What is an Appraiser Looking for in the Crawlspace?

Last time, we talked about what an appraiser is looking for in the attic area.  This week, we will tackle the other issue that comes up often which is “What is an appraiser looking for when the crawlspace is inspected?”  Watch this short video to find out.



16 thoughts on “What is an Appraiser Looking for in the Crawlspace?”

  1. Pingback: What is an Appraiser Looking for in the Crawlspace? - Appraisal Buzz

    1. Hello

      99% of the crawl spaces in my area are not such that you can do anything more than lay on your belly and look in.
      Sitting up or even getting to your knees is not going to happen.
      As a result. I take two or three photos and what I can see in them is all you get.

      If the report is for FHA or US then I make a statement that the full area was not viewable and that the Appraiser
      can not make any statements about the area that was not seen. If the Lender or FHA requires a FULL INSPECTION
      of the crawl space they will need to obtain an inspection from a licensed person.

      Note, I do the same with the scuttle. There is no way I am crawling around up there with 6, 8 or 12 inches of insulation
      such that I can not see the wood frames to step on.

      Was the insulation installed properly? I don’t know, I’m not a contractor or a Home Inspector. If you need to know hire
      some one that would know if it was done right. All I can say it that it is there, DONE.

      What FHA should do is just require BOTH a Home Inspection and an Appraisal.

      In my FHA Reports I make NO CLAIMS regarding any thing is in Proper Working Order beyond`the fact that it turned on
      when I flipped a switch or turned a handle. My report clearly states that it did what was expected, but that the Appraiser
      CAN NOT claim that every thing was in proper working order and that the Appraiser recommends that the Lender and FHA
      obtain a FULL HOME INSPECTION.


  2. Was the insulation properly installed? I have seen considerable bat floor insulation with the pink or yellow fiberglass portion facing away from the living area and the paper part of the insulation material next to the living area. In many cases, there are actually instructions written on the paper portion stating that the paper portion should be adjacent to the living space. I guess in your area you could have the paper on both sides or be installed differently……..

    1. Having once managed branches for one of the nation’s largest insulation contractors, permit me to share some basics on insulation: The paper on floor insulation is bonded to the fiberglass with an asphalt backing. The paper is supposed to go against the floor where it acts as a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from entering the insulation. When installed with the paper on the ground side and the insulation against the floor, moisture is trapped. Mold and wood damage can occur over time. The correct is paper up, fiberglass down.

  3. When are appraisers going to grow a backbone and say enough is enough?! These extended requirements are beyond the scope and job of the appraiser. What about liability when some thing happens to the home in a couple of years and the homeowner sues the appraiser for something he or she missed in the crawl space or attic or the roof failed in less than 2 years? We are not qualified professional house inspectors. If FHA wants this done they need to require that the parties pay the fee for a professional inspection Let the appraiser do the job they were trained to do without the additional liability.
    After 42 years in this profession I refuse to accept this nonsense. IT’S NOT MY JOB!

    1. Richard Bronstein

      Good video, excellent comment. After over 50 years appraising the increased requirements make me doubt how long to continue the appraisal practice and certanley warrants increased fees.

    2. oops you missed some mold opps the owner saw a mouse after you left bam your sued. Darn snake or spider bit me under the house I cant believe i lost my business while in the hospital all for the minimal fee. What makes me a qualified home inspector? Thats why they have Home inspectors!!

    3. Old Dog, great question! I was open to continue doing FHA BEFORE Dustin’s video. Now Im thinking that with more than 70% of America’s appraisers over 55; and 60+% over 64 that the real solution is to file a class action lawsuit against HUD for age discrimination; and establishing policies that are not ADA compatible. IF I were fifty and still an agile scuba diver, my only concern would be getting an additional $250 above the current FHA rate for crawling under someone’s stinking crawl space. I figure THAT is the price of my dignity and for 15 to 30 minutes added risk to my health. Not everyone has a sense of smell either. (Seriously).

      The reason I changed my mind though is that I’m now 64; have health issues (heart, severe allergies to pollen and dust resulting in 2 to 3 emergency room trips to the VA a year when I completely lose the ability to breath through my nose due to acute sinusitis. I also don’t ‘bend’ as well as I used to. I never considered myself disabled before, but now apparently by act of FHA administrative rules, I am!
      IF I worked directly for HUD as a civil service worker, they would be REQUIRED to make accommodations to assist me. Even if that meant paying for another person to conduct the inspection while reporting to me via radio! (Seriously, they now have to have signers during group meetings; and even have blind IT folks working for the Feds). I am no different. ADA requires reasonable accommodations be made. Its unfair to ask the buyer or seller to pay for this. Obviously FHA should pick up the added burden of full compliance with ADA necessitated by their poorly planned new policies.

      ESPECIALLY since FHA is now REQUIRING that the ASHI Home Inspection brochure be given to all buyers before buying! ASHI inspectors are far more qualified than I am to inspect ANY part of the house. THEY are the ones that need to be doing this. Not a bunch of old men, mature women and young ladies & gentlemen that are dressed as PROFESSIONALS rather than mechanics in jumpsuits! The requirement for us to do this is an unnecessary redundancy and cost.

      In California, most crawlspaces (where they exist at all) are much lower than the one Dustin inspected. Nor are ground cloths and ground vapor barriers typical as shown in Dustin’s example (never saw one out here yet). For the next example, I wan to see Dustin do a 90 year old house in Pasadena near a wooded area. Mind the raccoons & rabid opossums Dustin!

  4. Ugh. Glad I live in the north. We have full basements here in 99% of homes, or at least if the basement is partial, its a small crawlspace visible from the wall scuttle. I’ve come across a similar crawl space as in the video only a handful of times, always old junky houses that were economically built before building codes tightened. I haven’t crawled in any of them or even peeped my head in – FT.

  5. Interesting in that here in New Mexico (Albuquerque) we almost never see crawlspaces or basements in homes less than 30 years old. Nearly every home is built on a slab. Per MLS, of the 8,404 detached homes sold last year in Greater Albuquerque/Rio Rancho, 119 have basements >100sqft. I’d guess maybe 4-600 more might have crawlspaces. Nearly all crawlspaces come fully equipped with spiders and centipedes.

  6. HUD/FHA requirements have NOT changes for Attic and Crawl space inspections. They are still HEAD/SHOULDERS ONLY. They are not requiring a full inspection and the appraiser is not qualified to make a full inspection. That is the call of a professional. The only change is that they require a photo of that head/shoulders access in the report. Which I have always done. This video is misleading and not accurate. If there is question regarding any condition or lack of access the appraiser, per HUD/FHA requirements, is required to call for a professional inspection. If you have proof in writing from HUD/FHA, please share here and to my email. Thank you

  7. This is complete bullshit. Dustin, if you want to make a video from a tall, clean lighted crawlspace, then good on you. But to infer that appraisers now have to crawl into them is erroneous.

    If you want to be helpful, please print a checklist for new FHA/HUD guidelines.

    I am not interested in paying for a continuing ed course on this.

    But from what I have researched, FHA has only relaxed its guidelines, just like the last time…

    Can you please write a coherent blog and list of major FHA changes? Thank you in advance, that would be most helpful.

  8. Tell is like it is Ms. Mary. Head and shoulders inspection of attic and floor crawl space only per FHA/HUD and VA. Disclose and Disclaim in every report including highly recommending a professional home inspector. My big, fat, old butt is not going to scamper around
    in these dungeons . Regroup Dustin!!!

  9. OOOPS, my bad. The new requirements call for a looksee of the entire crawlspace and attic. Right. Doug, my big, old fat butt is not going to enter these places either. Most full access is impossible, if not crazy. As if I am going to put on coveralls to crawl around a crawl space, it’s not going to happen. Not my job. Doug, my first thought was also to call for a home inspector on every report. Don’t want to be removed from the list, but seriously, even if I did enter and crawl around in the crawlspace and attic, I am not a home inspector and don’t want to be held liable for items I “miss”.

    I for one am going to consult my E&O people an have them put pressure on HUD about this. I suggest that everyone does the same. If HUD gets enough feedback from insurance on how ridiculous this is, they will renege…..

    The new guidelines also say that stair handrails are not necessary?????? and as has been, a cracked walkway tripping hazard is ok??????


  10. Steve A Tadevich

    FHA asks for a lot of information and “inspection” type of actions. Although the appraisal requirements are numerous they do not reach the professional inspection level. Most appraisers do not now how to determine if the roof has less than 2 years remaining economic life. (this is easily done just by standing at a certain point on the driveway and knowing what to look for. It takes about 15 seconds!) Because the FHA appraisal requirements are more than the conventional appraisal requirements does not mean they are harder to do, if you know what to look for. You do not need an inspection mentality to do an FHA appraisal. However, there is a lot more time involved, more liability and more work..which translates to charging a higher fee. That is the key. I will not do an FHA appraisal for less than 3 times my normal fee.

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