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Clearance between crawlspace floor and framing


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I've been reading this forum for awhile but this is my first post. I don't know if you guys stop reading after a paragraph or two so I apologize in advance if its a little long winded. I'm looking for advice pertaining to an inspection I did a week ago and went out to recheck again today.

This was a new construction, completed home with a suspended concrete basement floor. Only the first third of the crawlspace below the floor was accessible due to minimal clearance between the soil floor and the above floor framing. All of the framing members where steel, no wood, but the clearance to the ground was 6" at best. I'm having difficulty finding exact clearance standards and figured someone here would likely give me a good answer sooner than later.

Prior to showing up at the house today I was lead to believe that the builder dug out the crawlspace to provide proper clearance and provide access for further inspection. Well, there was a small indention dug below the first beam that allowed my very skinny body(not bragging, I'm small) to slide through that gave me another 10 feet or so until the next beam. While in the newly accessed area I was able to see that the main waste pipe was seriously lacking sufficient slope but thats a separate issue.

Anyhow, to get to the point I basically told the folks that there is still little to no access to most all of the crawlspace for inspection let alone any potential repairs, likely lacking required clearances and so on. I know for certain that the builder is going to call me and want to talk about this as we've spoken in the past. The conversation basically went, "We got our C.O., whats the problem?" I'd like to at least be able to provide some solid argument regarding the minimal clearance, accessibility issues etc. Any advice on this would be appreciated.


Denver, CO

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Well, here's a requirement for the minimum entrance dimensions. Is there any mechanicals, considered an "appliance" under there? How about any plumbing devices that need to be accessible?

R408.4 Access. Access shall be provided to all under-floor spaces. Access openings through the floor shall be a minimum of 18 inches by 24 inches. Openings through a perimeter wall shall be not less than 16 inches by 24 inches. When any portion of the through-wall access is belowgrade, an areaway not less than 16 inches by 24 inches shall be provided. The bottom of the areaway shall be below the threshold of the

access opening.

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There's no solid reference in the IRC to back you up. I'd probably say something along the lines of, "There's only 6" of clearance in the crawlspace. If someone ever needs to get down there to make repairs, he'll first have to excavate soil to create access. This will be expensive and time consuming. I suggest you have it excavated now. It's always better to complete a task such as this beforehand."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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