Inadequate crawlspace

Old 05-10-02, 10:53 PM
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Inadequate crawlspace

My wife and I recently offered a contract on a wonderful house -- a house to which the current owner has made extensive additions. All was proceeding well until the home inpsector told us that there was inadequate (really, almost no) crawlspace underneath one of the added rooms. In addition, there is no concrete slab under this room. We have been told that the lack of either a concrete slab or sufficient crawlspace will prevent us from reselling the house on a VHA or FHA mortgage and that these problems may also prevent us from receiving a termite bond. We are also concerned about the potential for mold growth. One solution would be to take up the present floor and pour a concrete slab. Another solution would be to have a crawlspace dug. I hope someone out there may have some helpful thoughts on this matter. I appreciate your advice very much. Except for this one problem, we love the house and its price. Thanks!
Old 05-11-02, 12:59 AM
Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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This is a very significant defect, unknown to you when you bargained for the house at current price, although you say you love the house and price.
In my opiniion, the best solution is to rip out the flooring, have the ground, perimeter foundation and all supports treated for termites by a professional company, and then pour a slab.
I once sold a very nice home with an addition very similar to this. They even ripped out the floor joists, put down a moisture barrier and replaced the joists with pressure-treated wood before pouring the slab around and under them. Then they rebuilt the flooring with pressure-treated plywood subfloor and floor. (This was just that particular contractor's solution and done at seller expense, prior to closing. A solid slab might have been better.)
Digging a crawlspace might work, depending on where this home is, but if it isn't in a desert area, you probably are going to have major moisture problems if you do. You most likely would have a mold and rot problem, even with a deeper crawlspace. You definitely will, if this is left as-is.
The seller created this problem, or allowed someone to create. It is a major problem, and "do not buy a major problem", unless you're getting the property for that much less than the appraised value, and can afford to immediately correct it yourself.
NOW is the time to have this rebuilt properly...BEFORE you proceed with closing. This is more than adequate grounds to back out and receive your earnest money back, so you're in control here for renegotiating the agreement.
Since I don't know the specifics of your transaction, I can't specifically advise you, but personally, I would get licensed contractor quotes to have this corrected at the seller's expense, or I would not close on this house.
The seller doesn't necessarily have to pay for this prior to closing, if the contractor agrees.
After final loan approval, the work can be completed pending closing, and then the contractor can be paid at closing by the closing attorney from seller proceeds. (Best. Seller deals with it.)
Or, the closing can be held, the funds can be escrowed from seller proceeds, the work done to your satisfaction, and then the contractor can be paid. (Second best. You deal with it.)
Also, whenever buying a house, have the closing attorney prepare a Labor and Material affidavit and indemnifacation agreement for the seller to sign, which will protect you from any cause or claim from previously contracted labor or material suppliers that might arise for work done for a certain period (120 days in NC, for instance) prior to closing.
Consult an attorney before you proceed any further.
You should be able to work this out, if the seller is willing. The seller will have to deal with this now or later, in any case.
Let Jack The Contractor, the forum moderator here, give you his professional opinion on this for the best solution.
Good luck!

Last edited by Mike Swearingen; 05-11-02 at 01:15 AM.

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