaired and condensate lines rerun to ensure proper drainage.
  • Lead Paint = Pealing, flaking or cracking paint on pre-1978 Target Housing. If the house was built before 1978 it’s considered by the EPA to be “Target Housing.”
    NADCA ACR 2006

    NADCA ACR 2006

    Action Required: Professional assessment regarding the need for a lead-based paint inspection. In California, Lead Inspectors & Assessors are certified by the Department of Public Health.

  • Asbestos = If the house was built before 1979. “Professional assessment in regard for he need of an asbestos survey and management plan, particularly if there are friable materials in poor condition,” or if suspected asbestos containing materials will be disturbed.

Healthy Building Inspections incorporate these environmental inspections and more, but this Top-10 is a good place to start.

City inspectors, building performance contractors (e.g., HERS, BPI), and home inspectors should begin looking for these environmental red-flags to add value to their time in a building. It’s easy, affordable, and would show that they care about the health of occupants… not just code compliance or energy efficiency.

Sick buildings are contagious. All these contractors who are already inside buildings could be the first line of defense in ensuring a more health-supporting community.

Check out this more recent blog on another form of Healthy Building Checklist.

12 Responses to “Building Inspector Environmental Checklist”

  1. Michael Alcock says :

    Pre Sale House Inspections are very important because everyone wants to purchase a property but if that property is inspected than they got trust on owner and it is also improve pricing of it. Thanks for giving us this great thinking of yours.

  2. Building Inspection Perth WA says :

    After a long time period I got a good blog about Building Inspection. Your communication skill is very good and your knowledge is also on the top about it. Thanks for the blog publishing.

  3. Sandy Hopes says :

    Found your blog. This is a very good blog on building inspection. I would like to thank you for all the information you give. Its really important to choose the right building inspection informative site for all type of working purpose. So thanks for sharing all that important information.

  4. Alex Stadtner says :

    You’re most welcome. Glad to see fellow environmental inspectors finding an interest. You’re totally right about pesticides. That’s often one of the more hazardous substances in residential buildings. Pesticides and herbicides can pose a very serious health threat to humans – and especially young children. Keeping it locked and up high is a best practice. In Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments they’d call that dead patch of grass a “dead zone.” Sounds scary, and you don’t want another one! Thanks for the blog response.

  5. Lillian Moore says :

    Thanks for the article! I was interested to find that inspectors check for hazardous material storage. Pesticides being the most common hazards are what they look for most, the material can be in the home as long as it is tightly sealed and cared for. I once knocked over and entire container of pesticide in my backyard and it killed everything in that area, the dead grass is still there too. I really appreciate your advice, thank you.

  6. Olivia Sherwin says :

    This is some great information, and I appreciate that inspectors check for all of these hazards. It gives me comfort that an inspected building won’t have any of these problems going unnoticed. My husband and I are moving soon with our two kids, and I’ll definitely have the house inspected to ensure our safety. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Michael Hussy says :

    Awesome, I think you covered most of the important factors here. Also, these factors are simple to evaluate. I would like to introduce you about a Field Inspection App which is useful for conducting field inspections quickly on tablets or smartphones virtually anywhere regardless of connectivity. It helps you to conduct more inspections while reducing cost and time.

  8. […] alluded to other building inspector environmental checklists, and much of that blog post came from this Healthy Home Qualification Checklist. We’ll […]

  9. Alex Stadtner says :

    Hi Sue,
    I was just informed by Michael Conn, executive director of the US Institute for Building Biology, that Alison Wilson is a longtime BBEC in Australia.
    Try this Link with a summary and her contact info: http://hbelc.org/find-an-expert
    For some reason the website listed was a broken link, but maybe the phone still works.
    And if you can’t get her… I’ve got 10 people that would love to fly to Australia and lend a hand!
    G’day,
    Alex

  10. Alex Stadtner says :

    Hi Sue,
    Thanks for the note. I don’t know of any Australian Building Biologists… but let me as the director here in the US and see if he’s got a list of environmental consultants in your area. I’ll write back if I get any leads.
    In the meantime… you might try this company: http://www.buildingbiology.com.au/
    I don’t know anything specific about them… but it looks like they do similar environmental testing and environmental consulting work…

  11. Sue says :

    Hi Alex, This looks like a really great program and would be of interest to me. Do you know of any companies here in Australia that already have an environmental focus and use the Healthy Home Standard like yours? Cheers, Sue

  12. Kenneth Lawrence says :

    Thanks for this article. Personally, I believe that building inspections are needed everytime you want to buy a house. Many people realized that professional inspections are really very important.

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