Crawl space entrance question

Per the ICC code check book…It says that the
access opening must be 18in tall by 24 in. width for entrance.

What about the distance from the ground to the floor joist?

Some of you know about my issue with a customer complaint.
A plumbing leak a customer says I missed. I went back and
re-inspected. I measured the access opening it was smaller
the 18 by 24. Also their was only 12 inches from the ground’
to floor joist. What is the safe distance for going across a
crawl space?.

I did not go across the crawl space because it was only
12 inches high.


What did your PIA and report say about the crawl?

What did you tell them at the time of inspection about the crawl?

While the $800 may seem high, I could see a plumber quoting that to work in a 12" high crawl space.

Members only may be a better place for this thread, IMO

David, other than the minimum that you quoted it may need to be larger to service any equipment under there such as water heater, furnace, etc…so dont get caught up on a minimum.

As to the elevation height, code is 18 inches for joist and 12 inches for girders…which is all but impossible to crawl under; in such cases there should be additional access doors to ensure that all areas are accessible.

Whenever you do not inspect a system or component, for whatever reason, you need to annotate same along with the reason it was not inspected.

All crawls should have a positive drainage system (located at the lowest section of the crawl) to ensure any built up moisture is properly drained out of the crawl.

Hope this helps


PS. When you went back to do a reinspect, what was the source and cause of the leak?

[quote=“rmaday, post:2, topic:48504”]

What did your PIA and report say about the crawl?

What did you tell them at the time of inspection about the crawl?

While the $800 may seem high, I could see a plumber quoting that to work in a 12" high crawl space.
My reply:

I did not note on the initial report …that the access
was smaller than 18 by 24. The $800 dollars actually
was a quote about drying the basement…We settled
for $150. I think I could have won in court. On re-inspection I seen that this leak was hidden. No way for to me see it on the day of Inspection without any visible clues. The house only had one
crawl space entrance !!! opposite of the kitchen and
only 12 inches high !!!. On the reinspection I brought a
flood light…you could not see the plumbing break all the way across the house. No signs of wet dirt from the access. If I had written the limitations in the report it would have been a non issue. Im taking it as lesson learned for future crawl space inspections where I cannot see all the plumbing.
And advise the customer to seek a license plumbing contractor for an expert analysis for possible hidden plumbing issues.


[quote=“dnasser, post:4, topic:48504”]

You would have lost in court. Even it you were able to prove you could not access the area and the judge agreed with you it would have still been a loss. The $150 bucks you payed is a win in my opinion.

Like others have said it’s important to note the limited access in the report. Even better if you can provide photographs of the limited access. That way when you get the call about ( ) you have documented proof that the area was not accessible.

To the buyers was right for calling you on it because you didn’t indicate in the report the access was limited. As far as they are concerned you failed to inspect and report.

I find it’s more than worth it to make an extra effort to crawl all the way to the end even it’s it dirty and a long way. If you hit a low spot look for a high spot and go around. If there’s just no way then take a photograph and note it in the report.

Vince, if you are speaking of figuratively speaking, you may be correct. However, there is clearly a provision in virtually all SOPs where the inspector i not required to enter into or onto an area where they are in danger.

Utilizing OSHA’s own rules and logic for requiring special provisions when it comes specifically to confined spaces, and seeing how a crawlspave is indeed a confined space, I would have brought up the OSHA guidelines.

It is unreasonable, IMO, to call an inspector out for failing to enter an 18" high space. Take the Safety Course and see what may await.

A bite from a brown recluse is all it would take.:shock:

Just note it , explain it. I agree with Jeff.
Remember you win some and others just use it as a learning Opportunity . I am sure everyone here has a least one bite in the butt lol

Man that sucks, but like others have posted it’s a learning opportunity.

If the crawl space has limited clearance anywhere, the buyer should be told about it and forewarned about the potential negative consequences of owning a home with a low crawl space. You need to do more than simply say “I couldn’t get in to this area and defects may exist that were not identified”.

Personally, I’d back out of buying a home that had limited access in the crawl space due to the problems associated with ventilation, routine entry, inspection, and maintenance. Those limitations should be clearly identified in any report.

I dont know if I’d back out, but it should be called out as a defect and further evaluation be made after access is provided. My experience is you are typically rewarded with a good find at the end of a difficult crawl. And good job not taking it to court. Admit an error, buck up and move on.

He does not have to go in there, but…

…it should have been spelled out in the report.

If I were down there in poisonous snake and spider country, I’d probably use that phrase a bit. Most houses have full depth basements here; the odd crawlspace I have to get into up here is bad enough with worrying about poisonous creatures!!

Thanks…this info sure does…

[quote=“vsantos, post:5, topic:48504”]

thank Vince…I need all the hard core advice I can get for the future.

Please dont remind me…I havent got over the monster black widows !!

Yes Sir …

Im saving this thread for the great verbiage that Im getting…

Here’s some warnings I use.

“The crawl spaces beneath the XXX were not accessible due to the low height of the building above grade. Our inability to access the crawl space means that significant and potentially costly issues such as construction defects, structural decay, leaks, fungi, etc., may exist which were not discovered and we cannot endorse the crawlspace. The limited access also means that future maintenance beneath the home will be severely restricted.”

“Some sections of the crawl space were inaccessible due to low clearances. You should be aware the today’s commonly accepted construction standards prohibit untreated wood joists closer than 18” to the ground and untreated wood girders closer than 12" to the ground. Untreated wood in close proximity to the soil can contribute to decay over time. Additionally, low crawl spaces limit routine entry, maintenance and repairs to plumbing, wiring, etc."