Is it safe to go into a crawl space? Here is a complete checklist for crawl space inspection.
We can all agree that a crawl space is not as versatile as a basement, but that doesn’t mean it is useless. Far from it, your crawl space can be used to store several seasonal belongings or old family property.
It does share some similarities with a basement though, being that they are both low parts of the house and are prone to excess moisture (which can cause damage to the wooden joists below).
If left unchecked, the woodwork will no longer be able to support the entire structure of the building and that will eventually lead to a collapse.
For this reason, you must conduct regular inspections in your crawl space. Of course, you shouldn’t do this yourself, as a professional has more experience to do the job.
What Crawl Space Inspectors Usually Look For
When an inspector comes over to check out your crawl space, it’ll be nice that you know exactly what he or she is looking for.
Generally, a crawl space inspector would want to be sure that your crawl space is as safe as it can be. The best way for them to do this is by finding the things that make the area unsafe and advise you on how to solve the problem.
Below is a list of things a crawl space inspector will be looking out for.
- Insect infestations
- Excess moisture
- Mold colonies
- Malfunctioning wires
- Cracks in the foundation
- Unhealthy materials like asbestos
- Problems with the framing
- Vapor barriers
If it so happens that you’ve had a prior inspection, and already had your crawl space waterproofed with a vapor barrier in the past, then the inspection will be as smooth as can be.
Bear in mind though, vapor barriers will surely age as time passes, and your inspector should be able to identify aging and advise you regarding a replacement.
Then again, you should let the inspector know if this is the first crawl space inspection you are having. If they are aware that it hasn’t been inspected before, they will be more thorough and would be able to recommend the relevant waterproofing solutions.
Crawl Space Inspection Checklist
An experienced crawl space inspector will split the process into 3 phases.
These are –
- The entry phase
- The superficial inspection
- The full look-over
Let’s take a quick look at each of these phases.
The entry phase:
As you can imagine, the inspector will not be able to take a look at your crawl space if he or she doesn’t get in. In a case where the inspector cannot enter, then the inspection would become an automatic failure.
This is because the crawl space doesn’t even meet the size requirements in the first place. A crawl space must be a minimum of 2 feet wide and 18 inches tall.
The superficial inspection phase:
Before the inspector enters the crawl space (after it has been ascertained that it is wide enough), he or she will take a look inside to see if there are exposed construction materials.
The kind of exposed materials in question include naked electrical wires, protruding nails, and any other item that could be considered dangerous. They will also look to see if there is any standing water or mold and mildew growth.
The full assessment phase:
If the inspector can enter the crawl space safely, he or she will begin the main inspection.
It is at this phase they will take a closer look at the mold growth, ascertain the moisture levels, check for pest infestations, and take into account every relevant piece of information.
The inspector will give you a detailed report once the inspection is complete, and advise you on how you can tackle any problems identified in the crawl space.
Don’t lose hope if you fail a crawl space inspection, you can hire a contractor to redo your crawl space and bring it up to standard. This will take a lot of hard work, but it can be done.
Are Crawl Space Inspections Worth The Time and Money?
Taking into consideration all I’ve mentioned so far, do you think crawl space inspection is worth the money? Because the truth is told, it really does seem you can do everything the inspector did all by yourself.
I won’t be surprised if you’re thinking of taking the DIY route, but that won’t work the way you planned. Sorry to break the news to you, but you won’t be able to do a thorough job as a professional would.
Also, you’ll need to have the right qualifications before you are even allowed by law to work as a crawl space inspector. If you do not have the education and background in crawl space inspection, you won’t be able to spot what a professional would, even if it’s right in front of you.
So is crawl space inspection worth the time and money? The answer is yes, as an inspector can help you identify the problems with the area, solve them, and maintain the structural integrity of your home.
If you decide to do it yourself, you may miss a severe problem, which will manifest in the future and cost you a lot more than you can imagine.
The good news is, many crawl space inspectors offer their services for free. But they will give you quotes for repairs afterward, that’s if the crawl space needs any.
Some contractors can indeed carry out crawl space inspections for free, but what if you don’t come across any?
It’ll be nice to have a fair idea of how much crawl space inspections cost, just in case you have to part with some money for it.
While you consider the cost, I’d like you to keep in mind that the longer a problem persists, the more severe it will become, and the more you will have to spend on repairs.
On average, you would spend between $100 to $200 on crawl space inspection.
Cost Of Crawl Space Repairs
When the inspector is done taking a look at your crawl space, he or she will give you a detailed report on the state of the area, as well as some information regarding the cost of repair.
Damages done by bad weather include flooding and excessive moisture in the woodwork. Rainwater can also leave the walls and beams in bad conditions and turn them into perfect environments for mold growth.
Drought and harsh winter can also affect your crawl spaces. Drought for instance will leave the soil without moisture, and this can cause the crawl space floor to settle in.
As for harsh winter seasons, this can cause damages to pipes, which will, in turn, lead to moisture problems in the crawl space.
Repairing all this water damage doesn’t come cheap, especially if the problems have persisted and worsened over time. This could set you back between $1,200 to $4,500 for cleaning and repairs.
For more extreme flooding issues, you can expect to pay a lot more. Fixing damages caused by flooding could cost as high as $10,000. Maybe even more (depending on the extent of the damage done).
As for wall beam repair, you should expect to spend about $2,000. But this also depends on the extent of the damage.
If the crawl space inspector advises you to encapsulate the area, then you should expect to spend about $15,000 for the job.
Crawl Space Cleaning Cost
Cleaning your crawl space is an excellent preventive measure, as well as a repair measure when there is a mold or pest infestation to deal with.
When the area is clean, the mold will be removed and the other pests like rats and roaches will be less interested in remaining there.
Don’t assume that mold and pests aren’t harmless, as mold can cause allergies and respiratory issues, while pests like carpenter ants and termites can destroy woodwork.
Mold removal costs between $1,000 and $3500, while pest extermination costs between $200 to $500.
Some homeowners do not see the need to regularly inspect their crawl spaces. This is dangerous as it could have adverse effects on your health and the structure of your building in the long run.
Without proper crawl space inspection, you will not be able to detect mold growth, excess moisture, exposed nails, exposed electrical wires, mold or pest infestations, and other hazards in that area.
Failure to spot crawl space hazards and tend to them immediately would mean the already-existing problems will worsen, and eventually cost you far more when you finally decide to repair.
The good news is that crawl space inspection isn’t so expensive, and some contractors are willing to inspect for free, then quote prices of repair afterward.
I hope this article has helped you see the need for crawl space inspection, and I hope you give a contractor a call today to have your crawl space checked.
Thanks for reading!