Multiple crawlspaces and inspection report

I am not home inspector. I am basically an angry buyer trying to figure out what direction to take regarding issues with the house I purchased. I am looking to get opinions from outside, knowledgeable, and somewhat objective sources. The problems with this house include pervasive mold throughout the structure mainly due to moisture penetration from a combination of poor grading and the fact that 90 percent of the house sits over three separate dirt crawlspaces.

I’ll attempt to keep the focus of this discussion on the inspection of the foundation. I know there are issues with seller disclosure and issues with the seller and buyer agent.

Just to establish a few facts. I am a first time home buyer. At the time, I knew nothing about houses or home construction. I hired US Inspect based three recommendations from my buyer agent. I was not present at the time of the inspection. I was away on temporary duty assignment for the military. I had seen a floor plan provided by the seller agent which showed multiple sections to the foundation. It showed the foundation as L shaped with a crawlspace due north. A basement sitting slightly below this and above the right angle. A “sliver” of a crawlspace on the bottom left partially next to the basement and the rest of the lower right portion of the L which was documented to be a slab foundation. I doubt the home inspector received a copy of this floor plan.

However, the actual foundation is not like that. There are indeed multiple sections, however there is no slab, just one basement and the rest are dirt crawlspaces. One crawlspace is above the basement due north. One is partially wrapped around and below the basement and extends out slightly into the lower right portion of the L. And another composes the rest of the lower right portion of the L.

What is vastly obvious is that additions were added to a baseline structure. That can be seen easily by observing the exterior cement types and the fact that an addition was added to create an apartment (it could have been mistaken as a garage at one time - far bottom of the L ).

First, should the inspector have clearly identified that there are multiple sections to the foundation if this were obvious? Secondly, should references to “crawlspace” be clear in terms of them being multiple as opposed to singular?

The inspector “mentions” crawlspace three times in his report. In only one instance, in the structural section, does he go into depth on a crawlspace section since he found an access to it. This is due north of the basement. He observes that the entrance is too narrow but still accessible. However, asbestos was present and obstructed him. He could not see any visible signs of mold, recommended removal of the asbestos, recomended further inspection of the area, identified a dirt floor and recommended installation of a vapor barrier. This was accurate and acceptable in my opinion and made sense. He took pictures of this crawlspace.

In another paragraph, in the structural section, he mentions that a subfloor around a toilet is a weak and that it may need replacement. He states “that it was not observed from “THE” crawlspace.” Now this a completely different crawlspace. It is obviously separated BY THE BASEMENT and ANOTHER crawlspace and it was obviously added on…it is located in the apartment on the far right bottom of the L on the other side of the building.

At this point, it appears as if he considers the structure to have a single crawlspace. Is this normal? In this context of a sinking toilet, what does it mean when he says “the” crawlspace? Should one infer that it was the crawlspace due north since he never IDENTIFIES the presence of another crawlspace area DISTINCTLY, in the structural section.

That’s it in terms of crawlspaces in the structural section.

The third reference is a blurb under a “PICTURE” he takes of a peice of plywood on the exterior of the lower right of the L. He has pulled it off exposing just insulation. He states that he thought it might be a crawlspace entrance but that it was not.

That’s completely it in terms of foundation. No warnings about inaccessible areas needing further examination etc -

After reading the report, I made the assumption that the only real concern was the crawlspace with the asbestos since he had included very little documentation about the other areas of the foundation. However, to confirm that the rest of the foundation was in good order (I was concerned about the slab components which he never mentioned) I followed up with a few phone calls and asked him several questions about the crawlspace and the rest of the foundation. I asked about ventilation in the crawlspace since he hadn’t documented it, and specifically about the rest of the foundation; were there any cracks or other issues with it? He said there was ventilation and no major issues with the rest of the foundation.

I did a final walk-through, noticed a horrendous odor of mothballs asked about it was told it was due to “dog smell” and proceeded to confirm the main issue of concern which was the cleanup of the asbestos and that was it. (BTW my wife had done the house-hunting and said the mothball smell was present then too). I ask the seller to remove the mothballs.

Anyway, we move in, discover that the mothballs were not removed so we proceed to remove them. The next morning we wake literally with our eyes watering from the toxicity of the odor of mold and mildew. I track it to the closet. Find an entrance open it. A quarter inch thick of black fungus growing on the top rung of the latter. A dirt crawlspace with standing pools of water and dripping insulation. No dehumidifier. It was horrendous.

Thus started my major, episodic journey into a nightmare which has since played a major part in destroying my marriage, my life savings and has brought me to the point now where I finally have save some money to file a lawsuit against everyone involved.

But I digress.

So I looking back over the inspection report, I wonder if these issues should have been caught by the inspector, (beyond the ambiguity of the use of the term crawlspace and failure to identify unique and separate components to the foundation.) and would like opinions of whether or not a prudent responsible inspector would have found them.

  1. there are two vents on the top (north) of the crawlspace which he never investigates. He could clearly have taken photos of these and even inside of these. They were grated without screens to prevent bugs/rodent entry. Also it would have been obvious that these were created above the sills and not into the foundation itself.

  2. In the lower left of the basement, between the rafters the second crawlspace could be viewed partially. This area was visible and unobstructed and is documented as such in one of the inspection report photos. He just never looked over the perimeter of the basement foundation walls. Had he photographed inside this area, it would have proven to show a cinder block foundation with a dirt floor and joists sitting no more than two - three inches above the earth (the floor nearby is collapsing due to rot and nevermind the mold). This crawlspace area is completely inaccessible. There is no entrance.

  3. An entrance to the crawlspace under the apartment is located in the closet of the main unit’s master bedroom. I do NOT know for a fact that this was accessible, visible, and unobstructed during his inspection but based on a statement of the owner it was and that the inspector just missed it. The inspector did not take any interior photos of the main unit bedrooms.

  4. There are four vents on the outside of the apartment indicating the presence of a crawlspace. He did not photograph these. It would have provided a very strong visual clue of the presence of a crawlspace.

  5. Poor external grading. In some areas the slope is towards the building so I have pictures of water pooling against the foundation. In many locations the sill is no more than 1/2 an inch to five inches above the earth. Again this is documented in his photo’s of other things.

  6. No ridge vent on the roof of the apartment - but soffits exist. It’s a cathedral ceiling…

Sorry for the long post…but it’s a long story.

Thanks for the help. Great site by the way.

What state or Province are you in?

What do you mean? Your buyer agent recommended three inspectors and this inspector was one of them, or your buyer agent recommended this particular inspector three times?

Your recourse may be against the Home Seller if improper disclosures were made.
No recourse against the Inspector as he clearly defined the crawl spaces as “Not Inspected”.

I am in RI. We meet the statute of limitations of three years and the exculpatory clause is invalid - RI does not limit liability to just the inspection fee. Additionally, the arbitration clause naming a specific arbiter is also invalid as the arbiter is no longer accepting claims.

Robert. Take a black highlighter and mark out all remarks in regards to exposing the inspectors business name or anything else related to who this person is. Scan it in PDF format once done and post the report here. Also take multiple pics inside your basement and all four sides outside. Clearly stand back a bit so we can get the full picture. Before posting the report wait for Nick to approve or disapprove. He is the founder of the NACHI and has a lawyer who may not approve of what I recommend. The best way for us to to give accurate advise is to see the report and the contract you signed. PS… Thanks for serving. I’m currently in Qatar myself.

I do home inspections .
I can not do an inspection from Pictures or from printed matter .
Sorry but it might be to your advantage to hire a home Inspector and be on location so he can show you what he has found and hear his explanation … Roy

Singular. He defined the singular crawlspace as “Not Inspected”.

It is obvious that there are multiple crawlspaces as I tried to explain in my post. I was looking for comments on how other inspectors would approach that scenario.

He documented the single crawlspace.
He documented the basement.
He did not document the rest of the foundation.

Nowhere does this statement appear: “The property appears to consist of multiple crawlspaces. These crawlspaces were not inspected.”

And then something to the effect: I AM WARNING YOU TO INVESTIGATE THESE.

HOWEVER, and as I mentioned in my original post, one was “view-able” on the day of his inspection, which can be proven. He overlooked it.

The other had vents which were visible from the outside and there is an easily identifiable access point in the floor of a bedroom closet. He overlooked that too.

Plus the owner was there. Did he ask the owner ? My buyer agent was supposed to be there but she had to cancel.

Sorry Nick. I didn’t respond to your question about the buyer agent. She recommended three separate inspectors. I chose US Inspect because they seemed to be the largest.

After thinking about it a bit. We can only assume by what’s in the picture and the report. Having someone on site for a second opinion is the best way to go as Roy just stated. By the way Roy is one of the brightest inspectors there is and he’s been in the business for quite some time. The second inspector you hire should be able to answer your questions in great detail and help point out areas which is accessible and which are not according to standards we clearly publish for all clients.

Now there is an original idea. …

Is that and your buyer agent’s recommendation the only factors that caused you to choose that inspector? Think hard, this is an important question.

Sorry. I wasn’t actually asking for someone here to re-inspect the home. I am fairly certain that I was asking for someone to evaluate the situation based on the statements in my original post. I am trying to be fair here and am looking for opinions/discussion. If you feel you are unable to answer then I respect that. By the way, I was not able to be on-site which is why I conducted a follow-up and called him after his inspection.

I based it on her recommendation really. That’s it. Went down the list.

Crawl Space applies to Singular and/or Plural in a Report.
Good luck with your perceived interpretation.
What part of “Not Inspected” did you “Not” Understand?

Your follow up post suggests that you have initiated litigation.
Soooo… Why are you posting questions here?

Please share the basis of your conclusion that “multiple crawlspaces” is a contributing factor to the presence of mold in your home and how it differs from a single crawlspace. Thanks.

BTW, I am in agreement with several of the points made in your post but am curious as to your reason for not following his advice and having “further evaluation” of the inaccessible areas done prior to closing. It would appear that compliance with his advice would have revealed much of what later destroyed your life.

Hi Robert, sorry to hear of your problems with the home you purchased.

IMO the problems you have described seem to be primarily Disclosure Issues, (mothballs, rot, grading, building additions, etc). There may be issues with the Inspection as well but for me, not being at the property and reading the report it is impossible for me to really know.

As has already been mentioned, you can hire a Home Inspector now for another report to give you a better understanding of the problems. And/or Contact an Attorney and explain the situation to them.

Best of Luck

I don’t think it is the multiple crawlspace aspect that contributes to mold as a whole.

Each space is separate. Each space it’s own issues with mold and/or rot.

Each has not been properly managed. One area is very hard to re-mediate.

Anyway. Experts have concluded that moisture penetration is occurring and exposure to raw earth is creating high humidity levels.

Mold analysis has been performed, moisture content, humidity levels documented, pictures taken.

The way it has been explained to me is that three things need to be in place for mold to grow. And these are all highest in these areas.

What is particularly bad is the combination of a high grade, highly porous cement (cinder block) and interior humidity levels. The mold extends from the sills along the joists, into the sub floor, and up into the walls. The house has cellulose insulation which is a great nutrient source.

I guess it is called the wicking effect. In the one area where the inspector could have viewed, the joists are no more than 1/2 to few inches above the earth. The foundation is cinder block and the grade slopes towards the foundation. The floors are collapsing due to rot. We have not been able to live in the master bedroom since moving in and I can’t afford to re-mediate this area.

As Nick has pointed out, you selected an inspector from the list that your RE agent provided. You did not hire your own inspector. Your complaints, then, should be directed elsewhere. Without pictures, reports, dates, etc. no one can reply truthfully.

Good luck.

Actually, I forgot to mention that I did follow up with the single crawlspace area the inspector did document.

Prior to purchasing the property a company was hired to remove the asbestos and recommend to me if it was capable of being encapsulated. This area is not particularly bad in terms of mold and it is now professionally encapsulated.
In this are the main issue is with the effect of the high grade and the wicking effect which was not really noticeable from inside the crawl. It is exterior.

Since, the other areas were not recommended further evaluation, and since I thought they were slab, and based on his verbal confirmation that everything was fine, I did not see the need to follow up with anything beyond the inspector’s report…

hope that makes sense…

Thanks. Can you explain why my complaints should be directed elsewhere based on choosing an inspector recommended by my buyer agent? Sorry to be naive but that’s why I am posting here.

To learn.