I'll be honest...inspecting crawl spaces is not one of my favourite aspects of performing home inspections, BUT it is certainly one of the most important aspects of a home inspection. This is where the rubber-meets-the-road.
You know, there are many home inspectors who 'inspect' crawl spaces from their access opening only. They tell their clients that this visual inspection is all that is required to tell whether everything's OK. Some home inspectors say that it's too dangerous to enter crawl spaces and so they do not enter them for their own safety. With today's technology, a home inspector might even convince his client that sending in a little drone is just as good as him physically entering the crawl. Not so, and you'll see why....
From day one, I've entered crawl spaces because the inside of a home can be pristine but what's going on under the house is just as important if not more so.
When a home has a crawl space, I put on my coveralls and breathing mask and off I go into the great abyss. Most of the time, it's not so bad but I really don't like it when I shine my flashlight through the darkness and I see two little beady eyes staring back at me! That has happened on several occassions. My clients are always happy to know whether there are 'free loaders' who call this their home.
The dampness of a crawl space is crucial because excess moisture can lead to wood rot and air quality issues. When you think about it, the wood floor structure is exposed to the elements in the crawl space and that same floor structure is holding up the house! I've seen wood beams, joists and floor plates look absolutely fantastic from the crawl space opening. Upon a closer look though, my awl has poked a hole right through a wood beam! Also, examining the crawl space from all angles is crucial too. From one angle, everything looks fine until you maneuvre yourself around and see it from another angle and gasp.
Here are a few of the things that I've seen in my 25 years of doing home inspections:
So folks, now you can answer the question as to whether it is important to actually go into a crawl space to properly inspect it? Here are just a few pictures illustrating my point.
I've come across a lot of interesting tidbits of information during my 29 year career as a home inspector. I've been told that I'm pretty meticulous and a good 'teacher', so hopefully you'll find some interesting information here..