Building Homes or Extensions/pier and beam old house


I am wanting to buy an old pier and beam house built in 1950 in Odessa Tx.  My concern is when we opened the crawl space to go down, there was maybe 12-13" from the floor to the ground.  I don't see how anyone could have ever gotten down there, EVER!  Is this normal?  When we opened it up it didn't smell moldy or mildewy, but the ground was wet.  If there's a problem, I don't know how we will fix anything if we can't climb under there.  Any suggestions?  Thanks, ahead for having this site.  I do have someone coming Tues., but my option period will run out by Friday.

Hi Connie, 18-24" of crawl space is normal, 24" or better is code in most areas that have building departments and inspectors.  In post and beam construction it's often common to measure from the bottom of the floor to the ground instead of from the bottom of the beam since the beams are far enough apart to allow someone to crawl between them.  It is possible that over the years dust and dirt have accumulated and its just a matter of digging some of the extra dirt out.  It's not that hard, you start at the door or floor opening  and start  working your way in.  Once you have cleared a spot big enough to get all the way under the floor system, you can shine a light around and get a better picture of how much room you need to get around under there and assess any moisture problems that may exist.  I like to have a heavy black plastic 8-10 mil vapor barrier on top of my crawl space ground.  The black keeps plants from growing by blocking any ambient light coming in..but clear plastic will work as far as moisture barriers go...once you have made the underside navigable as needed, you can drag the plastic underneath and spread it out.  It's a nasty, uncomfortable project, but its not so difficult that a couple of energetic people can't knock  it out in a couple of make the barrier complete, purchase seam tape and tape your plastic seams after overlapping the Plastic edges 6" or so. I hope this information helps, feel free to write again regarding this or other maters, sincerely Bruce Johnson

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Bruce E. Johnson


I can answer any construction related question in regards to carpentry, concrete, drywall, masonry, structural elements of any type of building, residential or commercial. Interior or exterior.


Custom Commercial and residential buildings. Churches, theaters, schools and auditoriums. Most recently I am working with the Catholic Church on several design build committees. I have a website related to scheduling and project supervision. Although my expertise is more related to multimillion dollar commercial, educational and theatrical projects my generous credentials in residential and remodelling construction make me a viable source of information regarding all forms of building questions.

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