Home Buyer’s Guide to Under the House

What to Know About Below the Home

As a prospective home buyer you may be charmed by a kitchen window view of a cherry tree or a great floor plan for family living and entertainment. Your real estate agent mentioned the superior rating of the local school and a lovely park in walking distance.

A professional home inspection will save you from buyer’s remorse, especially with older homes. Your professional home inspector goes where most property owners never go—below the home. It’s possible that the current owner never looked under the house.

Crawl spaces and basements can hide structural damage that affects the entire soundness of the home or hide infestations that weaken the structure. Hidden condensation and standing water can pose problems for the structure and health hazards for your family.

When your home inspector goes below, he’ll be looking at major factors that create a difference for your buying decision.


The foundation bears the weight of the entire structure. Any weakness in the foundation can cause major issues with any other supporting structures like floors and walls. It is natural for older homes to have some settling. Your home inspector will determine the extent and whether it threatens the overall soundness of the home. Foundation repairs are costly. Any weakness and the cost of the repair will impact your buying decision.

Condensation, Mold, and Mildew

Ventilation, foundation cracks, and faulty plumbing can all lead to mold underneath the house. Any time water is present, it is a breeding ground for toxic mold infection. Not only is mold remediation expensive, preventive repairs to remove the cause of mold growth can be costly as well, with no guarantee that the mold will not return. Toxic mold is a health hazard for anyone living in the house.

Standing Water

Standing water under the home can indicate problems in other areas of the home. A roof or skylight leak can trickle down the walls of the home and end up underneath the house. Hidden plumbing leaks also follow gravity’s trail to end up under the house. Standing water can also indicate a high water table in the ground. Sometimes this can be relieved by installing a drainage system and sump pump.

Termites, Wood Beetles, and Mice

Almost every home may have a mouse or two. Mice can chew through electrical wiring or infest heating and cooling ducts. They are a nuisance but can be eradicated. Insect damage from termites or wood boring beetles can impact the structural soundness of your home. The extent of the infestation and the cost of eradication and repair impact your willingness to invest in the home.

Electrical Wiring and Plumbing

Older homes can have electrical wiring systems that need updating to bring them up to code. Wires that run under the house can show wear and damage that are not noticeable in the structure above. The same goes for older plumbing with pipes that rust or older plastic systems prone to burst.

Home Inspection for Your Buying Decision

If your home inspection reveals any of these issues, it’s up to you to decide if you want to take on repairs or restoration. Your home inspector can give you an idea of the work and cost involved. If recommendations add up too much, your home inspection just saved your thousands of dollars.

If you are considering buying a home in the Bay Area, schedule a home inspection. Contact us today.