First house, built in the late 60s, bought in October 2014. Original house has crawlspace with combination cinder/concrete foundation. Master bedroom is an addition to the house with a basement underneath.


1.) The house was sold to us with what sounds like an open pipe from the master bathroom addition leading straight into the crawl, instead of the sewer. We've been dumping sewage in our crawl for a couple months. Ew.

2.) The plumbing, ductwork, and joist support underneath the house is a cobbled-together mess. One of the joist supports fell, leading me to investigate the crawl, leading me to discover problem #1. I can't get down there to fix it, 'cause of the small amount of working room, and the poop.

Right now, I've got all vents open, and I'm running an industrial blower into the crawl 24/7 to try and dry it out. (Obviously, we are not using the offending plumbing right now.)


I want to excavate a good 6" to 1',6" of dirt from down there, for two reasons: 1.) There is too much dirt (not enough space to work on the problematic plumbing, ductwork, and joist supports) and 2.) an unacceptable portion of that dirt is now poop.

I'm not talking about turning it into a basement or anything, just pulling out a bunch of dirt and possibly laying down some gravel instead, so I have a sanitary and sufficiently large area in which to address the other problems this old house has.

Do I need to pull permits or hire a structural engineer for something like this?

  • Just for excavation I don't think you need engineer, you just need to be careful (there might be cables, pipes etc.).When it comes to permits you should check with local authorities. Now, depending on what you find when you are done with excavation, and what you want to do maybe you will need engineer at that stage...keep us posted Mar 9, 2015 at 15:25
  • That's good to know. I'm not too worried about buried pipes or cables, because I will likely be doing all the digging by hand. This idea is in its infancy and somewhat relies on a suspicion that I have a crawlspace access that's been graveled over in my garage. Otherwise, removing the dirt is going to suck! Mar 9, 2015 at 15:30
  • 1
    When digging by hand, be careful of "roots" - some of them turn out to be wires.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 9, 2015 at 15:33
  • Well wouldn't it be much easier to dig around garage, if that is the reason? Mar 9, 2015 at 15:34
  • 2
    I think I'd be talking to a real estate lawyer Mar 9, 2015 at 15:57


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