In the Bay Area, there are MANY different reasons for water in a crawlspace. Itâ€™s a very common occurrence that, if not properly remediated, can cause severe damage. There are three primary sources of water:
(2) Poor building and/or landscaping practices,
(3) Damaged plumbing systems.
As suggested below, water under the home can have the following effects:
(1) Make proper access to the crawl space very difficult, making it hard to properly inspect or repair the property,
(2) Promote the possibility of mold/fungus,
(3) Cause musty odors and air quality problems,
(4) Cause swelling in hardwood flooring,
(5) Promote deterioration of the foundation and subarea structural components,
(6) Promote subterranean termite populations.
There are a variety of reasons for water in a crawlspace â€“ here are some typical ones:
(1) Proximity to subterranean water supplies (streams, high water table). Homes near the bay can have high water tables; homes in the hills can have active subterranean water sources.
(2) Poor soil conditions.
BUILDING AND/OR PLUMBING ISSUES:
(1) Broken or leaking water supply lines or irrigation lines,
(2) Broken or leaking drain pipes in the crawlspace from showers, etc.,
(3) Water directed against the foundation (sprinklers, improperly designed or clogged gutters and downspouts, sloping landscaping, etc.),
(4) Improperly graded hardscape (sidewalks, patios, driveways, etc.)
(5) Soil piled against the foundations higher than the tops of the foundation walls,
(6) Lack of attention paid at the time of construction resulting in improper drainage around the perimeter of the property (foundations drains, French drains, active drainage systems for roof water, etc.)
If the water is coming from a readily fixable source, great! However, IF the source is determined to be environmental, then there are two fundamental methods of dealing with the moisture:
(1) Provide EXTERNAL remediation: divert water sources, add perimeter drainage, add French drains, coat the exterior of the foundation with water resistant coatings, etc. These are frequently the most expensive options.
(2) Provide INTERNAL control: active sump pump systems (recommend battery back-up options), drainage channels, vapor barrier (only as a last resort â€“ this can actually make the problem worse if not properly installed), dehumidifier systems.
FIND OUT WHERE THE WATER IS COMING FROM.
(1) If excessive water is called out in an inspection report (termite or property), discuss the situation with the inspector â€“ they will usually have opinions about the source, which, in turn, can direct your next steps.
(2) Based on their opinions, order additional inspections to verify the source. These could include:
a. Soils engineers
b. Foundation inspectors
c. Moisture remediation companies
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME IN YOUR CONTINGENCIES TO ALLOW FOR ADEQUATE INSPECTIONS.
(1) If you need additional time, have your Realtor prepare an Addendum extending your Inspection Contingency time periods.
(2) If the seller will not allow the extra time, move on.
GET COMPREHENSIVE REMEDIATION COSTS IN WRITING.
(1) Iâ€™d recommend getting two opinions â€“ they may differ quite a bit in scope and cost.
(2) Make sure the remediation costs come with guarantees.
Use the information gained to make an informed decision about the purchase of the home, including negotiation repairs or remediation. If the home is located in a hilly region, then ground water issues may point to move substantive issues such as soil instability. This could, in turn, lead to cracked foundations, sloping and a range of other extremely expensive issues.
It is very difficult to make suggestions without seeing the property; however, the solution to the problem may be simply making sure downspouts are directed away from the structure, the installation of a perimeter French drain (a trench with gravel), or a sump pump system under the home.
The vapor barrier is an indication that drainage has been an issue in the past; however, in regards to the "...standing water at the low area of the subarea from soil drainage under the vapor barrier", the vapor barrier itself may be preventing the natural drying process of the moisture under it.
*Asked sellers questions about the standing water for more description and general knowledge about drainage.
*Discussed issues with the Home Inspector. Asked if they thought there was mold growing. If any indication of Mold (a four letter word in Real Estate), then bring out a Mold specialist.
*Brought out an engineer and drainage specialist (most important) to crawl around in the subarea and evaluate the drainage. Cost is generally $250 for verbal consult and $500 for a written report.
Water in subareas is common in Alameda and can sometimes be a quick fix (i.e. install a sump pump, divert downspouts or sprinklers away from home). After all, the water table in Alameda is quite high. But at the same time, this could be a significant cost.
In my case for my buyers in Moraga, it is a $45,000 issue as there was a spring just yards away causing the issues and insufficient drainage. The end result is that the sellers wouldn't reduce their price and we walked away. Better safe than sorry!
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#3 Buyerâ€™s agent in all of Alameda and Contra Costa County
Not uncommon for this area. Recognize that standing water now, particularly not in rainy season could be a sign of drainage issues around the home. Foundations and wood can deteriorate over time when exposed to constant water. Also, fungus (mold) can grow and cause issues for anyone living in the home.
The questions become:
1.) How to assess what damage (if any) has been done to the structure due to the standing water?
2.) How to create (cost of) proper drainage so the problem is resolved?
Resources you can tap to find out the answers (not referrals - info only)
Hope this helps.
Good luck to you,
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