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‘Crawling Back To You’(and the fine print in Pier and Beam Inspections)

Let’s be honest. Who hasn’t been unpleasantly surprised by those sneaky small words at the end of a document or contract? Generally referred to as the small print, these sentences more often than not contain some less positive information in what otherwise seemed to be a very positive proposition.

So in our interest of always being straightforward and honest we want to talk about inspections; specifically about Pier and Beam. Now I’m sure you have seen us advertise free inspections in both our website and our videos. And while this is completely true for houses with Basement and Slab on Grade foundations, it is a little different with Pier and Beam, and here we will explore why.

We have previously talked about the difference between these three types of foundation, so we will not go into detail here. Suffice to say that given the nature of both Basement and Slab on Grade foundations, Inspections are pretty quick and straightforward.

For Pier and Beam foundations however, the process is much slower, much more painstaking and it also involves risks to the inspectors. For those of you who have a house with a Pier and Beam foundation, you will be well acquainted with your crawlspace. Even if you’ve never gotten in there, we are sure you’ve taken a peek every now and then. It is not a nice space to put it mildly.

First and foremost a crawlspace should have at least 24 inches of clearance and most of the time this is not the case. Even houses which were constructed with that clearance sometimes find themselves with a more reduced crawlspace. Why? The dirt and garbage and other residues both organic and inorganic that have gathered for years and create a thick layer that will most likely reduce the space. Now imagine having to crawl through all that. The accumulated filth, years in the making. Needless to say, it is quite slow and complicated and if we are being honest, quite unpleasant at times.

Now, once inside we have to check board for board, to see if there is any damage. Yup, board for board. And sometimes when the boards are bent out of shape they too can reduce the crawlspace quite a bit. And every time we find a board that’s rotting or bent, we will have to mark them, since they will have to be individually replaced during the repairs.

Then come the pipings. Pipings for hot water, gas, clean water and drainage water. Not only do they reduce crawlspace even more, but you obviously have to be very careful around them. Whatever happens you do not want to break any of those; although sometimes they already have leaks or are completely broken. In the best case scenario it is a clean water pipe. But even then, with all the filth accumulated you will end up crawling through mud. I don’t even need to describe what is like if the broken pipes were sewage lines or worse even, gas lines.

If that isn’t enough there are also all types of critters. Cockroaches. Not a problem if you are not disgusted by them (But honestly, who isn’t?). What can be more of a problem are spiders or any number of venomous insects. Truth be told, this once happened to a collaborator of ours. Suffice to say it wasn’t a nice experience to him.

But there are other dangers besides animal ones. Organic matter. Mold and other spores. Exposure to it can range from allergic symptoms to potentially life threatening symptoms if it spreads past your lungs. Therefore special equipment consisting of gloves, masks and even white suits in order to prevent these situations.

On top of that there might even be areas which are completely inaccessible and in these cases we explain to the owner that until the house is lifted we will be able to see what we’ll find, and that of course could alter the repair estimate.

All in all, a Pier and Beam inspection will take about 90 to 120 minutes. This is why, unlike other foundations, an inspection for Pier and Beam will incur in a small fee, which in case of being hired, will be reduced of the repair estimate.

Oh, and one final word of advice. If anyone offers a free estimate for pier and beam, beware! Chances are they will not be as thorough as we are. So don’t hesitate to give us a call if you suspect foundation damage; we will make sure to provide the very best service, from the very beginning.

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