Should You Purchase a Home with a Damaged Crawl Space?

You'll want to speak with the previous owners about its condition.

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If you want to purchase a new home in the Kansas City, MO, area, you’ll want to ask the current owner about the state of the crawl space. While it may not seem as important as the other features of the home, an unhealthy crawl space can cost you a hefty sum if you leave it unrepaired. In some cases, it might not be worth it to purchase a home with a damaged crawl space, but you should always make a point of assessing that damage before you make your final decision. 

crack in crawl space

What Does Crawl Space Damage Mean for Your Home? 

Your crawl space may not make up much of your home’s square footage, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect the space. In fact, your crawl space has more sway over your home’s value than its size might suggest. 

Consider this: Your crawl space can take on a significant amount of moisture if it is left unattended. As you’re shopping for a new home, you may stumble across a homeowner who failed to invest in the waterproofing measures or repairs necessary to keep the crawl space in good condition. As a result, their home could have succumbed to the stack effect. 

The stack effect sees unpleasant smells and moist air travel up from an unkempt crawl space into the rest of a home. A damaged crawl space, in this way, can degrade the quality of life in the rest of the home but also expose sensitive materials like door frames, window frames, and glass to excessive moisture. As a result, these materials can begin to warp and fog. In turn, mold spores can begin to take root in cement and brick walls, not to mention a home’s insulation. 

In short, a damaged crawl space can lower the overall value of an entire home. While this isn’t so much of a bad thing from a home buyer’s perspective—as this kind of damage can lower the cost of a home—it does mean that you may have to invest in significant repairs should you choose to purchase the home in question. 

What Does Crawl Space Damage Mean for Your Health? 

A damaged crawl space does more than just put a home’s structural integrity at risk, however. Your family’s health can also begin to suffer if you purchase a home with an unkempt crawl space. The aforementioned moisture can spread throughout the whole of your home, generating mold growth in places you don’t expect. As that mold takes root, your family can begin to experience respiratory problems. Children with asthma may see their condition worsen over time, especially if you refuse to take action even after purchasing the damaged home. 

Does this mean you should avoid purchasing a home with a damaged crawl space? Not necessarily. As mentioned, homes with damaged crawl spaces tend to go for less on the market, as that kind of damage can also indicate damage done to the foundation of the home. As such, you can often purchase a home with a damaged crawl space or foundation for 30 percent less than its listed market price. 

However, should you choose to purchase such a home, you will want to invest in repairs as soon as you can. The longer you leave cracks and leaks alone in this kind of home, the more likely it is that the structural supports in the home will suffer. Similarly, your family’s health may begin to decline. 

Inspecting Your Crawl Space 

What should you be on the lookout for while inspecting a home that you want to purchase? As mentioned, crawl spaces that force the stack effect on homes tend to give themselves away. If you enter a home and notice an immediate increase in the humidity, you can ask the homeowner about the state of their crawl space. 

Other signs of crawl space damage to watch for include: 

  • Warping door frames 
  • Misted windows 
  • Unpleasant smells throughout your home 
  • Higher water or electric bills than usual 
  • Decreased water pressure throughout your home 
  • Insects or unwanted animal invaders 

Note that these symptoms can also indicate damage to a home’s foundation. Should you choose to purchase the home that you’re inspecting, it is in your best interest to work with area contractors to invest in a thorough inspection and repairs as soon as possible. 

Protecting Your Crawl Space from Damage 

After you fix the damage done to your new home, you’ll want to determine what kind of waterproofing measures might help you prevent the same kind of damage from reappearing in your crawl space later down the line. Again, you can work with area contractors to craft a budget and determine what measures fit within your financial boundaries. 

Some of the most effective waterproofing measures for your crawl space include: 

  • Interior drainage coupled with a sump pump 
  • Full encapsulation with a vapor barrier 
  • Waterproof insulation 
  • Dehumidifiers 

Note that all of your repairs should be completed before you start investing in potential waterproofing measures. If you install these measures without first filling a crack, fixing a leak, or otherwise giving your home the TLC it needs, the problem festering in your crawl space or foundation may only get worse over time. 

If you want help determining whether or not the home you’re interested in purchasing has a crawl space problem, the contractors serving the Kansas City, MO, area can help you out. The experts at Foundation Recovery Systems can assess the home in question for signs of damage during a free inspection, and then offer you a free repair quote on potential fixes, thereby determining what expenses you might be able to deduct from the initial cost of the home.