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Crawl access conundrum.

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2006 home today. Built on a sloped lot with two full stories and a daylight basement at the rear half. Garage was on the main level and that left just a quarter of the footprint having a crawl space. So...nice 24x24 wall hatch to the crawl, about 7 feet of headroom in the crawl, and I couldn't figure a way to get into the damn thing!

Because the wall between the basemnt and crawl was mostly concrete, they had the hatch almost flush with the finished basemnt ceiling with the bottom of the hatch opening about 6' off the floor. On the crawl side the soil was about 5' from the bottom of the hatch. There was also a one-by "shelf" attached to the bottom of the crawl opening sticking about 12" into the crawl, and with no support. I have no idea what that was for but it was obvious it would fail or snap under any weight.

My problem is that, because the hatch was hard against the ceiling, I could not figure a way to get off my ladder into the access hole anything but head first, which would have me doing a handstand on the other side (assuming I didn't break my neck attempting that). Even if I managed that, and took a ladder in with me for my exit, I would then have the same issue getting out, but with an extra foot or two drop.

See diagram (I forgot to take a photo of the dumb arrangement)...

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I'll squeeze my way into some odd places but I'm not a circus act!

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I've had similar arrangements, without the shelf though. This is a common set-up when an addition gets built over a cistern or an old basement window is now the only access to under an addition with a deep crawlspace.

Set a ladder on each side of the opening.

Climb up the stepladder and lay on the top, with the access behind you.

Send legs through opening.

Slide back until a foot reaches a rung of the other ladder.

Exiting is head first.

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That's a 2-ladder.

Use the 21footer in the basement. Extend the 13footer two rungs on one side and three on the other, close it, push it through and onto the floor with the two rung side down, lean in, open it up and then go through head first walking down the inside ladder with your hands. Come out the same way, turn around, collapse the small ladder and pull it back through.

OT - OF!!!


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All suggestions appreciated.

Bill's might have worked with my LG as the step-ladder and the telesteps in the crawl. But the shelf was a wierd problem.

Brandon is obviously a bit younger than I am. I haven't done a handstand for many years.

Mike's...I'm sorry, I'm not "walking" down a ladder head first at my age. It's just not dignified. [:-eyebrow

Jim's...I actually considered something like that. The problem is that my LG has splayed feet almost 28" wide and wouldn't fit the hole even diagonally (I was being generous with the 24 x 24) and I wouldn't have much faith in the Telesteps as a plank. It would also, for sure, have broken the stupid shelf.

The crawl was only maybe 15' x 12' at the most and, fortunately, had a couple of good sized gaps in the barrier, one directly beneath the access. I say fortunately as I was able to get a good look at the soil which was bone dry. I had a very good and clear view of the rest and was also able to check the mudsill and anchoring near the access. I will be reporting it as only inspected from the hatch and recommending the gaps get covered, but I'm not actually horribly concerned I missed anything in this particular case.

Had it been an older home, a more complex crawl, or had any "indicators", and I was a lot, lot younger, I might have tried a run at a small trampoline and a flying Superman entry.

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Sorry, I would have to call that not accessible.

Just too dang dangerous for the risk involved. I have had a similar crawl on a large home. I was able to look in the access and with my light in hand I gave a look see from the opening. I reported exactly what I did and that I did not have safe access to the crawl.

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- Jim Katen, Oregon

Where do you guys get these cool graphics?

I don't know how Bill & Richard produced their drawings. I just copied Bill's, opened it in MS Paint and drew my little extension ladder. I think it took me about 45 seconds.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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