A Bellingham WA home inspector sees an awful lot of issues with wood destroying organisms. In Washington State, those of us who do structural pest inspections must be tested and licensed by the state. We are regulated by the WSDA. One rule that sometimes upsets sellers, or their agents, is the state stipulates that an inspector must call out as inaccessible -- and say that it should be made accessible by whatever means is possible--any area of the crawl space that cannot be accessed with a reasonable amount of effort. General guidelines are a joist should be 18" from grade and a beam at least a foot from grade. Most of us will go to extra effort to get in and check a crawl space, even if those measurements are off the standards by a reasonable amount. However, sometimes it just cannot be done. The photos below will take you under such a crawl space. The captions explain some of the horrors that await, primarily because of the damp conditions and the proximity of the structural lumber to the soil. These are problems nobody wants to have to deal with when buying a new home and a good reason to have an inspection report.
There were about 4" to the structure. No plastic vapor barrier and many pieces of scrap lumber were discarded as well.
The joists had serious damage from both rot and dampwood termites, an insect that will only get into very wet wood.
This was interesting, and a good example of why you do not want to leave scraps in the crawl space. The aggressive white fungus was identified, and confirmed by WSDA, as a form of wood decay or rot fungus.
Thanks for going under with me.
Steven L. Smith