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Is a Crawl Space Foundation Right for You?

Although it’s not the most popular type of foundation, a crawl space provides a cheaper alternative to a basement.

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Choosing the right foundation to build your home on is one of the most important decisions you’re ever going to make. Here, we will focus on crawl spaces, specifically how they’re built, their pros and cons, and whether they’re the right type of foundation for you.   

insulated crawl space

What Is a Crawl Space?

A crawl space is a below-grade area that acts as a buffer between the damp, wet earth surface and your house. The space between the ground and the crawl space ceiling is usually between one and a half and three feet high, just enough for most people to crawl into. Many of them are typically unfinished with a dirt floor. 

Types of Crawl Spaces

Knowing the minimum code requirements when building a crawl space is crucial to ensure your space complies with codes. 

Vented crawl space: As the name suggests, this type has several air vents at the top of its foundation walls. Builders usually leave a minimum one square foot vent area for every 500 square feet of dirt crawl space area. The vents are positioned across from each other so that air from the outside flows through space. It’s possible to insulate their joists and plumbing. But it’s not easy.

Conditioned crawl space: They feature insulated walls and a watertight barrier that’s connected to the HVAC system. Without a proper moisture barrier, a conditioned crawl space can develop moisture quickly and experience temperature fluctuations. Insulation isn’t required in between their floor joists.

How Is a Crawl Space Built?

The goal of building a crawl space is to elevate the building off the ground by about 18 inches. Building a strong crawl space foundation takes skill. Here are three steps to building a crawl space:

  • Step 1: Trenches are dug below the frost line. 
  • Step 2: Concrete is poured into the trenches.
  • Step 3: Short footings and block walls are laid to support the weight of the house. 

When constructed correctly and with regular maintenance, a crawl space can last many years. 

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Crawl Space?

The cost of constructing a crawl space depends on the size, the complexity of the building’s floor plan, and the average cost of construction and materials in your area. If you’re going to build a crawl space for a simple family home, the crawl space alone will gobble up $8,000 to $21,000 in materials and labor.

Benefits of Having a Crawl Space

A crawl space foundation has several advantages over other types of foundations. For starters, crawl spaces can work well in areas that receive high rainfall, dry climates, and sloping sites. They are also less expensive to build than basements. 

When properly encapsulated and insulated, they provide safe storage space for items like seasonal decorations or even family keepsakes. Finally, crawl spaces offer easy access to your HVAC, piping, and plumbing. This makes future repairs and replacements easier without the need for excavation. 

Crawl Space Disadvantages

The only major drawback is that moisture can cause problems in a crawl space with a dirt floor. Not only does it foster mold growth, but it also instigates wood rot and encourages pests. Failing to fix moisture-related issues can result in severe structural damage. 

Protecting Your Crawl Space

Luckily, crawl space encapsulation provides a way out of your crawl space moisture troubles. A plastic vapor barrier is applied to your walls and floor effectively, cutting off outside air and moisture. This helps to reduce moisture buildup, condensation, and dampness as well as problems such as wood rot and pest infestation.  

When to Use a Crawl Space Foundation

A crawl space is ideal for homes in dry weather.  It is also ideal if you are building in hilly areas where less excavation is needed. The contractor only needs to dig for walls and not the entire slab. Have any concerns about your crawl space? Do not hesitate to contact the professionals at Complete Basement Systems. We take time to thoroughly inspect your crawl space before giving you a free crawl space repair quote.