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I am thinking about purchasing a home that is set on top of a crawl space (see image). The crawl space has the full height of a basement, windows and a door leading outside in the back. It has French Drains along the downhill base of the house and plastic lining covering a rock floor. I did see some water on top of the plastic in a few places. The foundation walls are footing and stem walls (I think). They appear nice but have some vertical cracks in several places upon closer inspection. The house was built in 2002.

Is the water concerning given the French drains installed? Are the wall cracks normal for the crawl space foundation... should they concern me?

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    You haven't told us what the foundation walls are made of. Photos of that situation would be very helpful. – isherwood Nov 16 '20 at 13:53
  • Foundation walls look like poured concrete to me, with a form used to give it a faux-brick look. My previous house was the same in that regard. – SteveSh Nov 17 '20 at 17:35
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I think the things you mentioned are solvable, though cannot venture a guess as to the cost.

First thing is to identify the source of the water in the crawlspace. The ground around the house has a good slope towards the back, so it should be relatively easy to direct any surface water away from the foundation - much easier than if you had a totally flat lot.

The (I guess) minor vertical cracks in the basement wall are easily fixed with an epoxy compound that is injected into the cracks, assuming the cracks are not growing. I had something similar in my previous house, noticed right after we moved in, and the epoxy-injection fix I mentioned held up for the 21 years we were in the house.

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The problem with water in a crawl space is the bottom of the house (the roof of the crawl space) is wood, and water there causes rotting and mold in the wood. The plastic is supposed to prevent water vapor from coming up from the ground and getting in there - that is clearly not working.

There are foundation companies that can come in and seal up a crawl space by putting down a lot better plastic than just a sheet of it. But until you get all of that stuff looked at, and an estimate done, you can't negotiate at all on this house.

For a house like this with water in the crawl space the seller should have an estimate in hand from a foundation company on what it would take to get that fixed, before they even list the house, and have it available to the buyer. The seller's Realtor would have told them this.

Here is my advice to you on buying a house. With home sales Innocent before proven Guilty does not exist. Instead, ALL home sales are "Guilty until proven innocent" The seller's job is to prove their home is fit and ready to roll. They need to have a home inspection done (any home inspector would flag water in a crawl space) and then for the major stuff flagged on it, they need to get estimates, if they want to get it sold for a reasonable price. Otherwise it is the Wild West and no holds barred.

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