And a river ran through it - the house, that is.
Inspecting a crawl space, as I am wont to do, the dirt floor was completely covered with thick, black plastic. That's good! The underside of the floor was insulated. That's good! The ventilation was open all around. That's good!
But on one end I heard water dripping. It was raining that day, hard, and all day long. But dripping water? I looked at all the plumbing all around and saw no dripping.
So I followed the sound.
It was at the top of the crawl space, which inclined from the front of the house toward the back.
The yard inclined also, gently toward the house.
About 30' of yard passed from the street to the front of the house. It was not encouraged or diverted in any way around the house.
On a rainy day that is a lot of water pressure!
Pulling back the black plastic I found three spots, small holes really, where water was entering. The red arrows point out locations of active water intrusion. And the leaking water had formed a rivulet, which can be seen at the bottom of the photo.
That rivulet continued toward the left, and the front corner of the house.
Water goes where it is allowed to go. Which is why it is important to encourage water AROUND a house, and not toward it.
Zooming in on the yellow oval you can clearly see water dripping off the plastic at the ledge.
This was one of two such dripping locations.
That was the dripping I heard!
Following the rivulet down the side wall of the crawl space, I was able to see where it terminated.
At the lower corner of the crawl space, and pulling back the black plastic, the end of the line showed water about 3" deep.
It was exiting at that point through a small hole, and onto the rear yard.
This is important.
Had it not been raining that day there would not have been a dripping sound.
In my career as a home inspector, some 37 years now, I have seen water such as this only two times in a crawl space.
That means had it been a dry way I would not be inclined to have pulled away the black plastic to see if I could find small holes into which water MIGHT have been leaking.
So doing the inspection on a rainy day was fortuitous.
My recommendation: often I have had clients call me to ask if we should postpone a home inspection due to rain. My answer has always been a firm NO! During the rain I can see and determine things I cannot when it is dry. So keep the home inspection appointment if it's raining! You might just learn something really, really important!
P.s. Did the sellers know about this leak? Well, the foundation paint was fresh, as you can see in the photos. And the black plastic was very new in certain places. Virginia is a non-disclosure state, a so-called caveat emptor (buyer beware) state. Sellers have no reason or incentive to disclose anything. What is the buyer's best recourse? A home inspection!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560