Rot and termite damage, might be structural - who to call?
Help! We are very rookie homeowners. Two years ago, we bought our first house. It is a cute little place, built in the 1880s.
Before buying, we had an inspection and all of the mechanical systems checked out. There isn't much of a crawl space - about 6" to 12", as best we can tell - and it is completely inaccessible. (there was one small place in our mechanical room where you could see in) So, the foundation was not inspected.
The interior had been freshly painted -- there were no cracks anywhere. We probably should have taken that as a warning sign. There were signs of old termite damage as well, but also evidence of treatment and on-going monitoring. I guess we just assumed that any damage would have been fixed. We have continued termite monitoring service - no evidence of activity.
One problem noted was a large gap between our brick patio and clapboard siding on the side of house, with the potential for water infiltration. We had a few people out for bids on repairing this, but got varied views and price ranges. Yesterday, after reading a DIY article, I decided to clear the area out myself to prep it for urethane caulk.
The lowest clapboard has deteriorated significantly. But more distressing, I was able to see behind it in one place (a corner of the house) and saw a beam with termite damage. There were lots of pieces of rotted and insect damaged wood. Instead of sealing the area with caulk, I have now tarped all along the base of the house where it meets the patio.
Because we can't access the crawlspace, we don't even know what type of foundation we have. A waterproofing contract we had out earlier about filing the gap speculated that it may just be on mud sills.
Who do we call now? If someone had a fiber optic camera with a light, they might be able to see more behind the clapboard. Otherwise, my guess is that the floorboards in our dining room (the room above this area) would have to be taken up to access it. I'm concerned about calling a structural engineer first only to find out that they can't tell us much because of the inaccessible space. Thoughts?