Sagging Beam

During a recent inspection of a crawlspace I noticed the main beam was sagging. I included it in the report and recommended a structural engineer evaluate it. I then told the realtor I would like to be notified when the engineer was coming out to inspect the beam. He agreed.

Two weeks later I meet the engineer out at the house. Since the crawlspace was so low to the ground, the engineer was unable to enter the crawlspace and the beam was not visible from the access hatch. To his credit, the height was very short and there was an HVAC duct in front of the beam. I told him I would be happy to count the columns and he took some outside measurements. As the result, he recommended adding support in each span.

The unfortunate part of the story is the seller had an inspection of the home 11 years earlier and her inspector couldn’t or wouldn’t get into the crawlspace, but now she is responsible for these repairs.

Moral to the story, not all home inspectors are created equal.

How do you know the beam was “sagging” (thus being able to be observed even if YOU had done the inspection) 11 years ago? Assume nothing!

We’ll never know, because he didn’t get his arse in there in the first place :wink:

That is not relevant. What is relevant is that she is still responsible for the defect whether she had knowledge about it or not.

It would be relevant to me if I paid good money for an inspection and the guy didn’t go in.

So you made a bad decision. Either you couldn’t be bothered to do your due diligence, or you simply “cheaped out”. Stop living in the past and deal with the issues of today!


Jeffrey makes a valid point. Sagging of an over spanned beam is typically not apparent initially. However over a period of years an over spanned beam will creep or sustain permanent deflection.

Definitely no engineer required to see the over span and additional piers required.
Might have needed a skinnier engineer to get in there though. ;):slight_smile:

Good point.

I just had a very similar experience… A home I inspected this week had attic pull down stairs added in the upstairs hallway. The problem is whoever installed the pull down stairs cut the bottom cord out on 2 trusses to install the stairs (they installed the stairs perpendicular to the trusses). The sellers had bought the home only 3 years prior and their inspector never said anything about it. Now they are having to get an engineer involved to make repairs. They are furious with their inspector of 3 years ago and want to go after him for expenses.


You said in your original post:

Since the crawlspace was so low to the ground, the engineer was unable to enter the crawlspace

So my thought is that if the engineer was unable to enter, perhaps the home inspector couldn’t either…

Just wondering, in your opinion, would your clients have any recourse against their inspector from 3 years ago? Would “not altering the trusses” be something an inspector should mention to all clients?

I hate disclaiming an area because it’s too tight. I think how I would look if someone else did get in. In this case, I hit my head a hand full of times and belly crawled, but it was dry and had a vapor barrier. Additionally, I didn’t have any concerns of meeting a critter.

That’s a beautiful crawlspace, plenty of room to crawl, I am 6’-8" tall but when I lay on my belly I’m about the same height as the next guy, I would enter that in a heartbeat, wish they were all that nice.

Hey Chris, the engineer isn’t by chance named Kevin is he?

Just heard about a good friend of mine that hired the inspector in our area that has been trying to retire (or so he says) for the last year or so. Buddies of mine hired him because he had been doing it MANY more years than me, no harm no foul on my side, until, I was told he didn’t get into the crawl space, they bought the house, and now as they are moving in, they found out there is a gas leak and a plumbing leak. Can’t say for sure it was there when the home inspector was, but he “couldn’t access the crawl space”, so he disclaimed it… he refunded their inspection fee, but they still aren’t happy about it…