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I'm going to examine the crawlspace under a house I'm considering buying. What type of things should I look for? Here's my list so far:

  • Water, moisture, and dampness -- finding it's source.
  • Electrical lines -- their type and condition.
  • Foundation -- condition... cracks, signs of movement.
  • Wood condition -- signs of termites, wood rot, decay.

Anything else? Keep in mind that I'm a newbie. =)

And yes, we're having professional inspections done too.

-M

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    This will really depend on what part of the world you're looking at, and what type of construction you're dealing with. In California, you'll be looking for earthquake reinforcements; in northern Alberta you'll probably be more concerned about insulation.
    – chris
    Sep 14, 2010 at 16:27
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    Fresh graves. =)
    – JohnFx
    Sep 15, 2010 at 18:05
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    In my experience...spider webs!
    – Frank
    Sep 1, 2023 at 21:56

4 Answers 4

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Some things we found under our crawl space that you can keep an eye out for:

  • Joist hangers weren't secured to code, not enough nails.
  • Insulation wasn't properly secured and was sagging.
  • If the crawlspace is part of an addition, make sure ducts and vents arn't coverd up and carry through to the exterior of the house. Make sure any vents aren't leaking air and flow is good.
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    You had insulation?
    – Joe
    Sep 14, 2010 at 13:39
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    When I checked out my new house, I saw several vents via visible light into the crawlspace. Later on, I removed a vent in the course of other work and it was covered with insulation on the inside! Just because some are venting, doesn't mean that someone didn't do something goofy to some others! Sep 14, 2010 at 16:46
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You also may be able to check out a lot of the plumbing while you're down there. I'm sure this isn't that common, but I've found a broken drain pipe (god knows how that happened), and two (so far) never-glued PVC connections in the crawlspace under our rental cottage. Also look for signs of leakage or deterioration.

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Look for open electrical boxes, joints and unsupported cables, pipes, ducts. Open HVAC duct joints, gaps in foundation. If you can see light through it anywhere, you have access for insects, rodents, air, moisture and water leaks. Like cracks in block or concrete foundations, sill plates, siding, masonry joints.

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My neighbor failed to observe that there remained the roots of a cluster of palm trees growing beneath his front living room wall - which meant that in previous decades the 20-foot palm trees had been destroying the home's foundation and attacking the lateral sewer system. Not a good oversight, we estimate that he overpaid by $500K since lifting the home to replace the foundation and performing the necessary work on the lateral is expensive stuff in our area...

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