A phone call came in from a client for whom I did an inspection in 1997! Someone was doing work on the house and informed them that they had a lot of moisture in the crawl space and should call such and such company to evaluate it for them. Neither is able really to go under there, or desires to. So they had to trust what they heard.
Can I say something before we begin? When you are informed of a problem, or even have a perceived problem, before you call a contractor, why not call a home inspector to have a look? There are good reasons why. Here are just a couple.
- For a look see at a specific problem, his rates are likely to be much less than for a full inspection.
- A home inspector is objective because he has no financial interest in his findings or recommendations.
- He will not ask for money beyond his fee.
- There is no collusion with other parties. He may refer you to another company or engineer, but that is as far as the relationship goes. There would be NO kick back from the other party. He will ONLY refer you to someone he trusts, necessarily. I have a VERY small cadre of referral companies.
It could be my client's contractor had a relationship with the company he referred. It all fit together too nicely. The company that showed up, the "basement waterproofing company," said that there was NO vapor retarder over the soil and there was an extreme amount of water every where; the insulation was saturated and falling down all over the place; the concrete block foundation walls were so full of water that holes had to be drilled to eliminate the moisture inside. Now it could be that I am not up on all the recent keep-your-foundation-dry technologies, but drilling holes in the foundation wall is a new one for me.
Their solution? Same old, same old - put in canals to divert the water into a sump pump and send it out. Their fee? $11,000. That did NOT include the insulation replacement or the electrical for the sump pump wiring. But they could recommend people to do that, for additional fees.
NOTE: They did not identify the problem. What is the problem? THE SOURCE OF THE WATER! To fix this crawl space, the source of the water has to be identified and eliminated before anything else can be done!!
The contractor was all smiles, very smooth, very matter of fact, good sense of humor and tried many times to get them to sign a contract now, now, now! They just happened to have a free crew and an open slot next week and could get it done then! How very, very convenient!
They felt uneasy. Thinking about it, they decided to call me. Well, good for them! Here is what I found.
I see a vapor retarder. Picking it up there is not much moisture underneath.
The far center is the only insulation that is falling anywhere. What you see on the far left is what is against the wall. The insulation is not saturated, but dry.
The concrete block not only looks dry, it was dry.
The HVAC ducts are well insulated. The space is well vented.
It looked like a regular crawl space to me.
It is not over the top in any way. And no black widows!
There is something growing on or in some, but not all, of the floor joists. I am asking around to have that identified now.
A termite guy, coming for his regular visit, said it looks like some form of mold. I am not sure.
They are complaining that the room above is cold in the winter. I did recommend that they replace the insulation with paper-faced R-30, tightly installed all the way to the rim joists and touching the underside of the floor. My IR camera found the bay window seat, walls and ceiling to be well insulated.
Jokingly, and with a smile, I tried over and over to get them to agree to have me dry out that crawl space for only $10,000! And that I could draw up an estimate right then and there! Hey, I'm saving them $1,000!!! ;~)
My recommendation: CALL A HOME INSPECTOR FIRST! You might just save a few thousand dollars in the deal!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560