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Wet crawlspace questions in zone 6A

pcaff | Posted in General Questions on

I’m looking at buying this house and from the outside I was pretty excited, but that changed once I saw the crawl space. I’m eager for a project, but I’m wondering if the amount of work detailed below is really worth it in the long run.

In the crawl space there’s a little standing water in places. I’m unsure if that’s from the plumbing leaking or if that’s entering through the foundation. Someone had half heartedly put a vapor barrier down, but didn’t do a very good job. Many of the joists have rotted and were sistered at some point. The large carrying beam that spans the width of the house is also rotten in many spots and probably undersized. About half of the sill plates are rotten and the rim joists look VERY wet. Basically the subfloor, many of the joists, sill plates, some rim joists, and the beam would all have to get replaced. New footings would also have to be dug and new supports added to support the new beam. I’d like to do those repairs and then encapsulate the crawl space, but that can’t be done until the source of the water has been addressed. And that work seems to be the tip of the iceberg… 
The foundation is hollow block and around half of it looks wet. It looks straight aside from one 6 foot section that bows out maybe an inch total. 

My question is what’s the best course of action to remedy the wet crawlspace and to also fix the bowing section of the foundation?

The grade slopes East to West with the house in the middle. I’m guessing I’d have to excavate around the house, apply a waterproof membrane or paint on something, fill the trench with gravel, lay drainage pipe, and then refill.  Does the amount of work needed even justify keeping the house or would it just be easier to start over?

Any thoughts much appreciated!

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  1. onslow | | #1


    I guess I will only be the first to ask what about the top side of this neglected underside would lead you to consider purchase. If the asking price is less than half of what the curb side view would normally suggest for comparable appearing property, then maybe, if you like never ending misery and surprises it would be tenable.

    You have listed numerous red flag warnings of major expenses. The drain line appears to have been cut in the first photo, which may account for some of the water. This raises a question of past occupancy and current status. Did an evicted person do something to the house? Did they do more than is readily visible.

    Also, remember that any remodeling activity could well bring you the greatest surprise of needing to bring the house into current code. Nothing in the pictures suggests that would be easy. The structural decay seen in the photos suggest water and insect damage and numerous patches to support a critically ill floor structure. It is highly unlikely that the damage is constrained to what you are seeing.

    You might want to consider taking a pass on this one.

  2. Expert Member
    Peter Engle | | #2

    +1 on Roger's post. From what you can see, the house has major structural, plumbing and wiring issues. What you can't see will be just as bad. This house is a likely candidate for a total gut&rehab. The cost of that will be close to the cost of new construction of a similar house. Total gut&rehab is generally only a good idea if the house is nonconforming & you couldn't build the same thing in its place, or if there are some other extraordinary features that should be saved. If you are paying more than the land value, it's probably not a good deal.

  3. Jon_R | | #3

    A humidity meter/alarm in the crawlspace should be standard practice.

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