Should dry rot in the floor joists be a deal breaker?

7 Replies

I found a property that could be rental ready with little more than $2000 not counting the following. There is a sunken spot in the living area and after looking under the house almost all the joists have some degree of rot. I think I could fix it but worry there’s more going on than I can see? First try at a deal btw. 1100sq ft property.

Hey @Scott Peters -

Dry rot is caused by a moisture/water problem ... we see it a lot around sinks and bathtubs/showers.  If you're seeing it on a widespread number of joists beneath the living room, I would guess that you're periodically having standing water in the crawl space.  This could be caused by a few things, but the common reasons I've seen are that the property either has drainage issues or it sits in a flood plain.

If I were you, I'd try to get answers to 2 questions before I would consider moving forward: 
1) are there mold issues anywhere in the property?
2) what's the source of water and how easy is it to correct?

Good luck!

Scott is right, it is usually a moisture problem. 


I small leak, can cause major issues, or an older home that the yard has built up and the ground under the house is lower than the yard.  these usually do not worry me.  I fix water leaks, I level and lift the houses, gutter the house and get the water away from the house.  

Fixing the floor joist, just by looking you cannot tell..  take a screwdriver and crawl under and check the board.  Many times you can sister lumber on each side, at least 4ft past the rot on each side.  


@Scott Peters are you sure it’s dry rot and not termites? Without knowing if indeed there could be water in and around the home, it’s worth investigating. If the damage is already done then in a funny kind of way termites could be a better outcome particularly if it was done many years ago. You could have a perfectly drained home but just joists from a past termite issue. Either way, yes looking into fixing. Good luck!

this is what I will say. unless you are a builder or have someone who can give you an accurate quote I would say that buying and fixing your first rental is going to be more costly than what you think. I have a 4 year degree and got my second on a duplex I bought. I am talking about the cost and the learning. But I would not trade it for anything. That experience paid off on the other properties I have purchased. I would look at it from the worst case scenario and if it cash flows go for it. If it cost you extra than say that is the cost of an education. One thing I have learned is if anyone tells you they bought their first one and it worked out perfect from the get go and everything has been roses since then I would probably run because odds are they are yanking your chain. The only way to learn is to jump in with both feet and do it. Yeah you are going to screw something up but that is part of learning. Those that never jump in will never know.