Dear Barry,

We are currently buying a home and just had a home inspection. At the time, the crawlspace below the building was flooded, and the sump pump was not working. Because of this, our inspector could not go under the house. Now that the pump is fixed, we’d like the inspector to go back under, but our agent says this is not necessary. The termite inspector is scheduled to come back and check the substructure, and we’d like our home inspector to do the same. Should we demand further inspection or trust the advice of our agent? – Deborah

Dear Deborah,

An agent who would advise against a full inspection of a subarea is surprisingly ill-informed as to the hard realities of disclosure liability or is simply deficient in the practice of common sense and professional ethics. Some of the most critical defects discovered by home inspectors and pest control operators are located beneath the building. To forego an evaluation of this pivotal area is inexcusably risky and beyond the pale of acceptable real estate practices.

Furthermore, the ground drainage problem beneath this home warrants further evaluation by a geotechnical engineer to determine the cause and the best means of correction. It is also necessary to determine whether moisture-related damage to the structure has occurred, owing to the history of flooding beneath the building.

Subarea conditions routinely evaluated by home inspectors include foundations, framing, site drainage, electrical wiring, gas and water piping, warm air heat ducts, and much more. To exclude such considerations from a home inspection defies practical rationale.

Qualified agents – those who truly represent the interests of their clients – actively promote the inspection processes that lead to full disclosure. Those who would discourage the furtherance and completion of an inspection, especially in the foundation area of a home, subject their clients and themselves to needless financial liability.

Dear Barry,

My home has grooved plywood siding, and I’m interested in changing to a stucco exterior. I’ve been told that this provides fire protection and improved soundproofing, but I’ve got some questions. Does the wood siding need to be removed before installing the stucco, and is paint needed to make the stucco finish waterproof? – Mary

Dear Mary,

Installing stucco on a wood-sided home is an excellent way to upgrade the rigidity of the structure, improve energy efficiency, reduce the transmission of outside noise, and significantly minimize future maintenance. Basically, you will be wrapping your home in a continuous envelope of wire and cement.

Removal of the existing plywood siding is not necessary prior to stuccoing your home. The wire and paper wrap can be installed directly over the siding, as long as the nailing of the mesh coincides with the layout of the wall framing beneath the siding. Painting the stucco is not necessary to provide adequate waterproofing, as the asphalt paper backing provides the necessary moisture barrier. However, elastomeric paint can be applied for added moisture-proofing.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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