As a home inspector I find myself in tight places sometimes. There are times when I think to myself, "can I do it?" and often times I will try when I really don't know if I can. When this question comes up I do consider the pro's and con's of going beyond what I am expected or required to do. In the end if I can I will.
During a recent home inspection in Bloomfield Hills I found myself asking myself that question when looking into a crawlspace entrance. This home had a couple additions so the crawlspace was a difficult task no matter the height from floor to joist, I knew that before even looking in the access panel. When I removed the plywood panel, located in the basement, I looked in at a small area around 10'X8' located under a room that was to be the first of three crawls. This area was easy enough but the area in the photo to the left was an access that used to be located at the exterior of the home evident by the brick veneer wall. My first problem with this access was it was just so small. This access alone was perhaps 14"X 12" just to get into the first half of the crawlspace. Technically I could have written this off as inaccessible but I knew that if I could squeeze into that access I should be alright so after some twisting and turning I managed to get in.
Once I made it into the crawlspace I "thought" I was home free but you can see the photo on the left shows a different reality. This crawlspace was no more than 14" from ground to joist and that was at the high areas. Once again I could have said forget it an written it off as inaccessible with less than 18" clearance. The home was over 2000 square feet and the crawlspace was two sided so I knew I was in for a treat. Once I made it to the far end of the house I started to panic a little, that closed in and trapped feeling you might get when under a house with limited clearance. I felt like kicking the floor out but that would be impossible to do when you hardly have room to turn over. Starting to feel panicked I just stopped and calmed myself down a little with a few deep breaths, not easy to do with this blasted mask which makes breathing difficult already. After gathering myself I continued back to the exit/entrance. I've never been so happy to be out of a crawlspace. This crawlspace was the hardest I've been in with such a limited clearance. As far as condition it was actually solid so going that extra mile didn't show anything but there are times when you take that "extra step" and find something you may have missed. While I know it's acceptable to note limitations and not take the risk I also understand each day I walk out the door, climb on a roof, walk in an attic or even drive to the inspection I am taking a risk. If the risk is great or what I believe to be foolish I will not take it. In the end I try to go the extra mile for my clients because I believe they deserve it.