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Pros & Cons of a Basement Versus a Crawl Space

Building a home or searching for your next home to purchase? It’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of a basement and a crawl space so you can make the right choice for you and your family.

Unlike other rooms of a home, it’s not recommended or common to remodel a crawl space to a basement or vice versa. Is it possible to change the crawl space to a basement? Yes. Costly? Also yes and very much so. Because of this, it’s a decision that is best made during the very beginning of the building stages.

In a nutshell, a crawl space costs far less to build and less to maintain than a basement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it's the best choice for your home.

Here are the pros and cons of a basement versus a crawl space:

What is a basement?

A basement's main purpose is to store items that aren’t used regularly. But the beauty of basements is that they can be so much more than simply a space for storage. They can be utilized as living spaces that have bedrooms, a bathroom, or even entertainment spaces to house a bar, workshop, craft room, movie room or home gym. They are an extension of the house that can be utilized however suits you and your family.

Advantages of a Basement

#1 Provides Additional Living Space

A basement serves as an extension of your home and can be used as extra living space.

#2 A Basement Does Not Have to Be Finished at the Time of Construction

Basements can be costly but you can make a basement more affordable by leaving it unfinished. This is often the case when the homeowner doesn’t know what they want to do with the space yet or if they plan on selling the home and want the new owner to decide how to use the space. It’s also a good idea to leave a basement unfinished for budget purposes. You can always finish the basement in the future.

#3 Can Offer a Room for Overnight Guests

If you choose to add a bedroom to your basement, it can be the perfect place to house an overnight guest.

#4 Serves as a Storm Shelter

Basements can be a place to seek shelter and refuge when severe storms hit. Depending on if your basement is finished or unfinished, it may make a comfortable area for the entire family (and even friends) to lounge or even sleep to wait out the storm.

#5 Increases the Home’s Value

Basements help increase the square footage of a house which may enhance the overall value of the property.

Disadvantages of a Basement

#1 More expensive than a crawl space

Basements are by far the biggest investment compared to a crawl space, cellar or concrete slab. The extra labor for grading and digging a basement plus the addition of a good drainage system can add to the overall cost. And of course, a finished basement will cost more compared to an unfinished basement.

#2 Prone to Moisture and Mold

Crawl spaces and basements have one major disadvantage in common: They are both prone to moisture build-up and mold growth. This means a basement needs to be checked and monitored for any moisture, condensation or standing water that could lead to mold.

#3 Have the Ability to Flood

Basements may flood under severe circumstances, such as heavy rains, a hurricane or even a backed-up municipal sewer system. This is because a basement can be entirely or partially underground.

#4 Can be Hard to Access for Senior Members of the Family

Stairs are required to access basements from inside the home and because of this, they can be hard to access by senior family members. This is also something to consider if you are purchasing or building a home that you envision yourself living in for years to come.

What is a crawl space?

A crawlspace is a space below the house that sits up to 3 feet above the ground. Its primary purpose is to house and provide easy access to plumbing, electrical wires and HVAC ducts. It also provides insulation to the floor of the house. This is a space that is usually only visited when repairs to plumbing, electrical or HVAC units are needed. To learn more about why houses have crawl spaces, click here.

Advantages of a Crawl Space

#1 Budget Friendly

Crawl spaces are less expensive than basements largely due to how they are built. A basement requires at least 8 feet of excavation while a crawl space is usually between 3-to-4 feet deep. And of course, more labor to excavate a deeper foundation means higher costs.

#2 Protects Against Pests

Crawl spaces offer elevation to a home (compared to a slab foundation). This means it may help keep pests, like termites, away.

#3 Makes Repairs Easy

A crawl space can house and provide easy access to plumbing, electrical wires, ductwork and HVAC units which are handy when a repair is needed. Even better, it makes installing additional piping a simple task.

#4 Easier to Protect Against Moisture & Critters Than a Basement

Although moisture or standing water can be a problem, it is fixable. And we can help! We recommend encapsulating your crawl space to keep it dry and moisture-free.

#5 Provides a Better Foundation in Areas Prone to Earthquakes or Flooding

Crawl spaces are compact which means they can hold the entire house together much better than a basement in the event of an earthquake or flood.

#6 Encapsulated Crawl Spaces Provide Excellent Insulation

Because a crawl space serves as a barrier between the ground and bottom floor of a home, it provides a layer of protection in addition to insulation for the floor.

Disadvantages of a Crawl Space

#1 Equipment May Work Less Efficiently

Basements provide better protection for equipment compared to a crawl space.

#2 Vulnerable to Moisture Build-Up and Mold

Moisture can quickly become a problem in crawl spaces that are not properly encapsulated. If moisture builds up or water is left standing, it could cause mold to grow which can lead to severe issues. But fortunately, the solution is simply to encapsulate the crawl space to drastically reduce the chances of moisture and mold building up in the space.

#3 Doesn’t Offer Protection During a Storm

Basements are often a go-to when severe weather hits but you won’t want to retreat to a crawl space in these cases. Even more, it’s important to check a crawl space after a severe storm that may have let water inside the space. Crawl spaces are not as easy to access as basements.

#4 Heating a Home Can be Expensive

A crawl space doesn’t offer the level of insulation as a basement and as a result, heating a home during the winter can be costly. But the plus side is that you aren’t having to heat an additional space, like a basement, since a crawl space is not heated or cooled.

#4 Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Most homeowners have never visited their crawlspace to know what lies beneath their homes. It’s often “out of sight, out of mind” but this means most homeowners don’t realize there is moisture build-up or mold growth that could lead to severe problems. On the contrary, basements are often checked much more frequently. If you don’t plan on checking your crawl space, call us to come out and evaluate your space to ensure it is in good condition.

#6 May Allow Easy-Access for Pests

Crawl spaces can provide a place for pests or vermin to dwell if it is not completely sealed.

While there are disadvantages to crawl spaces, we have good news!

Most of the disadvantages to crawl space can be solved by encapsulating your crawl space. Click here to learn more about encapsulation and why it’s important. Give us a call at (270) 804-6909 or send us a message here to get a complimentary quote on your crawl space project. We offer free consultations and guarantee honest advice to help you determine if a vapor barrier or encapsulation is the right fit for you and your home.


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