Oh, crawl spaces, an area most of us like to pretend doesn’t exist so we can keep our thoughts away from all kinds of potential creepy crawlies. Not to worry, though — your local home inspector will do that for you and give you a detailed report of what they see in your crawl space and if any issues need addressing.
Crawl spaces can range from larger areas that are relatively easy to maneuver around to areas that are barely enough room to shimmy through. Still, regardless of size, they can harbor all sorts of hidden problems that you’ll need to know about before you purchase a home or make repairs on your current home.
You might want to run away from your crawl space, but don’t run from this article — we’ll share why it’s important to have your crawl space inspected, what inspectors are looking for and what you can look for if you want to brave that space and get in there yourself.
Crawl Space 101
Crawl spaces are hidden troves full of your home’s systems components. From plumbing to electrical and ventilation, crawl spaces are crucial areas.
There are many different options for how these spaces are laid out and accessed, but generally, you’ll find access to a crawl space either from inside the home’s basement or on the home’s exterior.
It’s possible that your home, or potential new home, was built without access to a crawl space or a crawl space that is too small to move around reasonably. There are a few reasons why this might be the case, but it will mean that a home inspector won’t be able to include a crawl space in the course of a regular home inspection. If you run into issues in a crawl space that doesn’t have easy access, you’ll need to hire a contractor to determine where the best access point is and create an opening for you.
Why do we have crawl spaces at all? There are a few main reasons that a lot of homes have them. Here are the main ones:
- Crawl spaces provide a place to put the infrastructure for the systems of your home that would otherwise take up useable space.
- Crawl spaces provide a cold air sink, meaning that your home will stay warmer in the winter months.
- Some locations are not conducive to having a dug basement to house elements typically found in crawl spaces.
What Is A Crawl Space Inspection?
A crawl space inspection is a part of a standard home inspection performed by a home inspector licensed by one of two home inspection governing agencies, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors. Additionally, each state may have another certification that home inspectors must hold; you can find the info on your state here.
Crawl Space Inspection Checklist
Crawl spaces can host some very undesirable pests, molds and other hazards that are detrimental to the condition of your home. Here are the main elements that a home inspector will use their arsenal of tools to detect:
- Adequate ventilation to outside – This is essential to prevent a situation where the humidity in your crawl space gets high enough to foster mold growth.
- Insulation on exposed water supply, waste, and vent pipes – Properly insulating these pipes means that your home is protected from freezing pipes during cold months.
- Insulation between crawl space and heated areas, installed with vapor barrier towards the heated area – Insulating the areas that share a wall or floor space with heated areas helps prevent heat loss from the central part of your home. This will save heating costs and help keep your home warmer, especially the floor.
- Evidence of insect damage – cockroaches, earwigs, termites, etc., are all pests that can cause damage and make your home less than cozy. Insect damage isn’t always visible without the expert eagle eye that a trained home inspector has.
- Evidence of moisture damage – Moisture is one of the worst things for home and something that a home inspector is always on the lookout for, especially in dark, closed-off areas that don’t often see the light of day.
Crawl Space Inspection Cost
A home inspection generally costs between $300 and $450. The rate will depend on the square footage of your home, the number of rooms, and the complexity of the spaces that need to be inspected. Average home inspection rates will vary based on your location and the overall cost of services.
Crawl spaces are included in a routine home inspection. However, if you only need your crawl space inspected and not the rest of your home, you can ask a local home inspector if they’re willing to do a limited inspection just in that area.