Inspection Shows Water in Crawlspace

9 Replies

I am from California originally and the homes there are predominantly on slab foundations.  So I have little experience with crawlspaces.

I just received the home inspection of a duplex I am in contract.  The inspector has found standing water in crawl space, and more seriously, water intrusion on the back wall of the crawlspace. No damage to the foundation is evident yet.  He could not determine the cause of the water but saw stains on the blocks.  There is also slight mold on the floorboards so it would suggest that this space has had water for a little while at least.

The inspector recommended a review from a certified crawlspace/foundation company.  I am inclined to write my counter after inspection to include a request for the seller to obtain a report of the existing problem and possible solutions.

Even if the seller fixes it, how big a problem could it potentially be in the future?

Thanks for your thoughts!  I know this is a common problem but would love to hear solutions from experienced investors with more deals under their belt than I have.

There are a few of possibilities:

1) The foundation wall is compromised and is leaking water into the crawlspace where the water stains were indicated by the inspector. This will need to be remediated by a foundation company. Not as expensive as it would be with an actual basement, but still a pain.

2) The water lines are leaking into the crawlspace and causing an issue. That's a plumbing fix (obviously).

3) Insufficient ventilation in the crawlspace. This can actually contribute to both of the above problems. With a crawlspace there has to be sufficient ventilation for moisture to be cleared out from under the house (much like attic ventilation). If this isn't in place then condensation can build up and cause major mold/mildew issues.

As far as the mold that's there now you may want to have someone in-the-know give their .02 on whether you would need a mold remediation company to take care of that for you. I've heard that in many cases it can just be cleaned up with bleach water and the area painted over with Kilz.

Thanks Jim that is great advice.  Here is the next scenario in this deal.  I have requested the seller provide a foundation inspection from a certified technician showing where the water is coming from, if there is existing damage and how to solve for the future.

The seller has come back and said they will wait to see what is on the Appraisal for mandatory repairs.  I have been told that the Appraiser will probably not crawl under the house, in which case he will not see the water and thus not call for any correction.

Questions: 

Do I pay for the Appraisal knowing that the seller will probably not do this foundation inspection?

Do I pay for the Appraisal and then pay for the foundation inspection on my own.  Then, depending on the findings, I may be out of pocket for all these inspections of about $1,000 and then no deal if the seller will not repair?

If I do the foundation inspection, do I walk away if it shows a potentially expensive situation?

The numbers on this duplex really show well with a $300+ cash flow each month.  The neighborhood is great and these are really turn-key in every other way.  I could rent them tomorrow.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts on this.  I am just getting started on this path and I've been lurking in Bigger Pockets for a while.  The cumulative experience of this group is truly mind-blowing!

I have a crawlspace expert coming this week to give me a better idea for the mediation of the water and mold on the duplex.

I am now also in a contract for an SFR and guess what... they also found water (from a drain leak) and mold under this house. I have requested that the seller give me another week to arrange a mold remediation company to give me an estimate. The numbers still work even if I have to put another 3K into it.

What do other investors do when they find these things...water and mold, in their prospective properties.  Is this customary to find in homes of this age (20+ years) and just another part of the Rehab process?  Or do you all walk away because of the difficulty to remediate?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Hey Fene, I am also having a similar issue with a 5 unit complex with wet crawlspace. How did the inspection from the expert go? What did he recommend to fix the issues? Roughly, how much did he quote you on the job and what was the final cost of repair?

Thanks and Hopefully it went well!

Originally posted by @Fene Cartlidge :

What do other investors do when they find these things...water and mold, in their prospective properties.  Is this customary to find in homes of this age (20+ years) and just another part of the Rehab process?  Or do you all walk away because of the difficulty to remediate?

Fene, in my case, I went through this (and much much worse) when i purchased my primary residence, on the advice of an extremely poor property inspection.

#1 - There will always be some degree of mold - ventilation and moisture control is arguably the most effective approach in terms of cost/benefit and natural dynamics. I've also done the bleach/Kilz method.

#2 - Don't ever, ever encapsulate.

#3 - Pay attention to the insulation - In my case, 75% of it was falling off the floors and covered with mold. 

#4 - Examine the integrity of the vapor barrier, if there is (or was) one at all. The tar paper one installed on mine was original, and crumbling/exposing clay.

#5 - It seems obvious, but ensure that any dryer vents residing in the crawlspace do indeed vent out. In my case, the previous owner had rotting old plastic dryer vents which disintegrated.

#6 - More than anything, I'd have somebody who was structural engineer take a look at any foundation where there was even the slightest hint of water damage. In my case, the previous owner neglected the foundation for the better part of 12 years, which ultimately required $40k in repairs. 

A good rule of thumb for water issues alone - ARV * 75% is what you can expect to fix any major water issues alone (without respect to any other repairs the property needs).

 it could be as simple as re grading and or redirecting water from the gutter leader.

i agree with eric. as a home inspector, i see a lot of issues out there. water intrusion is an issue. it could be as simple as regrading the property, and fixing gutters. it could be as expensive as (re)placing the drain tile around the house as well. it could also be caused from leaking entry water lines ( supply) or a drain line leaking. finding the cause of the problem is essential of course. the fix is where the costs come in. if there is minimal or no damage caused from the water intrusion, the problem is not a huge problem. you MUST, MUST have a qualified foundation expert look at the property. even is he/ she finds nothing, it will still be worth the effort

All good advice thank you for your input. I backed out of this deal because the HOA found a sinkhole in the neighborhood. Too much water everywhere turned out to be the problem. This location was already in a floodzone so I was already only one foot in.

As always, Bigger Pockets offers a ton of advice - THANKS!

Great work on doing your due diligence. It amazes me how many people simply ignore water problems and live in these houses for years and years and then some poor ole investor comes along not paying attention and gets nailed. I think the old saying is correct but I am not sure whom it originated from "YOU MAKE YOUR MONEY WHEN YOU BUY NOT WHEN YOU SALE"   

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