Most inspectors will tell you that they don’t like crawl spaces. Like Mickey Rourke in Barfly would say (not about crawl spaces, but about cops), “I just feel better when they are not around.” The problem is that crawl spaces represent a tremendous source of blog fodder. There are the wood destroying organisms, the structural failures, the plumbing leaks, the uncovered wells & septic tanks, the rodents, the homeless, and the dangling electrical wires.
There is literally no end to the amusement and adrenalin rushes that crawl spaces can provide.
I recently inspected a 6000 square ft crawl space----or more accurately I inspected 1/3 of a 6000 sq ft crawl space.
I was told that the access opening had been carpeted over because, “In 20 years there had never been any issues down there, and we figured it really wasn’t necessary.” Well allrightythen, I knew rightythen that I was in for a fun time in the crawl space.
After much effort, I was able to get into the crawl space through one of the crawl space vents---even though the opening was very wet. As soon as I saw how wet the opening at the vent was I was less than optimistic about the overall condition of the crawl space. The crawl space was divided into three, more-or-less, equal parts with a concrete foundation between them---with one opening at the center of each of the dividing walls.
The 1/3 of the crawl space that I was able to traverse was flooded in many areas but I was able to move around the puddles and see most of the space. There were wood support posts in standing water with decay/rot present and it was pretty obvious by the high water mark around the foundation and support posts that this crawl space had a long history of flooding.
As I made my way toward the opening in the first dividing wall, it became very clear that this was the end of my inspection of the crawl space. Visible at the opening, half submerged in water, was the non-functional sump pump.
While I was relieved that I did not have to inspect the other 4000 square feet of crawl space, I found it disappointing for my buyer that there would be 2/3 less information for them. Someone would need to fix the sump, make better access, and get this space ready for proper inspection.
Hopefully this is the end of the idea that there have not been any issues down there for 20 years. Lack of access is perhaps the biggest issue of all.
I have a feeling I will be back.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle.