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I am new to gardenweb, and this is my first post (please let me know if this is in the wrong place). Steven Laurin & CompanyI concur with the above recommendation - remove the slab, or relocate the new shed. This foundation design is relatively inexpensive, requires a bit more effort to construct, but is the best method for minimizing risks of future settling or frost heaving. Plywood sheathing was attached to the rafters, and shingles nailed on.  Many thanks to our son-in-law for being the one to crawl around on the roof and nail down the shingles!  The picture was taken before the shingles went on. Our 9 chickens are out in the coop now and they love it!  They have a nice big run to play in all day, and a securely locked up coop for the night. Techniques for controlling the build-up and movement of moisture in the foundation are an essential component of the overall construction. The following construction practices will prevent excess water in the form of liquid water and vapor from creating problems. Manage exterior ground and rain water by using gutters and downspouts and by grading the ground around the perimeter at least six inches of fall over ten feet of run. A vapor retarder such as a 6 mil thick polyethylene sheet should be placed directly below the concrete slab (DOE 2009). A capillary break layer consisting of three to four inches of clean gravel (no fines) should be installed below the vapor retarder.
Add a capillary break (a closed cell foam sill sealer or gasket) between the top of the concrete and the sill plate to prevent moisture migration between the concrete foundation and the wall structure above. There are several different floor finishes that can be employed on a slab-on-grade foundation, however impermeable materials like vinyl flooring should be avoided because they prevent slab moisture from drying to the interior of the home. Once the concrete for the slab has been poured, it will still contain large amounts of moisture and has to be allowed to cure. For more information visit Water Managed Foundations within the Building America Solution Center.
Copyright © 2013 Regents of the University of Minnesota, Center for Sustainable Building Research. This web site was developed jointly by the University of Minnesota and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. CRAWL SPACES - home - CONTENTS: How to inspect, diagnose, repair problems in building crawl areas and other under-floor spaces. This building crawl space article series explains how to inspect, diagnose problems in, and repair building crawl spaces, including crawl space insulation & leaks or moisture control.
The page top sketch of the role of a dirt floor crawl space in building moisture and mold problems (above) is courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
The list of concerns or problems in or due to building crawl spaces is long as would be a list of opinions about what to do with crawl spaces, wet crawl spaces, moldy crawl spaces, or crawl space insulation and ventilation.
Good building science combined with a lot of experience has led to some good information on how to correct crawl space problems.
Crawl spaces may be unsafe to enter due to risk of asbestos, chemicals, collapse, hantavirus, mold, rodents, sewage, snakes or even electrical shock hazards.
See CRAWL SPACE SAFETY ADVICE where we explain when you should not even enter a crawl space.
Crawl spaces are often a reservoir of hidden structural, rot, insect, mold, water, contaminant, or other problems, largely because most crawl areas are difficult to enter and are rarely inspected. WOOD DESTROYING INSECTS carpenter ants, powder post beetles, & other wood destroying organisms are a special risk in crawl areas, especially if fiberglass insulation was run from crawl space floor right up the wall and onto building framing or flooring. Crawl spaces may be cluttered with debris impeding inspection and inviting pests or rodents.
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS - why does condensation appear on a crawl space wall or on the ceiling above it ?
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS - so how dry should a building be for comfort and mold prevention? ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION - how to find and remove animal odors, pet urine odors, etc. WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS series of articles on the causes and cures of high indoor moisture, wet basements, wet crawl spaces, and moisture related problems like attic condensation and mold. WINTERIZE A BUILDING - how to protect a building and its plumbing and mechanical systems from freeze damage, how to shut down a building to minimize damage; how to de-winterize a building. Continue reading at CRAWL SPACE ACCESS or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below. I have been battling crawl-space moisture and ponding water problems for about 2 years now and am desperately requesting your pro-bono assistance and consultations.
After many many hours, weeks, and months of calling people, searching the internet etc., I came across your excellent article and web-site. This house was built in a senior citizen community where the water-table is high and the ground gets soaked around the perimeter of the foundation and other areas of the property during heavy and even not-so-heavy rains.

I had water-proofing companies come and tell me differing things, all wanting thousands of dollars and none guaranteeing anything. So I am asking you for your help in testing for molds and dust particle analysis as well as directing me to the correct professionals in the proper order to resolve all these issues. Thank you for the interesting or I should say challenging water entry question - it helps us realize where we need to work on making our text more clear or more complete. A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem. I have a dirt crawl-space that gets puddles in it and had a termite inspector put a not-so-good sump pump in it that the water never reaches. Puddles in a dirt crawl space below a home, even just wet soils, invite problems with building mold contamination and wood destroying insects such as termites and carpenter ants.
If mold is not visible and there are no health complaints there might not be a big mold problem, or there may be one but as mold does not affect everyone to the same degree, you may not have noticed it.
If your expert finds that there is a significant mold problem originating in the crawl area, also see CRAWLSPACE MOLD ADVICE. Had an excavator look and he told me the dirt needed to be pitched and leveled but he's never done that in a crawl space before.
I agree with your excavator - if the crawl space is not sloped to a common drain point you cannot easily remove water therein.
Beginning with our article titled CRAWL SPACES and also CRAWL SPACE DRYOUT - home you will see an organized approach to curing a wet crawl space.
You think your gutters are "clean" but a mere handful of leaves can clog a downspout and lead to gutter overflow and spillage around the building so you will want to inspect the gutter and downspout system during a heavy rainfall. Some say encapsulation and inside french drains, some say that's not good and outside french drains, some say putting more wall wells and vents in or digging the dirt out more so that water won't come in the vents. Simpler and less expensive are steps to stop water entry from outside, combined with a sloped crawl surface to a common sump pit (see SUMP PUMPS), combined with 6 mil poly over the dirt to stop pumping soil moisture into the area (see CRAWL SPACE VAPOR BARRIER LOCATION).
I consulted with a hydro science company that also said to just clean the gutters (which I already had done and they have that netting over them so they weren't too bad) and clean or get new downspouts.
In other cases we placed the poly outdoors in the sun for a few days to help it complete its outgassing before putting it down in a crawl area.
You could also pour a concrete floor in the crawl area - a more costly solution that has its own concerns with temporary high moisture levels. But I wouldn't be too hasty to assume that plastic odors are the only concern, perhaps not even the main one, in your home.
We would like to know if you have any examples of what we should expect from an inspection of the crawl spaces as we are going to engage a firm to do the inspection for the association. Perhaps because the range of components and building systems that may or may not be present in a crawlspace is so great, I had not though of making a crawlspace-specific inspection list or topic, though indeed inspectors have strong opinions about the inspection of that area of any building. I agree that crawlspace inspection is important: problems tend to develop further and to a more severe extent precisely in building areas that are difficult to access. Second: for entered crawl spaces surely the scope of inspection will cover all structural and mechanical systems and components that are present therein. While many inspectors stop the scope of their service at the level of reporting their direct observations (materials, conditions, defects) in my OPINION a true professional will also be sure that you, the client, are given to understand the significance of these findings and are told clearly where there is evidence of unsafe conditions or the need for repairs.
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. Lighting, proper use of: proper aiming of a good flashlight can disclose hard to see but toxic light or white mold colonies on walls.
Nogging: See this photo of exposed bricks on a building exterior on a building exterior in Canada.
Rubblestone Wall Filler: See this Lartigue House using exterior-exposed rubblestone filler between vertical timbers of a post and beam-framed Canadian building. Mold spores in the Home - a Photo ID Library for detection and identification of mold allergens. The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors.
And all you need to do is to seize the handle of your newly implemented enhance well being. It appears the old concrete slab may been poured on-grade, with disregard for the minimum frost depth for your area.
There are right and wrong ways of constructing a gravel foundation as well; follow the shed company's recommendation. I'll let you know how the new foundation works out (we're leaning toward getting rid of the concrete and putting down compact gravel as a base.
Scope of crawl area inspections, limitations & advice on handling areas that are inaccessible or unsafe to enter for inspection.

Photo at left is of the author, Daniel Friedman, peering into an inaccessible crawl space while suffering from a broken leg. WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS is the home page for our series of articles on the causes and cures of high indoor moisture, wet basements, wet crawl spaces, and moisture related problems like attic condensation and mold.
Crawl spaces are required to be kept clear of debris; some such as wood scraps increase the risk of termite risk. All wood forms used for placing concrete shall be removed before a building is occupied or used for any purpose.
It's best not to have water enter the crawl in the first place since if we let water enter but then pump it out, we are still facing mold and insect troubles stemming from high moisture in the area. Make sure downspouts drain far enough from the building that water does not enter at those locations.
I am extremely allergic to mold and my husband put 6 ply visqueen on dirt floor & 2 vents in block.
More suggestions are at CRAWL SPACE GROUND COVERS where we describe ways to cover up dirt and stop moisture movement into the structure from the crawl space floor. A damp dirt floor crawl space could have led to a mold problem or there could be other health and IAQ issues coming from that location or even elsewhere in the building. If you want to send me examples of what reports & photographs have already been provided for your buildings I can then form a better view of the nature of the construction of the townhomes and thus would have a more specific opinion.
Some conditions such as flooding, unsafe wiring, contamination, or limited safe access space can either limit or even preclude actual entry of a crawl space. In that case the report must indicate the inspection limitations and if the space was not entered, the report needs to explain why.
At InspectApedia you'll find that many of our articles address water and moisture related problems in crawl spaces. And a limited report that lists observations but gives you no idea of their relative import nor of the need for repairs nor of safety hazards is also of limited value. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. We are selling the shed and putting a 8 x 16 tuff shed in its place (with galvanized steel floor joists). All construction materials shall be removed before a building is occupied or used for any purpose.
I became extremely sick from visqueen order and I removed it, still feeling sick but not as bad. I am looking for something to cover & seal the dirt flooring but want something that is chemical free. For example there could be hard-to-see mold contamination on wood surfaces or in fiberglass insulation if it has been exposed to wet or dampness.
I'd be reluctant to ONLY blame the plastic odors (though those have bothered me too at times).
If I were writing such a report, based on what I could determine about the building and its risk points, I'd have additional recommendations for inaccessible areas. The Manufactured Home Owners Association of America is a National Organization dedicated to the protection of the rights of all people living in Manufactured Housing in the United States. I would also like to know if it would be wise to put insulation up underneath the bedroom floor to help prevent from coming up thru the floor into the bedroom? For example where a crawl area is completely inaccessible one needs to decide based on other site and building observations whether or not there are clues suggesting either damage or risk of conditions serious enough to justify destructive or invasive measures to gain view or access to the area. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order.
A In 1993, the Council became part of the School of Architecture, and since then has been known as the School of Architecture-Building Research Council.
Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home.
Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material. The Council's researchers answered many critical questions that would affect the quality of the nation's housing stock. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order.

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