Damn, we’re in a tight spot!

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     One of my favorite movies is “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”  In the movie, Everett, played by George Clooney, says, “Damn, we’re in a tight spot,” whenever he and the boys find themselves in the middle of one predicament after another.

     During the field training portion of the Home Inspector Training course at Bellingham Technical College, we routinely encounter crawl spaces that must be inspected.  At a recent field training inspection, one of the students was probably saying to himself, “oh brother, where art thou,” as he snapped this picture of me, “in a tight spot.”

In a tight spot

     Many inspectors are not able or are not willing to get into spaces like this.

     It is up to each inspector to figure out what is safe for them to enter—-as well as their own limitations.  They also must learn how to write about the areas they could not inspect in their reports. 

     This particular crawl space was a great teaching tool because I was able to photograph serious structural damage that could only be seen by entering the space.  The following picture shows the rim joist and the sub-floor all along the rim joist completely rotted away.  It looked like this all along the ten foot length of the crawl space—-approximately 8 feet behind me in the first picture. 

Hidden decay

     Later I could show the students dramatic pictures of how important it is to cover in the written report the fact that they did not inspect the space.

     In Washington State, if the Licensed Home Inspector is a Licensed Structural Pest Inspector, we are mandated to call for proper access to be made and that the space be properly inspected when access is made.  It is currently vague as to whether a Washington home inspector that is not a structural pest inspector would be required to make this recommendation.  This is another example of the importance of hiring an inspector that maintains both licenses.   

     It is also a good idea to advise clients of the likelihood of hidden conditions in spaces like this. It is also a good reminder of the fact that there will ALWAYS be areas of every home that will have limited or no access.

     If the inspector cannot get in there, it is highly likely that no one else has been in there for a long time either.

Charles Buell


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