As a home inspector, I see many different deficiencies with homes. Some big, some small, and some, well, just plain preventable. A couple of weeks ago, I performed an inspection on a new construction home in North Knoxville. My inspection started on the exterior as usual and progressed around and inside the home. In general, the house was in good condition with no major issues. After completing the majority of the inspection, I prepared to enter the crawlspace. The crawlspace or basement is always the last area of a home I inspect. This is for two reasons: I like to run all the fixtures, drain the tubs, etc. to check for leaks; this area is also the least desirable part of the process, so why not save it until last 🙂
I approached the crawlspace door at the rear of the home and open it slowly. Upon opening, I’m immediately hit with thick, humid air. Without going in to too much detail, warm humid air isn’t ideal in a crawlspace. There were likely several contributing factors involved in producing the high moisture. These factors could include crawlspace venting, heating/cooling ducts in the crawlspace, and the use of new lumber for framing. Again, all of these factors could play a role in the increased moisture; however, one missing element was particularizing concerning- the entire crawlspace floor was exposed. Crawlspace floors should be covered with a thick mil plastic called a vapor barrier or soil cover. The vapor barrier does what it’s name implies: limits moisture from the ground. Without this barrier, moisture from the ground enters the crawlspace and, with the help of the crawlspace vents being closed, becomes trapped.
This was the case with this particular home. The builder had neglected to put down the vapor barrier and, with a little help from mother nature, the damage began. I noted soaking wet insulation, wet framing materials, condensation dripping from wiring, and fungi growth. For less than half a day’s work and just a few hundred dollars, most-if not all-of this could have been prevented.
I share this story because after the report was delivered to my client, I heard an all-too familiar sentence, “I wasn’t going to get an inspection since it was a new home”.
Below you can view a few of the photos taken inside this peticular crawlspace: