Rhonda, first of all I would say shame on your agent for discouraging you and your husband from attending the inspection. To a man (and woman) professional home inspectors actually prefer to have their clients attend the inspection so that they can explain more in detail their findings and recommendations and answer any questions at the time of the inspection as it saves not only follow up phone calls, but possible confusion about what the client reads in the inspector’s written report.
There has always been a bit of confusion as to what a cripple wall is and over the years I’ve heard many descriptions with many of them being highly inaccurate... Foundation Cripple Wall
– A short wall that rests on the foundation and supports the floor and exterior walls of a structure. Should your home be equipped with such walls it’s a very good idea to have them seismically it braced especially if you live in one of California’s high earthquake zones. During a lateral type seismic event an unbraced cripple wall can have a hinge effect and the back and forth shaking can result of structural collapse.
Bracing a foundation cripple wall is not rocket science, but is basic engineering and we normally recommend any planned structural modifications should be first looked at and approved by a state licensed structural engineer. There is a lot of information on the internet about foundation cripple wall bracing and a good place to start would be to Google “foundation Cripple Wall Bracing” and /or copy and paste this web site in your browser: http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/eqmaps/fixit/ch2/sld017.htm
A braced cripple wall is like your car airbags, hopefully you will never need them, but when you do, well you get the picture.