As consumers, one major factor to consider when deciding which product or service to use is convenience. Often times, bundled services seem appealing because they eliminate the hassle of finding multiple companies. In the environmental field, that means the hassle of hiring a consultant to identify a problem and a contractor to fix the problem. Can’t I just hire one company that does both? It may seem as if you are saving money by having one company perform multiple functions because they may offer a free estimate and free inspection. While bundling services may seem like a no-brainer, one major problem is a conflict of interest. This blog post will highlight several reasons why it is important to hire an independent consultant to perform testing and a separate contractor to do remediation.
Conflict of Interest
We often get calls from potential clients who are concerned about a leak or mold issue in their property. After listening to their concerns, it becomes apparent they need an inspection and some sort of repair work and/or remediation. We provide a quote to perform an assessment of the property. Many times, the client will then ask for a quote for the repairs or remediation. That is when we have the difficult task of explaining to them that we do not perform any repair work or remediation. The question is – why not do both? The answer is – conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is defined as “a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust” 1. In a lot of situations, a contractor offers a free quote or estimate to get their foot in the door. They use the allure of a free assessment so that they can write up a large quote for the repairs which their company will perform. Which brings me to my next point . . .
Buyer beware of free or low-cost assessments and testing. When an insurance company or cable company bundles services together you can typically expect some cost savings. This does not necessarily apply to the indoor air quality industry. For example, a property owner may see mold in their home but not know the extent of the mold issue. The owner may get a free quote for mold remediation from the remediation company — but if this remediator stands to gain from an over-exaggerated mold problem, who is to say that the initial estimate is fair? This is a situation when a third party consultant can play a key role in providing property owners with unbiased information about the extent of the mold problem. In other words, the third-party consultant will not make a mountain out of a molehill because there is no financial incentive for them to do so.
If you know the cause and full extent of an indoor air quality problem and need to get the problem fixed as soon as possible, you may opt-out of having a consultant do an initial assessment to develop a scope of work in order to expedite the process. If you do not hire a consultant on the front end, you will definitely want to hire one on the back end. Otherwise, how will you know if there are invisible mold spores or asbestos fibers that have cross-contaminated other adjacent rooms? This testing is commonly known as clearance testing and it applies to mold, asbestos, and lead (for mold projects it may be called “post-remediation verification”). A third-party consultant has no incentive or bias to intentionally pass or fail a project’s clearance since they are not affiliated with the contractor who did the work. This means you can trust the results. To learn more about clearance testing read a past blog post from our website.
When a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. A free inspection bundled with repair work may end up costing you several times more than hiring two separate companies. Even if you do not have time to hire a consultant prior to having work completed, we strongly recommend clearance testing to make sure the contractors didn’t make the problem worse. While it may not be convenient to shop around for two companies, in the long run, it may save you money and provide you unbiased, reliable information.