No attic access question???

Hi everyone,

I am writing to get your ideas and opinions. My hubby and I are buying a home and we just recently had it inspected. The inspector was very good and very thorough. The house was built in 2008. Everything seemed to be okay with the place aside from a few things that need to be remedied. The house is a raised ranch with just top floor and a finished basement. The basement was bone dry as the inspector said, no water issues whatsoever which is great.

The front half of the house has vaulted ceilings where the back does not, so there is an attic up there however there is no attic access! The inspector did like this as there is no way to know what is up there which makes sense. We like the rest of the home but the issue with not having attic access concerns us. I have a friend who recently just discovered her attic was loaded with mold and she had to have it remediated which cost her over $35,000!

We are going to request that the seller maybe make an access but our realtor said not to count on it. My only option is to take a chance a buy it since the rest of the home looked okay and then have someone come in an make an attic access and pray that everything is okay up there or we walk away. We need to have a place to move by the end of this month though as we are selling our house and the closing is supposed to be set for the end of this month. We do not have a lot of time to go house hunting basically. I a unsure though what to think. The inspector said there was one area on the roof towards the center that was a little rippled, not bad though. Other wise it all looked okay. There was a “possible” condensation in the bottom of the light globe in the living room closet. It may not even have been condensation, but rather dirt. We had him do a moisture detection throughout the home and everything was fine, no evidence of moisture.

How serious is it not having access to the attic? is this a common thing when building newer homes? Any thoughts are appreciated.

Another option is get a different real estate agent. Who is he/she looking out for?

It is like buying a car but you can’t look under the hood at the engine compartment. You will not get the whole story without inspecting the attic. It may be fine and it may not be fine. Who can tell without inspecting? Make that a requirement of your purchase agreement, in my opinion.

In my opinion, that access should have been installed before the owners’ were given a certificate of occupancy when it was “finaled” by the local building inspector.

I agree with Larry, and I’ll add a “personal opinion” on your situation… one should NEVER buy a home just because they are “out of time”. Get a motel room, rent an apartment month to month, something, anything, but do not buy anything while you are under pressure. Doing so pretty well guarantees you will not be happy with your choice down the road. Good luck.

If the attic space has a clear height of 30" or more and greater than 30sf, an access is required, whether there is equipment up there or not. If built in 2008, this requirement was certainly in place. It’s a defect and should be corrected by the seller IMO.

Thanks everyone for the replies and advice I greatly appreciate it. There definitely is more space than 30sf for sure. We live in Chicago though and I am not sure what the codes are in Chicago. I know our inspector mentioned that they may not have had to put one in by law. However, I tend to agree with you all, that if there is an attic then I would want to know what is up there. I am going to discuss this with our real estate lawyer. I am going to have him request that they open it up. I am sure it will be denied though. Then we have to make a decision to either take a risk buy it and have the access put in ourselves to check it out and realize we would have to fix it if we found an issue or we walk away. Thanks again.

The question is if there was actually NO attic access or there was access but it was SEALED? This would be the more likely scenario.

Yep…Sealed, as in framed out and drywalled over.:wink:

Actually there was never an attic. There is a house right next door that is a mirror image of the house we want to buy( it was built by the same contractor at the same time this home was built). We talked to the people who live next door and they bought the house when it was built in 2008 when it was new and it has No attic access either. Apparently they never had one put in when these homes were built. I just cannot figure out why they would build a new home and Not put an attic access in.

There are some ways to inspect the hatchless attic before purchasing. Thermal imaging can show insulation voids or moisture in ceilings. The greater the temperature difference between outside and in the better it works, hot day, sun on roof, AC on, or cold day, no sun on roof, heat on. A high quality designed for buildings imager and a well trained thermographer are also required.
If the house has asphalt shingles a roof inspection can also indicated attic problems, 2008 shingles should be about half way or less through their lifecycle, and appear to be in good condition with no curling or other signs of overheating.
There should be ventilators on the roof, static or turbine. Three screws hold the rotating bit of a turbine on, remove them and you will have 10" diameter hole that you can stick a camera in, feel the sheathing, or maybe even grab some insulation. A static ventilator is a little tougher, but can also be removed by carefully lifting the surrounding shingles with a flat shovel and removing the nails. It may also be possible to remove some metal soffit without damaging it, (but don’t ask me how to do it, cause I don’t know how).
All this stuff is beyond the scope of a normal home inspection and will not be conclusive, but should reveal a truly sick attic. It should also be done by a person who knows what they are doing and what to look for.
“possible” condensation in the bottom of the light globe indicates that humidity was too high when the house was heated, and the light fixture in the ceiling was not completely vapor barriered, humid indoor air is getting into the attic and condensing at the light fixture. This could be a big deal or a little deal, if it was a small spot in the bottom of the light globe, it might not be too bad. Not likely it is anything else if it was a closed globe light fixture.
Mold is more often than not caused by occupants who don’t understand that low humidity is a good thing in a heated house in a cold climate, or that ventilation, exhaust fans, etc., are not optional equipment when the temperature drops to zero, your house needs to exhale and inhale just like you do.

Not the same thing, you should get in there period. I have found all yours to be true but then get into the attic just to find hummm broken rafters, cut trusses, mold, bad wiring etc etc.

No one should have to take a chance on a home $100,000 or $1,000,000 unless they know there are problems.
How about you pay for the hatch if there is nothing wrong.
And they pay if there is something wrong and I mean anything.

, Did a few with No attic entrance . Wrote up no attic entrance recommend get one installed and we will inspect it no Charge if in the area if special trip required then will be a small charge . Had the client initial on the report .
Not one asked us to come back .

Thanks for the replies,

we are going to ask the seller to make an access so we can have the inspector check it out. They likely will not comply according to our realtor. If they will not comply, our next idea is to have it written up in the contract that if we purchase the home we will then make an opening to check. If there is any damages found ( mold, wood damage, or electrical) then they have to pay for the damages. This is frustrating and stressful. I mean how can they build a home in 2008 without having an attic access!?!?!

That was always my recommendation. Everyone thought it was fair. A good general handyperson could put in a hatch in a couple of hours, which means for less than $100.

Gable access hatch is even easier, cheaper and faster.

Here a lot of buyers purchase a one year home warranty, I don’t know if something like that would cover an issue such as yours. Might be worth a look if putting in a hatch is a no go before signing.

Just remember they want to sell the house and you want to buy it. Ask for the access, be wiling to pay for it if you want. If they won’t add an access for 100$, what are they hiding? Tell your realtor its a deal breaker and your wiling to walk over it if your concerned. If you buy it and there is a problem, it’s your problem.

The seller actually did agree to a one year warranty after the sale of the house. My guess is that may not cover this though, but rather if anything went wrong with the house ( appliance break down, furnace, AC etc…).

I kind of get what your saying though, meaning if we have the one year warranty and we buy the place and make the opening ourselves and happen to find any damage up there, then they would have to cover the damage. Is that what your thought was? That might work but then again they could say we cut the whole and it was never there when we bought the place so it is up to us to fix whatever is found. I am not sure how all the legal jargon with be written in the contract on what is and is not covered in the warranty. I could ask my lawyer to write something up though and see if they will agree to it.

I have seen a bunch with no access … fire damage, mold, bad framing, no insulation, etc. BUT if the cavity meets the right size etc then CODE required it.

Do like they said … Offer to pay for it. If no issues, its inexpensive on your part.

If issues are present, its there baby.

If they are not willing to have it opened up and you pay for the access if nothing is wrong then you should walk.

You do not want a bill like I have seen and heard of for attics with major problems.

You won’t know if anything is wrong until you open it up.

Might be tough for a hip roof :slight_smile: