25 Square Feet of Mold?
How Texas Mold Assessment and Remediation Rules Define This
Over the years there has been a big debate over the “25 square feet of mold” definition in the TMARR (Texas Mold Assessment and Remediation Rules). The rule was designed to protect the consumer, but there have always been mold remediation companies who have skated around the rule, by telling a homeowner or building owner that there was less than 25 square feet, they could do the job “cheaper” and save them some money or that they would “not have to get the state involved.” But what the remediation contractors were not telling their customers was that by getting around the rules, their work would not be overseen by or examined by a Texas Department of State Health Services Mold Regulations Inspector or a Licensed Mold Assessment Consultant. I am not saying that all of them who were doing this are bad Mold Remediation Contractors, because that would not be true. What I am saying is that, like always, there are some good and some bad, some who are trying to help and some who are trying to make more money from unsuspecting consumers.
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I am very happy to tell you that the Texas Department of State Health Services recently issued a rule clarification on the TMARR Frequently Asked Questions page (See full text below). In this Q&A, they clearly explain that a Texas Licensed Mold Remediation Contractor MUST follow the Texas Mold Rules even if there is only 5 square feet of visible mold. This is consumer protection! If you hire a licensed Mold Remediation Contractor, this is your guarantee that you, as a homeowner or building owner, will get your mold remediation project done correctly and completely. This forces the remediation contractor to follow the rules no matter what.
Now a Licensed Remediation Contractor must follow a Mold Remediation Protocol on every Mold Remediation job, no matter how big or how small. Only a Texas Licensed Mold Assessment Consultant can write a Mold Remediation Protocol. If you have a mold problem or think you might have a mold problem, make sure you call a Licensed Mold Assessment Company first!!! Make sure you are protected!
“Minimum Area Exemption” in Section 295.303(b) of the TMARR
Question: Section 295.303(b) of the Texas Mold Assessment and Remediation Rules (TMARR) states, “A person is not required to be licensed under this subchapter to perform mold remediation in an area in which the mold contamination for the project affects a total surface area of less than 25 contiguous square feet.” Does this mean that a licensed Mold Remediation Contractor (MRC) is exempt from all the mold rules if hired for a project where the mold contamination affects a total surface area of less than 25 contiguous square feet?
Answer: No. This exemption only applies to persons who are not licensed to conduct mold remediation, and was meant to allow small projects to be handled more simply and economically. A licensed MRC performing a small mold remediation project (less than 25 contiguous square feet) is not exempt from the TMARR. Regardless of the size of the area affected by mold contamination, if a licensed MRC is hired by the consumer, the MRC must follow the TMARR. This includes developing a work plan which follows a protocol developed by a licensed Mold Assessment Consultant (MAC).
Discussion: All licensees agree to work in compliance with the mold rules as a condition of obtaining a mold license (Section 295.304(b)(2)). In addition, consumers, whom the law was intended to protect, expect a licensed company they hire to follow the rules. If a consumer chooses to hire a licensed MRC to perform a small mold remediation project (less than 25 contiguous square feet of mold contamination), there is a reasonable expectation that the job will be performed in accordance with the rules regardless of the size of the project. In fact, a Certificate of Mold Damage Remediation (CMDR) may only be signed and issued by a MRC “for projects performed under the rules” (See Sections 295.302(6) & 295.327(b)). Non-licensees may not sign or issue a CMDR.
Licensed MRCs should inform customers that a licensed MAC must first prepare a protocol before the MRC can develop a work plan and begin the remediation. This is true regardless of the size of the project. The MRC, after ensuring that the consumer has been provided the Consumer Mold Information Sheet, may only perform a project in accordance with the TMARR, regardless of size. The MRC must respect a consumer’s choice to hire non-licensed people to do these small projects under the applicable exemption from the licensing requirement, and may not represent that the licensed MRC can perform the work without following the requirements of the TMARR
History of this issue: In the past, the department informally allowed MRCs to be exempt from the TMARR on projects where less than 25 contiguous square feet of mold contamination was involved. This allowance was made to enable MRCs to compete with non-licensees for those jobs that fall under the exemption from the licensing requirement. In light of more recent developments, including several complaints the department has received from homeowners, the department has reviewed the TMARR and has identified no provision that allows a licensee to bypass the rules in any situation.
Where to Look and What Questions to Ask
Download our infographic Buying a New Home? Here’s How to Check for Mold Before It’s Too Late to help you understand where to look and what questions to ask when doing a property walk through.