Dirt-floored crawl space

jls001April 26, 2006

My husband and I are selling our ranch house (originally built about 1950). The house has a crawl space with a dirt floor, cement block walls and 3 vents. We've had an offer on the house and house inspector for the prospective buyers said there was "moisture" in the crawl space which was a problem and that it should be insulated. Our big issue is with the "moisture" problem. In 8 years, we've never had any standing water in the crawl space and it has never been muddy. We've probably been down there at least 12-15 times over the 8 years we've owned. The prospective buyers want to bring in one of those water-proofing companies who will look at the crawl space and allegedly give an "honest" opinion of what needs to be done and how much it would cost. According to the buyers the inspector said there was "moisture" on the cement block walls.

We offered to put down a 6 mil plastic layer, but that's just not cutting it for them.

Seeing that we have never had a water problem under there, we think they are being a bit ridiculous. Also, we are really doubtful that one of the water-proofing companies would EVER give a recommendation that nothing needs to be done. Prospective buyers are saying things like--take $5000-6000 off the price of the house (approx. $160,000) if you want us to take it as is.

We're thinking of just walking away and maybe putting down the plastic layer ourself as a "precaution" that future buyers might like.

Are we crazy? Is it likely that all future buyers are going to want a crawl space waterproofed (and maybe cement floored). My gosh, it is a crawl space not a basement.

Input very much appreciated!

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I would put down a 8 mil poly on the ground and put insulation in between the floor joists. That is standard for a crawlspace. When you put the poly on the ground make sure you lap it up the walls to the rim joist, staple it there. Also overlap any seams on the ground by at least 2 ft
That takes care of the problem of moisture getting around the seam.

IMO the waterproofing company is a bit of overkill.

The prospective buyers are just trying to find a way to knock down the price. They won't do anything with it after they buy it.

I lived in a house for 20 years where all I had on the ground in the crawlspace was a poly sheeting as a moisture barrier. The home inspector for the buyer did not see anything wrong with it. It worked very well as I had no moisture problems in the crawlspace.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 8:51AM
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We live in a 1960 Ranch house w/dirt floor crawl space. After we moved in 9 years ago we got estimates to cover it. One guy wanted to pour cement there, and would cost I think around $5k. Another basement waterproofing company wanted to come in and put a french drain around the entire basement and plastic in the crawl space for $20K!! I told him if I had 20K I would have redone my kitchen not the basement.

In the end my husband put down the plastic. It works fine. Perhaps you could print out some info on how laying plastic is an acceptable means of covering dirt crawl spaces to show prospective buyer.

Good luck

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 9:28AM
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From your description I assume you have no insulation anywhere in the basement? You probably have little or no insulation in the walls either.

I have a ranch here in NE built in 1952. It has no insulation in the walls but at some point the PO put insulation in the attic and between the joists in my partial crawlspace.

I agree with rjoh, they are trying to discount after the agreement. The real question is can you afford to lose this deal over 5k? Also, does your house exhibit any rot in the joists or rim joists? Is there any sign of insect damage? If not, then the moisture is not a problem. However, as a home buyer I would be more concerned with the lack of insulation, not the moisture barrier.
About all I would be willing to do is put down 6 or 8 mil poly and insulate the floor (and maybe attic, but if they don't ask, don't offer)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 8:53AM
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Our home was built in 1959 on a pier and beam foundation. We have an uncovered dirt floor. The real issue you want is very good ventilation. We have six vents. It is common to put a vapor barrier on the ground if you prefer. I would not insulate the floor joists as you for sure don't want to trap moisture in the crawl space. You could have a foundation company inspect your foundation to see if you have any dry rot in the floor joists. Tell your potential buyer you can have a vapor barrier put on the ground for a couple of hundred dollars. Short of that, I presume they are not the only buyers in the area.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 9:15AM
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Thanks for the input. My husband and I put down a 6 mil vapor barrier this weekend. Hopefully this is appealing to future buyers.

As to the issue of whether this was worth 5K or not. The facts are we paid $155,000 for this house 8 years ago. We are offering it for $166,900 now (started at $171,900 4 months ago). The market is very, very slow here as you can tell from the prices. We have friends who live in the greater Boston area who absolutely cannot believe that our house has appreciated so little in 8 years! We figure if we can get $164,000 to $165,000 we'll be doing good in this market (a gain of maybe $10,000 over 8 years), ugh.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 9:48AM
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Where do you live? I live in Columbus,Ohio and the newspaper keeps saying that the housing market in our area is sluggish. Not hard to figure out when there is plant closings and real estate taxes that keep going up....

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 10:37AM
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East suburbs of Cleveland.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 10:45AM
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No wonder house prices haven't gone up. With the auto industry in Ohio laying everyone off. My BIL lives up in Lorain and he's looking for another job. I ended up in Columbus after the semiconductor plant I worked at for 23 yrs in NW ohio decided to pull up stakes and move everything to Fla. Luckily I got top dollar out of that house. 2 bedroom on 2 acres. I CANT afford 2 acres of property in the columbus area without a 40 mile one way trip to work. There are at least 4 houses in my imediate neighborhood for sale. One has been on the market for at least 5 months now. Nice house, But I don't think they will get what they are asking for it though. My wifes got friends that work for Delphi in Sandusky. They are expecting the worse. I just thank the present administration in the statehouse and legislature for most of the problems in this state.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 3:47PM
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If you have any problems in your crawl space or basement, dont hesitate to contact Unitedcrawl. We specialize in these repair! Thank you!


Here is a link that might be useful: Unitedcrawl

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:50PM
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