What's still Lurking under homes

Home Inspector with Perfection Inspection, Inc.

  I recently vented about a new home I had the pleasure of inspecting here in SalemExterior picture of lack of crawlspace vents, Oregon.  That home had some issues with a lack of vapor retarder and a lot of excess wood that was a big contributor to a advanced stage of current fungal rot.

  The home also had issues with lack of crawlspace ventilation.  In this climate ventilation of the unfinished areas (attic and crawlspace) is extremely important.  Moisture vapor that escapes the vapor retarder will rise and condense into liquid water if not allowed to ventilate and escape the confines of the crawlspace or attic.  All of this moist wood is a perfect feeding buffet for wood destroying organisms.

  The lack of ventilation under this doomed home was a big contributing factor to the deterioration.  This was just one more issue that the contractors that built/poured the foundation neglected.  All of these seemingly insignificant issues added up to a major repair bill in this new home's future.

  That home was just one example of the issues that can plague new homes.  interior surfaces dripping with condensation from lack of ventilation in Salem, Oregon crawlspaceMost people realize older homes should be inspected however most also think a new home doesn't need an inspection.  Regardless of the age of the home you should always protect yourself with a licensed, certified, professional private home inspection.

Comments (29)

Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

Thanks Jim for some great advice!

Mar 05, 2009 03:19 AM
Trevor Elliott
RE/MAX Integrity - Salem, OR


Great post. I had a buy inspect new construction and the master bedroom never got blown in insulation installed over it. I was 15 degrees colder in the master than the rest of the house.

Mar 05, 2009 04:03 AM
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.

It looks lovely! 

Waiter...I'll take a plate of mold for my appetizer, carpenter ants for dinner, and a boring beetle for dessert.  

Homes inspections are the best money spent. :)

Mar 05, 2009 04:33 AM
Christianne O'Malley
Dickson Realty - Reno, NV
Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno!

Jim - Thanks for the post. Believe it or not, most people believe that in Northern Nevada, we don't have fungal problems because it's so dry...but we do! The overwhelming majority of our problems come from irrigation and grade issues with oversaturated soil around the perimeter of the home causing the crawlspace to become wet, and then it evaporates and rises onto the joists and other things under the home.

I rarely - if ever - have a buyer waive a home inspection. And in the rare situation where they choose to, I require that they sign a waiver. Why people would want to buy a home without one is beyond me.

Mar 05, 2009 05:25 AM
Ken Offidani
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals - Lancaster, PA

I agree!  A home inspection is VERY important.  A lot of people who purchase new construction feels that they dont need one and that is wrong!  Great article!!!!

Mar 05, 2009 05:32 AM
Cecily Parks
iMove Group, Knipe Realty NW, Inc. - Salem, OR

Melina is funny! If that's what we are eating what are we drinking??? Beetle juice on the rocks perhaps or an "Ant-tini'?

Mar 05, 2009 06:16 AM
George Bennett
Inactive - Port Orford, OR
Inactive Principal Broker, GRI

Hi Jim - Thanks for the post and the photos. In my experience 60% - 70% of the clients I deal with have no prior understanding of the importance of proper ventilation and the need for vapor barriers.

Mar 05, 2009 07:16 AM
Aaron Poling
Long & Foster - Martinsburg, WV
Working to get YOU the BEST Deal!

Too often homeowners treat attics and crawlspaces with out of sight out of mind. This can be a huge mistake. These are very important areas of your home that can have huge problems

Mar 05, 2009 08:06 AM
Laura Gwyn
Laura Gail Gwyn Properties - Salem, OR

I'm new to AR.  Clicked on Featured Today and viola, its my friend!  Dude, you're famous!  Did my mold house make the blog list?  I need to see it!

Mar 05, 2009 08:15 AM
Lee Ellis
Northern Virginia/DC KWR - Lorton, VA
e-PRO, "RealtyLee" Green Homes & Technology Consultant

Jim, Nice article and supporting images. Great to have this information from a qualified, third-party source to show skeptics and those who are unaware of potential problems with new homes.
Perhaps more blog entries like yours and REALTORS earning their GREEN and EcoBroker designations will help people understand this ventilation topic better.

Mar 05, 2009 08:20 AM
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Investing in a home inspection with an well-qualified inspector is one of the best investments a buyer can make.

Mar 05, 2009 08:22 AM
Gaye Granice
Robert Defalco Realty - Staten Island, NY
Associate Broker

Most buyers do not bother with home inspections on new construction in our area, but the need for one is just as important as a resale.

Mar 05, 2009 09:55 AM

Great site.  So much information.  You will be getting our business!  Just wondering if you take coupons??

Mar 05, 2009 10:43 AM
Leslie Stewart
Oregon Licensed Broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Real Estate Professionals - Stayton, OR
Realtor, ABR, CRS, Oregon Licensed Broker

How on earth did this pass the original building inspection without proper venting? 

Mar 05, 2009 11:19 AM
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

Cecily:  Smelly stuff is what home inspections are all about...or something like that. 

I don't know about those drinks....you first.

Heath:  Keep your snakes, please.

Trevor:  That is very common.  It is hard to tell sometimes with out a thermal camera.

Melina:  Mmm, Mmm sounds like a good time.  I think a good agent is right up there with a home inspection for money well spent.

Christianne: Right!  And your major moisture issues happen in the summer, when the AC is on.

George:  It is definitely a developing body of understanding.  Even among professionals opinions can vary on proper ventilation techniques.

Laura:  Sometimes you throw things up and they stick!

Lee Ellis:  We are all learning about ventilation and insulation and how they work together and not against each other.

Leslie:  This was just one of the issues that "passed," building inspections.  It is hard to understand how they could have not noticed that.  But the nice thing for them is NO LIABILITY!!

Mar 05, 2009 11:35 AM
Roland Woodworth
eXp Realty - Clarksville, TN
eXp Realty

Looks like a great reason to get a home inspection... This is a VERY important step in the buying process

Mar 05, 2009 02:28 PM
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

Anyone who depends on the code inspectors to ensure everything is fine with a house doesn't understand the limitations of the City or County inspectors.  They are generally overworked (AHJ's seldom have enough people on staff) and can spend a maximum of 15 minutes on site.  There is no way they can see everything.  Once the foundation is poured and the floor is framed, they never, ever see under the house.  A good, professional home inspector is the only way to go!

Mar 05, 2009 03:25 PM
Norma Brandsberg
Marks Realty Co. Inc., Lynchburg, VA, 540-586-9496 - Forest, VA

There are also vent fans available for those areas that don't have enough venting.

Mar 05, 2009 11:49 PM
Glen Fisher
National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC - Oaklyn, NJ

Some recent building science studies have shown that crawl space vents may allow more moisture to enter the crawl space than to escape.  High tech sealed crawl spaces are starting to appear in certain parts of the country.   Ten years from now I am sure they will be the norm.    

Mar 06, 2009 03:48 AM
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

Glen:  Not in this part of the country!  We have relatively dry air the summer months and not a lot of Air conditioning.  The only time moisture is an issue here is in the winter time and it comes out of the soil.  It needs vents or it just condenses on the home and feeds critters and mold.

Mar 25, 2009 02:30 PM