Is A Crawl Space Considered A Basement?

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Home construction involving the underground areas may sometimes surprise you with a hidden space below your house. If it's not a room you're familiar with, it might be a crawl space. Although, you might still be wondering, is a crawl space also considered a basement? We've looked up this concern and summed up what we found in this post.

Despite both being located under your home, a crawl space is not the same as a basement. They each function for a different purpose and utilize varying amounts of space to operate. However, crawl spaces work as a smaller substitute for a basement for areas where basements aren't available.

The similarities and differences between a crawl space and a basement help you determine which suits your needs better. Keep reading as we delve into how to tell them apart, their benefits and drawbacks, and what you should do when turning a crawl space into a basement.

Cinder Block wall in Basement with spray foam insulation, Is A Crawl Space Considered A Basement?

Crawl Space Vs. Basement Foundation

The line between a crawl space and a basement isn't the clearest, especially when you're dealing with an unfinished basement.

Even with similarities, crawl spaces and basements are not the same. They primarily differ based on the amount of space they take up and their use.

Some may mistake an unfinished basement for a crawl space because of similar features, such as having a dirt floor. It is the essence of identifying the space's function.

A crawl space with air mover to dry out the structure.

Despite their differences, a crawl space works as a good alternative for basements depending on the lot owner's needs.

If you're working with a cellar, read this post for an in-depth discussion on how it differs from a basement: Basement Vs. Cellar—What Are The Differences In The US?

What Is A Crawl Space For?

Inspector checking the crawl space of a homes foundation.

Generally, a crawl space is a hollow area between the home's floor and its foundation. And so, keeping the house elevated just a few feet from the ground.

As the name implies, they are high enough for a person to crawl when they enter, ranging between 1 to 6 feet tall.

Crawl spaces conveniently create an exclusive space to run the utilities around the house. If it has enough room, it also works as storage.

The Benefits

Most recommend getting a crawl space rather than a concrete slab foundation because it offers unrestricted access to the home's systems in a single area, making it easier to locate and address issues.

They are cheap to build at approximately $8,000 to $25,000. It only requires insulation and ventilation, making overall maintenance costs less when compared to a basement.

Crawl spaces are suitable for locations prone to high moisture levels. However, keep in mind that you should still control humidity accordingly.

The ventilation requirement is also beneficial in providing adequate airflow. In most cases, they contribute to warming the home due to insulation.

The Drawbacks

Basement or crawl space with upper floor insulation and wooden support beams

It's essential to have a properly built crawl space to ensure protection. Damages are costly to repair in a crawl space than they would be for a basement.

Although it can be extra storage, it holds only items that won't be harmed by moisture. If you store food, clothing, or furniture there, they may rot or break after a short period. In the same context, the conditions in a crawl space are unfit to use as a play or living area.

Crawl spaces heavily rely on proper ventilation and insulation. Without them, a home will have trouble staying warm, and the air circulating may contain harmful bacteria.

Compared to a basement, crawl spaces are more likely to encounter pest infestations if not correctly sealed.

What Is A Basement For?

Interior of modern renovated lover floor basement common room in private city residence.

Basements are a common foundation choice for homeowners that need extra room around the house. It can function as extra room or storage for excess items, perishables, and other activities.

These are deeper than crawl spaces, usually 8 to 10 feet tall, making them a handy livable space once finished. Basements can also survive without ventilation, as long as there is proper insulation.

The Benefits

The primary purpose of having a basement is to have more room. Most use it to store essential items and food or large appliances and equipment.

Basements are livable spaces, so you can turn them into a room for recreation, workspace, or additional bed and bathroom. It can be especially beneficial for growing families.

An unfinished basement allows further customization, such as adding square footage. But once you finish the basement, it adds to your home's overall value.

The Drawbacks

When opting for a basement, keep in mind that it can be expensive to build and maintain. You might have to purchase additional appliances and systems to control the temperature and moisture as necessary.

Radon may become a problem, but you can prevent the issue through radon-resistant techniques and adding radon mitigation systems.

Humidity levels are a common concern due to the underground location. Without the appropriate and regular maintenance, it leads to the growth of harmful organisms.

Should I Change My Crawl Space Into A Basement?

A basement under construction

When deciding whether to change your crawl space into a basement, the main factors you should consider are the cost, structure, and location.

Switching to a full basement starts at $50,000 and can go higher for bigger spaces. If you already have a crawl space, it won't be costly to maintain unless you need to make major repairs.

When making structural considerations, identify the need for extra space and whether the home can handle it without causing damage.

Location is also vital since it determines the condition of the space. If your area is prone to high moisture levels, stick to a crawl space. If there's a risk of frequent extreme storms, consider switching to a basement for added protection.

Follow the step-by-step guide on how to convert a crawl space into a basement in this post: Can You Convert A Crawl Space Into A Basement?

How Much Does It Cost To Turn A Crawl Space Into A Basement?

a basement under construction, view from the outside

Building a basement can be rather costly, although cheaper when you already have a current crawl space. It starts at approximately $30 per square foot and can go as high as $75 per square foot. The average goes for about $50 per square foot.

The expenses are usually categorized according to the different types of work involved. These include digging out the crawl space, excavation costs, installing utilities, pouring a foundation, and finishing the basement.

Here's a simple rundown of how much you may be spending:

  • Digging out the crawl space - $10,000 to $30,000
  • Excavation - $75 to $150 per cubic yard
  • Installing utilities - $3,000 to $10,000
  • Pouring a foundation - $10,000 to $30,000
  • Finishing the basement - $15 to $20 per square foot

In total, you could spend anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the amount of work you need to get done.

Can I Store Stuff In My Crawl Space?

basement crawl space sans insulation

Yes, crawl spaces can be used as storage but note that you can only store selected items.

As much as possible, avoid keeping perishables and cloth in a crawl space for the long term. Unlike storing them in a basement, they are likely to rot in a few weeks or months.

You can store appliances, furniture, and other items here as long they are not heavily affected by dirt or moisture. However, keep in mind potential pest infestations.

The Verdict

There's a significant difference between a crawl space and a basement when identifying their purpose and the benefits they offer.

You can choose either depending on your needs but, it helps to consider other factors when deciding which one to have, from advantages and disadvantages to which suits best in your location and within your budget.

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