I sometimes “jokingly” tell my buyer, as I disappear into a difficult crawl space, that if I am not back in an hour, to pull on the rope I have tied to my leg and pull me back out. It usually gets a chuckle—-as they appreciate me doing what they would not like to be doing.
If a crawl space does not have proper clearances, Licensed Washington Home Inspectors are allowed to exclude the crawl space and recommend that proper clearances be created. I am very aggressive when it comes to inspecting these spaces and I have my own personal limits as to what I will endure in such a space.
If I cannot move though the space without coming in contact with cat or raccoon feces, I am out of there.
If I have to use a raft to get across the space, I am out of there.
If I can’t stay on the beach to get around a puddle, I am out of there.
(This is especially true of the above two excuses if it is raw sewage.)
If there are live beasts of prey in there, I am out of there.
If the clearances are less than 10 inches, I am out of there—-especially if I have to drag my face in rat doo through that 10 inch space. State guidelines say that “proper clearance” is 18 inches to floor joists and 12 inches to beams. There are a whole lot of crawl spaces that would get excluded following these guidelines. I feel that as long as I am there, I will do my best to provide as much information about the crawl space as I can—-otherwise it creates tremendous delays for the buyer—-and I have to come back again later anyway.
On a recent inspection, I had an assistant help me with the crawl space part of the inspection. This little guy, being just 10 inches tall, was perfect for guiding me through the space. I called him “Rulerdog.”
This crawl space however adjoined another crawl space. A very small opening had been created to the adjoining space. Rulerdog would not enter however, and I was on my own from that point.
This is by no means the smallest opening I have gotten myself through but it is a good picture of a small one. As you can see it is basically the size of one concrete block (8”x16”) plus a few jagged inches knocked off the row above.
I think Rulerdog could have gotten through it OK—-he was just a wimp.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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