Home Inspector with Home Helpers Inc.

At a recent inspection of a 6 year old home, I observed that the hardwood floors throughout the first floor of the house were slightly cupped. I continued my interior inspection thinking of what I would find in the crawlspace. I expected to find a muddy mess on the ground and a furry growth all over the wood. I was not looking forward to it.

To my surprise, the crawlspace appeared clean and dry. There was a vapor barrier, but not as much as there should be. Let me note here that we have had one of the driest summers on record, at this point a mild hurricane might not be a bad thing, we really NEED some rain. Further investigation in the crawlspace revealed that the ground was actually slightly moist, not muddy, but I could feel it. Moisture readings in the wood framing were just above the threshold of 19%. I can only imaging what this would be like after a some normal rain.

Confident in my findings, I emerge from the crawlspace prepared to report my findings to my client and their agent. I started at the beginning, the cupped floors. They had both noticed them, but didn't think to ask me if it was normal. In their defense it was minor and had the sun not been shining just right, it would have been easy to miss. I explained my findings in the crawlspace and remarked about the hardwood floors, these two items go hand in hand and left alone would eventually lead to some serious damage to the house. I made some recommendations ranging from a better vapor barrier on the ground, to the installation of a sealed crawlspace system. Further investigation by a waterproofing specialist would determine the best way to go.

I am never one to just pass the buck. The service I provide to my clients and their realtors is just what I would like to have if I were in their shoes. That evening I gathered up my resources to help them make the most informed choice and referred them to some local contractors that would do a quality job.

Everyone was very pleased and I felt great knowing that I helped another client make an informed choice about their purchase. Home inspections are not pass or fail, nor are they supposed to sugar coat the deal. As I always say, "It is what it is" and in the end I do everything possible to help everyone involved.

If you would like to learn more about crawlspaces and the benefits of installing a sealed system I have provided the same links below I provided to my client.

Always happy to help,

Scott Makseyn


Specifically mentions hardwood floors



Department of Energy information



Some great articles







Comments (4)

Valorie Ford Charlottesville Virginia Real Estate
Real Estate III - Charlottesville, VA
My husband and I had a home built in 1902.  Our floors were directly on the joists...no sub floor.  We too have a crawl space.  Since there was no way to truly insulate under our home (Florida has TERRIBLE humidity!), we opted to put that spray foam under the floors.  It has worked like a charm!  Our crawl space isn't completely sealed, but since we were in a historic area, there were regulations as to what we could and could not do.  What is your take on allowing these older homes to breathe and not nec. sealing off the crawlspace?
Sep 06, 2007 03:31 AM
Scott Makseyn
Home Helpers Inc. - Raleigh, NC

In todays construction homes are built a lot tighter than older homes. Older homes tend to breathe in all directions. By this I mean drafty windows, walls,roofs ect, Todays homes are built tight with high efficency windows and doors. The exterior is wrapped with an air barrier, the homes are well insulated ect. With a tight home, the "chimney effect" comes into play much more than an older house. In a chimney, heat rises up and out and is replaced with air from the lowest source. Basements are cool, attics are hot. A tighter house will draw the crawlspace air into the living space, some studies estimate as much as 40% of the air in the living space came from the crawlspace. Scary! In an older home that is drafty in many areas the concentration of air coming from the crawlspace is much less.

There have been many studies done on the problems associated with newer tighter contruction. Indoor air quality is a huge concern. If most people knew what was in their crawlspace, they'd seal it up quick !

Sep 06, 2007 04:52 AM
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

Good Job, Scott!

too many people don't notice the cupping and don't know what is causing it.

Sep 10, 2007 02:04 PM
Scott Makseyn
Home Helpers Inc. - Raleigh, NC

For some followup on this inspection, both flooring and waterproofing professionals were brought it to investigate further. The floor damage was minor and could be left as is or it could be sanded out. The waterproofing contractor recomended a full vapor barrier be installed with a fan. My clients will likely go for the full sealed crawlspace system to protect their investment. A happy outcome for everyone.

Sep 11, 2007 04:16 AM