Have you ever crawled beneath a home? Seriously. Have you ever crawled from one end of a crawl space to the other and all around, up and over or under pipes and ducts, looking at the perimeter foundation walls, the overlying floor system, the interior foundation piers, the wiring/plumbing/HVAC ductwork–basically looking for hidden or unknown problems. Believe it or not, if you own a home with a crawl space foundation, you should be doing this at least once a year, because this is considered to be an important part of annual home maintenance.
As a home inspector, I would guess that of the all the deals “I’ve purportedly killed” over the past three decades, most of them would likely be based on problems that I found beneath the home or inside the attic space—places which are seldom visited by the homeowner. Whenever I found a problem and explained it to the buyer, he naturally became alarmed. When the Realtor told the seller, he became offended, and the next thing (it seemed), everyone was mad at each other.
Why I Hate Crawl Space Inspections!
Not so much because I’m fearful of finding some major problem that will kill a real estate deal, but primarily because most crawl spaces are seldom entered by anyone and so they’re nearly always spider-infested, oftentimes damp and musty, and usually home to one or more of a large number of different “critters” that inhabit this quiet/dark space. In other words, it’s just a pretty damn unpleasant place to be (too often it seems). I humbly admit that I’ve been caught at the far end of a crawl space with a dim and dying flashlight one too many times–always leaving behind bits and pieces of my flesh as I hastily scrambled for the access hatch before total darkness set in. Believe me, it’s not a place to be without a powerful flashlight!
Why Crawl Space Inspections Are Important
In all seriousness folks, crawl space inspections are an important part of annual homeowner maintenance and an extremely important part of pre-listing home inspections and pre-purchase home inspections. If you’ve read the series of articles that we’ve posted on our website, hopefully the one on “wood rot” hit home, because this is a problem we (inspectors) sometimes find inside crawl spaces. Water leaks that go undetected, water seepage that ponds inside this area from heavy rains or frequent sprinkler system use, or just plain-ole, hot-humid crawl space ventilation—there are many causes of humidity build-up inside the crawl space and the colonization of different types of fungi that voraciously feast on the scrumptious wood floors that support us. In due time, if left undetected, the floors may begin to sag or bounce and the walls/ceilings start to crack. This usually prompts someone to crawl beneath the home where unfortunately, at this stage, the problems are often severe and expensive to correct. This type of problem could naturally be avoided if crawl space inspections were performed more often, at least once per year. And if an inspection does reveal problems with moisture/humidity, the crawl space can be easily encapsulated for about $ 1.50 – $ 2.50 per sq. ft.
Our crawl space inspections come with a printed report complete with photos and explanations of problems found.