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The Inspector as Rodent!

     Everyone can relate to how “inhospitable” crawl spaces can be, and I am not going to delight you with more horror stories typical of those places.

     This is more about what contortions your inspector will endure to get him or her self into these spaces; and what limitations are logical and necessary to keep them out of the “hospital.”  Obviously, the fire department cutting through the living room floor to retrieve a stuck home inspector would be very embarrassing no matter what the inspector found-----it would be good blog fodder though.

     For me it is my head and shoulders----an opening of 8” by 14-1/2” will do.  If I can get my head and shoulders through the opening----I am in there.

     So what about heating/cooling ductwork in crawl spaces?  Most inspectors are usually dealing with how to get around, over or under these installations----without doing more damage to them than the last wanker did.

     But what about the INSIDE of the ductwork----does your inspector go INSIDE the ductwork if he can fit?

     Well of course I am kidding----sort of.

Seattle----land of houseboats     In a recent inspection of a houseboat of all places, I had to inspect a crawl space that was the heating system plenum----the cold air return to the furnace.  This was not the first houseboat that I had inspected but it was the first that had a crawl space (it was also not the first heated plenum I have inspected).  It is kind of weird to be in a crawl space that you know has water slapping against the foundation all around you.  The floor of the crawl space was at water level or a little below.

     One might think that this crawl space would be a water nightmare, but in reality it was one of the driest crawl spaces I have been in for quite a while----and no vents either----a great example of why venting of crawl spaces is unnecessary and should not be allowed.  By making this space what we called “conditioned” space it ultimately has no higher moisture levels than anywhere else in the house----assuming there are no plumbing leaks to fill it up.  This space has performed as designed for 26 years.

     The problem with the installation is that clearances throughout the space (1000 sq ft) were a little less than desirable----with less than 14 inches from the floor to the joists above.  When there is this little room, I am more than likely accurate in assuming that no other inspector has considered the space “accessible” since it was built 26 years ago.  This just reinforces even more the importance of me being the one that gets to do it.  It did make me wish I had a little rodent home inspection assistant like my buddy Steve.

     But no-----I get to be the rodent.

Me as plenum rodent

Charles Buell

 

 

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Comment balloon 57 commentsCharles Buell • February 26 2009 08:55AM

Comments

It is a good thing that you are not afraid of tight spaces! That does not look like fun.

Posted by Brent Johnson (Chase International South Tahoe Realty) over 9 years ago

8"x14 1/2"????? Thats smaller than a crawlspace vent opening. I would really like to see you squeeze through that. That might even be worth the cost of admission.

Since I have never been on a houseboat, I had no idea how they are made. Pretty cool.

Posted by Jack Feldmann (Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Brent---nope, tight spaces have never bothered me.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jack----there are several different approaches to floating these things.  The early ones were just on giant cedar logs (there are still a few)----the newer ones---like this one are a reinforced concrete tank filled with foam and capped with concrete.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jack---regarding the size of the opening.  that was the size of the one I am going through in the picture and there were 3 of them in the crawl space and I had to go through each one twice.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I am surprised there was a crawl space in a houseboat!  I have heard of inspectors refusing to go into crawl spaces that were very accessible.. Not fair to the people writing the check!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 9 years ago

Robert, we have had claustrophobic students----not a good thing for a home inspector.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I have nightmares that look like that....

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 9 years ago

Karen, I hope you are wearing a dust mask:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles - This would be #1,870,413 on my list of reasons why I am an agent and not a home inspector.  I couldn't even conceive of doing that.

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) over 9 years ago

Matt it is truely amazing how many different definitions of "fun" there are!:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I have squeezed through small attic access scuttles, but never have I inspected the inside of duct work. You know it's tight when you have to take off the tool belt to get in.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Charles, I think you may want to consider using the "crawl space" photo on your business cards.  And where the heck is nusty when you need him?

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Charles,

     I guess me being from Arkansas I had never thought about house boats.  Never crossed my mind that you would actually inspect one or sell one for that matter.  Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Joshua & Kathy Schmidt (ERA Henley Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Charles, I'm voting for home inspectors charging more if they have to go in spaces like that.  In fact, I admire anyone who can crawl around under a house or boat!  You need to use that picture for your blog!  It would attract more attention than Elvis.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

Charles,

Gosh!  That was a tight space.  I couldn't be a home inspector, I can't stand insects and snakes, but I am glad others can do it!

Posted by Mary PAUL, ABR, CRS,GRI, e-PRO, (RE/MAX Advantage Realtors, Searcy, AR) over 9 years ago

James for me tight is when I have to take my glasses out of my inside pocket to get through the hole:)

Alan, OK---I will try it:)  Nutsy is everywhere when you don't need him.

Barbara, the problem is that there is no way to know until you are on site----usually:)

Mary----if we had a lot of poisonous snakes It would make me nervous too.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Crawl space in a house boat? Sounds to me like a fairly ify proposition.  Yoy can have all I get.  I don't even like the ones on dry (or somewhat dry) land when they are that small.  I do them just prior to getting stuck.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago
Mine are always stuck to my face.
Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jack some of them you would need scuba gear to inspect:)  I have seen them on the old cedar logs where the logs are completly submerged and the house sits on posts on the logs----all water underneath.  Needless to say I do not have scuba gear and am not much of a swimmer:)

Jamew----good plan---but mine are only for reading---I hate wandering around the crawl space with everything out of focus:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

That looks much preferable to the crawl spaces that I have been in.  When I was inspecting, I actually liked it when there were crawl spaces since that's where you find most of the defects. I agree that you should use this photo on your advertising.

Posted by Steve Hall, Make the Call to Hankins and Hall (RE/MAX United) over 9 years ago

Charles, love the photo of you inside the crawl space.  But I wonder who took the photo?  That must be where the rodent comes in, eh!

Your blog is now featured at http://activerain.com/groups/virtualoffice -- Regina P. Brown

Posted by Regina P. Brown, M.B.A., Broker, Instructor (MBA Broker Consultants) over 9 years ago

Regina----thanks for the feature!  I knew someone would ask who took the picture----that would be the cameras time delay function:)

Steve---you are right this was a dang nice crawl space except for the clearances.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

Is that a re-inspect. I believe that, when I was running your firm in December, I inspected that same houseboat. Tell Mr Alan that I been there and done that.

Nutsy, a real rodent in a houseboat

PS-- you should be wearing gloves!

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I saw that coming----nice gloves by the way:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

8" by 14-1/2" and right on the water. Wow ... I'm just over 5 feet tall  and 120 lbs. Not so sure I would do it. I do say this from the heart ... "Charles, Better you than me". The picture is priceless.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

Suesan---try this one.  Back when as a builder I used to insulate attics, I would cut a hole in the roof so that we would not have to run the insulation hose through the house.  The smallest hole we would cut for access was 12" x 12"----so that we could cover it with a roof vent when we were done.  It was never easy---but I got pretty good a wiggling through that hole:)  An 8x14 is way easier.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

Brag, brag, brag about tight fits. I could take all of my living relatives through a 12 x 12 inch hole...all at the same time. I have hundreds of relatives.

Nutsy at the keyboard...please.... you are not that scrawny.

 

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I can name that tune in 3 notes.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Nutsy---speaking of fits---have they stopped yet?----are the new meds working?

Alan---even when they are all the same?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

So, you've gone from DB Cooper with glasses to Hannibal Lecter with the (very cool) face mask!  That has to be one of the more interesting avatars on the AR site!  14.5 inches you say?  Do you transform into Elongated Man when you need?!  I can see where that superpower can come in handy as a home inspector!  You have broadened my horizon and enlightened my world!  A gracious thank you!

You are right, and despite the Nutster's claim otherwise, you are almost certainly the first home inspector in there, well, the first anybody in there, since the 12 year old who put in that duct work.  You da man!  You da Elongated Man!!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Nice space.  Would be a great fit.  Too dry...

 

Very kindly,

 

Croakster

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Shuwah!

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Jay---just call me gumby:)  By the way, all of the ductwork, and plumbing was installed prior to putting down the plywood deck---no 12 year olds involved (hopefully).

Croakster---I would love chasing you around in there.

Alan---do you actually remember that old show "Name that Tune"?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

why yes, Charles... I am just that freakin' old

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Hey Alan that is Elvis. If your old enough for Elvis, you're just that freakin' old.:)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

It makes sense that the crawl space on a house boat would be the driest because they would have taken the most precautions against it.  And if someone does do a blog about getting stuck and freed from a crawl space... there better be pictures!

Posted by Tony and Libby Kelly, CRS, ABR, ePro, SRES, CLHMS, CDPE (Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere) over 9 years ago

Guilty as charged, James.  Guilty as charged.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Tony---one would like to think that greater precautions were taken----for sure.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles, I see you did use the picture!! It is scarier than a dead raven!  I'm not getting comments back so didn't see all this delightful Nutsy dialogue.  What am I doing wrong?  I just went up there and clicked notify me of comments and it said subscribe.  When I clicked subscribe it said I'd asked to quit being notified about this blog update or comments.  LOL

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

@Barbara - they don't want us to follow - to where no man/squirrel has gone before... or should I say where many men have gone and gotten stuck (not the slippery squirrels) . BTW Hope you will keep your new photo on you profile - I love it! ~Rita

Posted by Brian Burke, Broker & Advising Expert-Denver Luxury Real Estate (Kenna Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I'm getting claustrophobic just looking at that photo. Who was on the other end to snap that pic?

Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 9 years ago

Barbara you better listen to Raven:)  I only get comments notification on my own posts---pain in the butt

Raven DeCroe

Thanks Rita----I will keep it for a while anyway.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jim----I was alone with my camera and its timer function:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Some days one is better off staying in bed.Jeez Charlie!

You da Man!!!  8in. by 14-1/2in! That's tight.

Here's me getting all 262 pounds through a hatch that's 9in by 20in. The client was convinced that I'd never get through the hatch let along thorugh the entire crawl. We B sick, Bro!

Mike O'Handley, Editor - The Inspector's Journal (TIJ)

Posted by Mike O'Handley (Your Inspector Inc.) over 9 years ago

Mike---you got me by 115 llbs---so proportionally that is probably about right----yup----we be sick:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Alan and James - forget Elvis.  That's ANN MARGARET!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

This is why I come to an inspector's blog.  I have more respect for you all everytime I read the stories on posts like these.  Thanks.  Thanks for being brave enough to do it and good enough to explain it all to me and my clients.  We may hate handing you a check, but we do love your work.

HOORAY FOR INSPECTORS!

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) over 9 years ago

Jay---don't think about Ann Margaret,----don't think about Ann Margaret,---don't think about Ann Margaret,---don't think about Ann Margaret,---don't think about Ann Margaret:)

Matt, thanks---most of us do try to go the extra mile for our buyers. 

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Don't have much trouble getting in or out, it's the d__n turnaround that gets me. The dog doesn't care much for water, so I don't think he'd like boats.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

Charlie - Your looking very serious! Was it the fear of the unknown? I love that picture ! 

Posted by Carol Culkin, Overland Park (Reece & Nichols) over 9 years ago

I would say inside ductwork in a houseboat is "going the extra mile" . good Job Charles!!!

But tell me... did you also put on scuba gear to inspect the underside of the houseboat too?

Posted by Kevin Corsa, H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector (H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)) over 9 years ago

Jack, you are right----the turn arounds are a pain----I hate when I have to back all the way out:)

Carol----glad you like the picture---I will probably keep it up for a while:)

Kevin----no scuba gear for me!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

WOW...You do this for a living? You must really enjoy your job. Hats off to you for doing what you do.

Posted by Shelley Kreutzer (Community One Realty) over 9 years ago

Shelly---a living?  Purely for fun:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

If you weigh 115 pounds, you weigh a lot more than me.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Nutsy---I see you have amazing math skills as well as nice gloves.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

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