Crawl Space Water Problems

Your crawl space is full of water - Great!  What’s the best way to address the acute and chronic issues?  Let’s get to work!

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Water under your home can cause several issues.  Standing water for long periods of time can cause elevated air moisture levels which can lead to mold and fungi growth on wood surfaces.  Besides the indoor air quality concern from these issues, the mold and fungi can actually destroy the wood and cause structural issues with your home.  

Temporary water under your home or moving water can cause washout of soils critical to keeping the footings and foundation of your home stable. Neither of these scenarios are great for your home so let’s look at how to handle them if they happen and how to prevent them from happening all together.

Get the Water Out

If there is water standing under your home, get it out.  If there’s water standing, odds are you don’t have a sump pump, so you need to rent a pump to remove the water.  You can get a pump from most local equipment rental companies for less than $50. Tip - If you are under a severe weather storm or long term rain, save your money and wait till the rain stops.

Clean Up the Mess

Depending on the level the water reached, you may be looking at pulling out existing vapor barrier or even replacing HVAC ductwork and thermal insulation.  Don’t go ripping out material that isn’t damaged, simply because it got wet. Most HVAC ductwork can be dried and cleaned and this can save you a bundle. Once the majority of the water is removed, you will need some fans and potentially dehumidifiers to get the air circulating and pull out the remaining moisture.  Needless to say, all this is messy work so you may want to consider a local disaster or restoration company to assist you.

Prevent Future Damage

There are dozens of reasons water may have gotten under your home and we can’t talk about all of them here but the top ones to consider for future planning are landscaping and gutters.  If your home doesn’t have gutters, get them. If it does, make sure the downspouts are all directing the water at least 10’ away from your home’s foundation. Most gutter contractors don’t provide this and it falls somewhere in the gray between gutter work and landscaping.

Landscaping, drainage swales, driveways, sidewalks and even how pervious your soil is to water can play a huge role in keeping water out from under your home.  In general keep water flowing away from the home and identify problem areas that pool water. Just take a look outside your home in a big rainstorm and you will get an idea of the problem areas you need to address.

In closing, water under your home can’t be a good thing and the damage it causes can undermine your home’s long term value.  Signs of even past water events can set off a home inspector and a scare a buyer away before you know what happened. If you haven’t looked under your home in awhile, go take a look or hire an inspector to give you a professional assessment.  The investment will pay off in the future.


CL-100 Explained and How to Prevent them from Killing your Closing

Your closing process is going great, the buyer and seller agreed on home inspection repairs, the mortgage lender is thumbs up and all is right with the world, until…  

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A CL-100, aka a Wood Infestation Report, can really put a wrinkle in your day.   A little wood rot, elevated moisture levels, mold, fungi, termites, you name it -  a wood infestation report with even minor defects can set the whole closing process down a dead end road.  But why? After seeing thousands of home inspections and wood infestation reports and helping realtors and their clients navigate the murky water, we have a few bits of knowledge to share.  

Clear Letters

The first is the misunderstanding that a CL-100 must have a “clear” letter.  It turns out that this myth was developed by real estate agents as a slang term that the lender is asking for someone to resolve the issues on the wood infestation report.  All the lender is asking is for proof that the issues have been resolved. Furthermore, all that is required by a lender or attorney is an invoice from a licensed contractor stating the items that were repaired - not a letter.

Structurally Sound

The second and biggest one we hear from agents is “we need a letter stating the house is structurally sound”.  Think about this one for a minute. What contractor in their right mind would state that the whole house is structurally sound?  In fact, all that most lenders require is an invoice of what repairs were completed to eliminate items found on the wood infestation report.  

Don’t Wait

The last issue we see quite often is waiting too long to order the wood infestation inspection and report.  This one comes from the fact that the reports are valid for only 30 days. Perhaps your local realtor board should lobby to the state to get this changed but until then, here is a tip.  Order the report at the same time as the home inspection. By getting the report early, you can have your contractor review the deficiencies at the same time as the home inspection items.  If items need repairing, your contractor can hop on it and provide an invoice to satisfy your lender.  The lender cares about the problems being resolved, not the letter stating that some problems existed.

But don’t take my word for it, read the facts for yourself - Understanding Your Wood Infestation Report.  You will be glad you did and you might just save a closing that you would have otherwise lost over a technicality.


Three Things to Ask your Home Inspector

Buying a house can be one of the brightest moments of your life and one of the most stressful.  You will probably hire a home inspector at some point during the transaction and here are three things not to forget before they get started.

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Ask to see a sample home inspection

This sounds like a no brainer but very few people actually do it before hiring their inspector.  At PunchList, we see thousands of home inspections and they differ more in detail than you might think.  Some list all the deficiencies and lump all the photos together at the end (not ideal) and others show pictures annotated in sections with the text (this is what you want).  

Ask the inspector to detail ALL the deficient items

It’s very common for inspectors to write comments like this: Repair or replace all fogged windows. (Additional fogged panes may be present. Recommend a contractor evaluate ALL windows and replace all glass panels with failed seals.)  Basically, the inspector is saying, I don’t have time to look at every window so get someone else to do my job!  Here’s the thing, you are paying them to inspect and they should give you a thorough inspection.  Additionally, comments like these require you or your agent to spend extra time on resources to determine the details.  This just wastes everyone’s time for something that should have been detailed by the inspector.

Be present at the inspection

Alright, this isn’t a question to ask but it is something not to forget.  Home inspections range from $300 - $1,000 depending on where you live and how large the house is.  Most inspectors like teaching homeowners the ins and outs of systems like HVAC and electrical so take advantage of their knowledge.  Reading something on a report just isn’t the same as the opportunity to hear it from the horse’s mouth.  There’s also a good chance that this inspector performed inspections in your neighborhood and potentially on that exact same house.

Good luck on your next home purchase and remember to ask questions!


Why Your Crawl Space Will Come Back to Haunt You

Let’s start by stating the obvious - Crawl spaces suck.  They are dirty, wet and filled with spiders, snakes and creepy crawly things that you rather never see.  So that’s why you never go under your house.  For most of us, the last time you saw or even thought about your crawl space is when you purchased the home and saw pictures of it on the home inspection.

You were buying the home and your home inspector noted how terrible the conditions were in the crawl space.  From there, your realtor got pricing to fix the mess along with all the other leaks, cracks and things not working.  You went back to the seller with a request to fix it or better yet, discount the price of the home in lieu of repairing it.  No big surprise that the seller didn’t want to fix it either and gave up a few thousand bucks to convince you to buy the home.  

Congrats, you are a new homeowner with money in your pocket to fix the issues.  The next thing you do is buy planter boxes, paint the front door and begin looking at how to remodel your kitchen.  Crawl space, what crawl space?

Here’s where the haunting comes in.

Fast forward 7 years later.  Now you are ready to collect on your hard earned equity and you put your home on the market.  You luck up and get a great offer and you accept.  Then the pain begins.  The buyer gets a home inspection and guess what?  Yep, you guessed it, your crawl space is in even worse condition than it was 7 years ago and the buyer is asking for big money to fix it.  Wood rot, saturated ductwork, mold and more await the next buyer if you don’t pony up.  

More than money

It’s not just the money you have to fork out, buyers have a tendency to get cold feet when they are faced with something big, hard to solve, and they don’t understand it.  The more dings on that inspection list, the more likely your buyer walks completely.  And the next buyer will have the exact same issues.

Stop kicking the can and get your crawl space repaired before you list your home.  Better yet, take the money the seller gives you at the closing and do it right away.  Then you will enjoy all the benefits of a healthy crawl space the whole time you live there.