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Home inspection shows gaps under sills,concerning?


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I am hoping somebody with the right expertise might be able to address some concerns I had with a recent home inspection of a house my wife and I are looking to buy.

I will write what the inspector wrote for the FLOORS/SILLS

Condition: -Gap under sills

There has been some damage to the sill plate in the past under the east living room. It appears that the sill plate was originally below grade and most likely rotted out. A poor attempt at a repair was made as the sill plate is elevated with little support in some areas as well as being very wavy. I recommend that you do further evaluation to determine if further repairs will be necessary.

Location: Crawl Space

Task: Further Evaluation Needed

Time: Immediate

I greatly appreciate any input! I would like to know if this is a deal breaker or if this is easily fixable. And if it does require a professional what would a rough estimate be for cost?

I live in British Columbia, Canada.

The house was built in 1984. The rest of the house is quite structurally sound. The one section/corner of the house sitting above these sill gaps was found to have level/straight floor inside the house. So no sagging yet.

Pictures:

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I hate inspection reports that have crap like that in them. The inspector should be able to look at an issue like this and say either, "Yes, this is a problem that you should have fixed," or, "No, this problem doesn't merit repair." Instead, you get the "further evaluatioon needed" wuss dance.

You're pictures aren't showing up yet. Without them, I can't offer any meaningful advice. However, I suspect that the worst case scenario is that someone might have to drive some steel shims under your mud sill.

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Plus we need more info - dirt floor in the crawlspace, or is it a concrete floor?

Does the house have proper gutters and downspouts? Does the soil slope towards the house where the sill was bad?

It is unusual for a 1980's home in your area to be built with a sill at ground level. So we think changes were made to grading afterwards which maybe brought the soil level up too high. Or the house maybe was a hack job from day one, but not likely. You want to be sure this trouble won't happen again.

Anytime there is work to do in a crawlspace, it becomes a problem of access and that means expense.

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Crawl space is dirt. Foundation material; poured concrete. Floor construction: Joists. Exterior wall construction: wood frame. Roof and ceilling fraiming: Trusses. 80% of the foundation was not visible at time of inspection.

There is a moisture barrier in the crawl space there but it only covers about 90% of the ground and needs to be extended to the foundation walls.

The lot slopes away from the house and there is eave mounted gutters and downspouts pointing away from the house. One of them is broken and pointed beside the house so that needs to be extended a couple feet.

There were a couple small cracks in the foundation but he saw them as little concern and simply to fill/seal.

That's all of the info for the foundation. I hope the reposted pictures help. By the sounds of it, the sill plate was underground originally, it started to rot out, so they replaced it and elevated it just above ground. Elevation was done poorly (obviously not U2):P, so there are not gaps there.

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Given the limitations of the photos, there's several issues I can make out.

The gap between the foundation and the joists leaves only the band joist to support the joist. Floor joists should bear directly upon the foundation walls. Install enough support to fill the gap and to take the load off of the band joist.

The exterior walls seem to be sitting directly on the concrete porch. The footprint of those walls should have been elevated so that rainwater doesn't come into contact with the sills and perhaps even enter the house by seeping beneath them. I don't know what you can do about it, short of taking the wall out and doing it over.

Headers should be installed where a section of floor joist has been removed. This will restore support to the joist ends. Additional spot foundations and piers may be needed directly beneath the joist ends/headers depending on how much weight is on the floor from above.

Last but not least...Your inspection report is worthless. Don't depend on it anymore. Go online and read sample report from other inspectors in your area then hire the best one. No more 'recommend further evaluation' crap. It's not hard to notice well written reports that tell you the basics: what is it, what does it mean and what to do about it.

Credits to Kurt M for that last line. It's the foundation of good report writing.

Marc

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To answer your questions 1) No, it is not easily fixable. As I said above, crawlspace repairs are very expensive because of poor access and general discomfort. You will need to pay a lot to have this repair done properly.

2) It appears from the evidence so far, that this house was not given a proper foundation to begin with. The grade is too close to the top of the foundation perimeter wall. The crawlspace was never excavated for proper access to all the corners under the house, and the vapour barrier was not properly installed. So the problems will not be over, even after this rotted sill problem is fixed.

3) Some hack artist has cut a joist and done nothing to compensate for it. Danger. There may be some hidden problems that haven't been discovered yet, such as where framing was cut for this plumbing pipe in the walls above, incorrect venting, wiring botch-ups, etc.

This house is trouble. I think you should be asking your inspector these questions, BTW.

Marc is being a little harsh about the report. I think it is a Carson Dunlop format. The report gives you the facts of what and where, and says to repair. We can't design the repair if it is not in our field of expertise. The HI is saying "Get estimates from a builder" in a round about way.

Let me put it in perspective.

A handyman working on his own time can repair just about anything, but if you intend to pay someone to grovel in the dirt under that POS for you, be prepared for some financial setbacks.

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I'm with Jim. The reporting on this item is near worthless. Lots of empty commentary, extra pictures that don't relate to this house, and no information to act upon.

Honestly, I don't think it's all that big a deal to repair. Folks act like some small deterioration on a sill means the house is going to China. Treat it, get rid of what ever caused it to decay in the first place, drive some shims under the sill, and the house isn't going anywhere.

I hate CD's system because of stuff like this. They take a concept, give you pictures that have nearly nothing to do with the specifics of this house, and leave you with.......nothing.....other than to call someone else to tell you if it's a problem.

It's possible that maybe it would be easier to repair from the exterior than getting in the crawl.

What's the exterior siding?

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OK, saw the blue vinyl.

Zip the siding, drive some shims in under the sill, treat the area, put the siding back.

If the concrete is placed up over the sill, that's a problem. Is the last pic with the 3 arrows the area the sill is damaged?

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The guy can't figure out why it was rotten, makes no attempt to figure it out so it doesn't recur, and tells the guy to find someone else to determine if it's actually a problem.

Lottsa pictures of conditions that don't apply to the actual problem, though.......that's a big help......not.

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Drive some steel shims under the mud sill below each joist.

Install some headers at the cut joist.

This is simple stuff, it's not a big deal.

What's the second picture with the three horizontal arrows supposed to be illustrating?

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The report isn't worthless. All the comments here are based on the inspector's photos which are pretty good, and I'm guessing all of Scuba's comments came from the inspector's report verbatim so those comments also have value as well.

It would have been nice if he told you this is not a big deal but he chose the safe, wishy-washy route which has led to your angst.

He recommended further evaluation and you are getting it here.

And I like the diagram. It gives the buyer who may be wholly ignorant of house framing an idea of what is going on. I would have erased most of the text.

I would like to know if this is a deal breaker or if this is easily fixable.

It's an easy fix.

And if it does require a professional what would a rough estimate be for cost?

$700 - $1200

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Hey, what about the sidewalks up against the siding? Is that an easy fix too? [:)]

Good chance the repair guy will drive a bit of plywood or OSB under that sill and call it done.

What about anchor bolts? Insurance companies are asking for anchor bolts nowadays. Earthquake insurance is probably void without them, but you still pay the full premium.

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Hey, what about the sidewalks up against the siding? Is that an easy fix too? [:)]

A few minutes with a jack hammer. Done.

Seriously, I see that condition daily. It causes problem in 1 out of a few hundred houses, especially when it's under cover as the one in the original post seems to be. If the issue is a real problem, there are a half dozen ways to address it. If it's not a real problem, go on with life.

Good chance the repair guy will drive a bit of plywood or OSB under that sill and call it done.

Possibly. That's why I get more specific in my recommendations. I know it's against home inspection canon and all that, but I actually say stuff like, "Put steel shims under the sill. Don't accept wooden ones." So sue me.

What about anchor bolts? Insurance companies are asking for anchor bolts nowadays. Earthquake insurance is probably void without them, but you still pay the full premium.

We can play what's-wrong-with-this-picture games all day.

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