Thinking about buying a straw bale house with mold on the inside walls.

Dear Straw Bale Experts,

I have been trying to buy a straw bale house in my area (Reno, Nevada) for a couple of years now. I tried everything under the sun to procure a loan, but to no avail.
Meanwhile it's been sitting in the desert vacant, and neglected for a couple of year (at least) now. At some point this winter a pipe froze and the house got flooded. Well, I finally have found some money, and wanted to revisit the possibility of buying this property.
What I found almost made me cry. The inside of the house was moldy! The walls (not all of them) have black mold about 15" from the floor. The concrete floors have some type of whitish film on them also. The air quality was so bad that I couldn't stop coughing, and I'm a healthy person.
Do you folks think that this house would be an unreasonable risk to continue to purchase?
In addition, the deferred maintenance list continues to grow! The outside plaster is cracking and missing in places. It's in the high desert, and we're in the middle of a drought, so excessive moisture hasn't been too much of an issue.

I would appreciate any insight or opinions that your community can provide.

Thank you so much.

Views: 235

Comment by Pamela Love on March 19, 2014 at 8:33am

Hey Ryan,

Thanks for the response.  I talked to the seller, and he said that the mold was "just cosmetic."  He also said that they were having it professionally removed, and certified. 

Would you still run?

Comment by Pamela Love on March 19, 2014 at 9:01am

Wow.  Thanks so much for taking the time.

My decision will probably be forced beyond my control anyway as the procurement of a loan from Wells Fargo isn't looking too positive.  I haven't received a definitive "no" yet, however

It's funny, but bankers seem to run from creative architecture almost more than they do from bad credit!

Comment by MK Kniskern on March 21, 2014 at 5:15am

I second the "Run!" Home ownership is expensive enough that you don't want to buy a problem house unless you REALLY know what you're getting into. I cannot believe the straw bales stayed dry inside flooded walls. If you are going to invest that much time & money into a strawbale home, build new. Don't buy someone else's albatross!

Comment by Pamela Love on March 21, 2014 at 8:42am

You guys have been so great.  Thank you SO MUCH for contributing to my understanding of what I might be getting myself into.

One thing to consider: I happened to have taken a drive out to this property again (after trying, and failing one year ago) to look at the place again.  I was encouraged by a realtor friend that thought I needed to own this place.  So, I just "happened" to visually witness the mold on the walls and floors from the flood. 

Once the clean-up crew gets done with the clean up job, one would probably never know that the place had this problem.  If the sellers didn't disclose that the problem existed, probably no one would ever know. 

So, just sort of playing devil's advocate - how many times in life do we get to know the "real" history of anything: (houses, people, cars, etc.) 

Guess that's apropos of nothing, but in this case I DO know.  For that, and the loan procurement problem, I will probably never own 900 Serenity Place.

Comment by Michael Hart, on February 21, 2016 at 6:55pm

The problem is that you really don't know if the mold was really cosmetic. Would really need to take a peek behind the stucco /plaster in a few test holes to know for sure.


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