Crawlspaces...Hidden Risks and Dangers.

Have you ever inspected a crawlspace? I don't mean, "poke your head in" type of inspection. I mean a "down and dirty, on your hands and knees, with cobwebs in your face," type of inspection. If the answer is yes, I'm sure you couldn't wait to get out of there. If you answered no, however, you should wonder if you are missing vital information on a home that your buyer needs to know about.

It has been my experience that if a crawlspace is inaccessible, then it does not get inspected. The financial consequences from this omission could be severe. The code of ethics, in some cases, allows for an inspector to avoid a crawlspace inspection if access is difficult or dangerous. I have been in many crawlspaces and can tell you that with proper attire and equipment, more than 99% of these crawls are eligible for inspection, and yet they go unnoticed. Your buyer can be at risk for some potential threats that crawlspaces can offer including:

· Vertical foundation cracks
· Pooling or standing water
· Rust on the HVAC supply and returns
· Leaky plumbing
· Voids in the seams between the foundation walls and the footings
· Rodent infestation
· Cracked sewer lines
· No sewer rodding station... etc.

There are even more severe problems that, at times, would be considered a deal breaker and yet they go without inspection. Some of these major concerns are:

· Mold infestation, caused by severe humidity and poor ventilation
· Foundation cracks, both vertical and horizontal, which show unusual movement
· Foundation shifting
· Termite and other insect infestation
· Radon gas
· Improperly installed support beams… etc.

How do we, as realtors, provide a broader safety net for our buyers? We must insure that inspectors are reputable, certified and experienced. The American Society of Home Inspectors and The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors have active continuing education requirements. It is our obligation to aid our buyers and insist on crawlspace inspections so that they have the whole picture. We can reduce the risk of future financial burden on our buyers by being pro-active on these and all inspection issues. If you would like further details on crawlspaces, you can contact me at: In addition, the following are web sites to assist you in your understanding of the hidden risks and dangers in crawlspaces...

Edward K. Bosco
InterNACHI Crawlspace Advisory Board Chairman
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