The crawl space may be the most important area not to overlook during the home buying process.
When someone starts the home buying process, they will first research the kind of home they are looking for. During this process, you’ll see tons of pictures of homes on the internet, or in real estate magazines, showing you all the beautiful angles, lighting, the new flooring, etc.
These are the pictures that were carefully chosen to make you want to see the house for yourself. But are these pictures telling the whole story? Some houses look beautiful online, or even in person. But, is the fresh new coat of paint, the brand new flooring or those nice new cabinets hiding something?
A home inspection and mold inspection should help uncover any concerning areas that you aren’t seeing. The most important area of all is the out of sight, out of mind crawl space. The crawl space is important because it tells the story of what has happened in the home above.
If the home has brand new kitchen cabinets, how would you know that there was a major leak in the kitchen at one point? The answer to that question for the most part is, check the crawl space. When you see a major water stain on the sub-flooring below the kitchen plumbing, or bathroom, shower, bathtub, you know there was a leak there at one time.
That type of clue tells our mold inspector to check these areas more closely when inspecting the main floor of the house. The cabinets may have been changed out, but was there saturated drywall caused by this leak? Water intrusion under the flooring? Behind the bathtub? These things are easier to notice by checking the crawl space.
A home can look beautiful when you first walk in, but if the crawl space is unhealthy looking, then there may have been some problems that aren’t noticeable at first sight that will require mildew removal. Other signs of an unhealthy crawl space, which could be signs that something on the main floor is being covered up, are wet, hanging insulation, the lack of a proper moisture barrier, standing water in the crawl space, detached duct work, lack of foundation vents, lack of a sump pump (when necessary), termite trails, insects, wood rot, soft, or rotted sub-floor, and of course, mold.
When an unhealthy crawl space is detected, it tells us mold inspectors to look very closely at the inside of the home and make sure something isn’t being covered up. Just because the walls are newly painted, doesn’t mean we won’t test the walls for moisture, or saturation. Just because the bathroom cabinets are new, doesn’t mean we won’t check the flooring for signs of possible water damage, and so on.
A healthy crawl space can help lead to a healthy home. Air rises and about a third of the air in your home (some say even more than that), seeps up through your floorboards, vents, duct work, from the crawl space. That means if your crawl space has a mold problem, your indoor air quality will be affected.
Bottom line, have a certified mold inspector inspect your home for mold before purchasing a home. Have your home, including your crawl space assessed and find any potential problems before they become your new problems. It could mean thousands of dollars in savings to you for the small cost of a mold inspection. Enjoy your new home when you move in, without any moldy surprises popping up unexpectedly.