Ugh! Can't see the foundation!

Hey all, here’s today’s dilema. I’m looking at a house that is over 100 years old. The foundation, if there is one…, on the exterior is covered by wood. The crawlspace is about the size of a closet and is located under the kitchen. The crawl is framed by wood walls and I have no way of seeing what is behind them. I cannot get access to the plumbing drain lines or see the foundation from the inside. This house appears to have some significant settling issues, but I am unable to see what is underneath to know exactly what is going on.

Any recommendations for how to proceed? Should I just disclaim the heck out of the structure and recommend further evaluation by a contractor or maybe a structural engineer?


Terry Lorenz
Criterion Home Inspection, LLC
Bozeman, Montana

I recommend reporting the settlement, wood construction in contact with the soil (implied by your description), lack of crawl space access, and defer the settlement to a structural engineer after crawl space access is provided.

Jim King

I would be interested in the Root Cellar.

The access door is usually hidden under the carpet with a big recessed hog’s nose ring. If you know what I mean. ha. ha.

Kidding aside, I would report what I see and recommend a General Contractor familiar with these structures to evaluate the condition of the Foundation and they could recommend a Structural Engineer for future design of the remedial repairs if any should be required.

Hope this helps.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I agree with Marcel.
Every little thing doesn’t need a “Structural Engineer” evaluation. That just shows you are unsure about your own knowledge or lack there of. It would be like killing a fly with a bazooka! They (experts) should only be called in to a major issue, (i.e. potential collapse of a structure). Settlement of a 100 year old house would not be a “urgent” crisis in my opinion. Recommend a qualified foundation contractor and they can recommend “expert” advice if its above their head. Most likely any contractor worth their weight can fix/ repair settlement issues on a really old home like this.

I haven’t read through the thread, but is it one of Jason Sieg’s wood foundations?


What a coincidence.

I had an inspection yesterday where there were termite wings all over the floor in one room (swarm). There was no access under this room so I went outside and I pryed open one small area of the foundation and I could just barely see that there was an inaccessible small cavity under this room.

Everyone wanted to access this area. The owner gave me a hammer and asked me if I could bang away at the mortar on the old fieldstone foundation to gain access. I had her sign a waiver for damages and I gave this area several bashes and the stone came loose. I removed the stone and guess what…Termite tunnels everywhere.

I concur with Marcel in your situation, Terry.