6000 sq ft of nasty!

Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

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.

flooded 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.

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Gary Frimann
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Geez, wear a HazMat suit!  That is the number one reason I HIRE someone to do a home inspection.  I hate crawl spaces...  Some areas of the world are left unexplored...  You must love slab foundations!

May 20, 2013 07:17 AM #14
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

Right now I have a MUCH GREATER APPRECIATION for HOME INSPECTORS. I could never in a million years do what you did. Yuck...Yuck...and more Yucky! Happy to hear you survived the experience. There could have been, and probably were, all kinds of crawling things down there.

May 20, 2013 08:39 AM #15
Jim Patton
Century 21 M&M - 209-404-0816 - Turlock, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus & Merced county Realtor.

I guess if you can't see it it's not really there.  I wonder what else the home owner has been overlooking?

May 20, 2013 08:40 AM #16
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Yikes! Did you wear a wet suit down in that Charles? You may need to invest in one for future dives!

May 20, 2013 09:36 AM #17
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

If a seller can't see it, it's not a problem! Oh how wrong this is...   I agree with #17, Wanda, you should invest in a wet suit!

May 20, 2013 10:41 AM #18
Ralph Gorgoglione
Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes - Kihei, HI
Hawaii and California Real Estate (800) 591-6121

Yikes, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words! Thanks for sharing this post. Yeah, I think you will be back as well!

May 20, 2013 10:47 AM #19
Barb Fischer
Big Block Realty - La Mesa, CA
San Diego and La Mesa Real Estate

Glad you didn't run into the swamp monster down there!  We all appreciate the advice of great home inspectors...thanks for your blog

May 20, 2013 10:48 AM #20
Trisha Bush-LeFore
Preferred Properties Land & Homes - Walla Walla, WA
Providing Realtor Services in the Walla Walla Area

People definitely get too comfortable and start to believe that they don't need to maintain things the proper way. I'm sure someone will have fun with the other 4,000 sq. ft!

May 20, 2013 11:13 AM #21
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

Appropriate blog pic for this experience. And you had my attn. with the title! lol

May 20, 2013 12:00 PM #22
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Sounds like a huge mess to me. Wonder how many other sump pumps there were. Also would be surprised if you couldn't smell it.

May 20, 2013 12:07 PM #23
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
Brave of you to tackle the amount of sq ft you did do.
May 20, 2013 12:09 PM #24
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

Crawl spaces are the places where trouble looms for any buyer. Sellers normally avoid looking at the crawl for the entire time that they own the home. Trouble looms out of neglect.

May 20, 2013 12:12 PM #25
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Gary, I see them so rarely---but yes they are a joy :)

Jane, I think it was pretty much me doing the crawling :)

Jim---I think they were saving it all for the crawl space

Wanda, I was wishing for a row boat or at least a rubber inner tube

Suzanne, I will opt for someone else dealing with getting rid of the water and then I will go back

Ralph, who knows----perhaps there will be a part 2---or even part 3 and 4 to come

Barb, thanks---all in a days work I guess

Trisha, I for one am pretty curious about the other 4000 sq ft

David, where would we be without titles :)

Bill, I was a little surprised there was not more evidence in the interior of the building

Cheryl, this is by no means the biggest crawl space I have had to much through---but I don't much like them this big

Jimmy, everyone should have their crawl spaces checked at least every two years---with an occasional peek in between.

May 20, 2013 03:25 PM #26
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow - you needed scuba gear for that one.  Having lived in an area where sump pumps were needed for basements and another one where crawl spaces were filled with critters, I commend your fortitude!  Good luck with this one!

May 20, 2013 03:42 PM #27
Michelle Carr-Crowe-Top 1% Diamond Certified Real Estate Team Sells Cupertino San Jose Homes-Just Call 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Maybe the seller should refer to it as "waterfront" property? :-)

May 20, 2013 03:59 PM #28
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Just looking at the photo makes my skin crawl.  It is truly amazing that the owners had no idea what was under their home.

May 20, 2013 04:04 PM #29
Angie Johnson
RE/MAX Luxury Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Angie Johnson

Amazing there weren't visible leaks in the ceiling below this wet mess!  Nice photo.  Can I have permissino to use it so I can show my buyers the importance of a home inspection?  A picture really does say a thousand words:)

May 20, 2013 11:21 PM #30
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jan, it makes one wonder why we build with crawl spaces at all

Michelle, I like it!  Or house near "wildlife refuge"

Sharon, I think they know now :)

Ang---nothing below this---this is the bottom :)

May 21, 2013 12:03 AM #31
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Not to correct you my friend, but that is clearly an under home swimming pool and a nasty one at that :)

May 24, 2013 10:01 PM #32
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, I don't like swimming in crawl spaces :)

May 25, 2013 12:46 AM #33
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