Skip to Content

Crawl Spaces vs. Basements (The Pros and Cons of Each)

Crawl Spaces vs. Basements (The Pros and Cons of Each)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Whether you have a basement or a crawl space, they both act as the home’s foundation. Which is easier to construct, is a topic of much debate.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between a crawl space and a basement. Additionally, we’ll compare the advantages and drawbacks of both in more detail.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Crawl Space?

A crawl space is an incomplete, constrained space located between the first and second floors of a building. It’s largely in charge of maintaining and regulating the amount of moisture present.

Additionally, these spaces serve as a cover for a building’s essential services. Some of these services include pipelines, electricity lines, and HVAC.

To access the space easily, a crawl space height of 44 to 48 inches is typically advisable.

It’s also ideal for access openings to be at least 18 inches by 24 inches in size. This allows you to use it for maintenance, repairs, and installations.

These underground rooms require non-mechanical approaches for air circulation. Construction rules require crawl space vents in the space to enable outside air to flow around.

Another alternative is utilizing an exhaust fan to circulate air from the crawl space to the outdoors.

In doing so, it lessens the possibility of mold and mildew growth by preventing the accumulation of extra moisture.

If mold develops, it might endanger the home’s structural stability and also the residents’ safety.

What Is a Basement?

Basements are underground spaces with concrete foundations and significant headroom. Most basements are underneath the first floor.

However, some basements are only partially covered, leaving the other portion of the basement visible.

These types of basements usually have easy access to natural light, which could be a huge benefit for most.

A basement typically ranges in size from 500 to 1500 square feet, with eight-foot ceilings. Because of this space, basements serve a variety of functions.

For instance, many people use it to store items, notably beverages. Since the underground is chilly, dim, and humid, it typically keeps beverages fresh.

Many homeowners also use the basement as an extra room, converting it into a second bedroom, a cinema room, or even a gaming area.

Differences Between Crawl Spaces and Basements

Many people confuse the terms crawl space and basements with each other. Are they the same thing, though? There are a few key distinctions between crawl spaces and basements.

It’s useful to know the differences between the two, so you can decide which one you need based on your needs. Let’s examine some of the variations.

1 – Dimensions

The height is the main distinction between crawl spaces and basements. While most crawl spaces are about 3 feet tall, the typical basement is roughly 8 feet tall.

Thus, basements are significantly larger than crawl spaces. Because of the size difference, you can move around while standing.

With a crawl space, though, you are unable to walk upright and must instead move around on your hands and knees.

2 – Cost

The price to build these venues is another major difference. Crawl spaces typically cost less than basements.

Basement foundations often require more supplies, tools, manpower, and time to construct because of their size.

For basement construction, you can anticipate spending between $2,800 and $34,500 on average.

This is because you’ll also need to include heating systems, electricity, and waterproofing safeguards.

Additionally, you may spend even more depending on what you’ll build. For instance, if you’re setting up a home gym, you’ll need to install some weight-lifting machines.

Also, you’ll need other big equipment in addition to rubber flooring, which costs a lot.

Crawl spaces don’t cost as much, though. Depending on the space, it can run anywhere from $5,500 to $10,000 on average.

This is because you can’t develop a living space there because of their small size, which considerably reduces the prices.

3 – Purpose

As previously stated, a basement can be an additional room for a variety of purposes. It can hold a wide range of objects, including furniture, storage containers, and even used equipment.

The basement also gives access to heating, plumbing, and electrical systems.

Although crawl spaces also give access to these systems, they aren’t intended for storing items or to be an extra room.

Crawl spaces are also useful for regions that frequently flood since they raise the building above the ground and serve as a platform.

Hence, the basement is your best option if you need a space that may serve as additional storage or another room.

Crawl spaces, on the other hand, will work for you if you don’t care about space and just need to conceal your ductwork.

Pros and Cons of Crawl Spaces

Crawl spaces contain a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages. Here are some that you should keep in mind:

Pros

There are three advantages of having a crawl space. These benefits include:

1 – Durable Base

Due to their endurance, crawl space foundations have a significant advantage of functioning under a wide range of conditions. Its architecture is what gives the crawl space its strength.

The way it works is that the constructors dig trenches below the frost line and then pour concrete. After that, they erect block walls and short footings to sustain the load of the structure.

Because of this foundation, it keeps your house upright and can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

2 – Flooding Prevention

A crawl space raises your house off the ground. The elevation helps keep flood water from entering your property.

Typically, people install sump pumps and drain in crawl spaces to help eliminate excess water before it can cause any puddles or floods.

The waterproofing and sufficient ventilation provided by this crawl space encapsulation guarantee that the water may easily drain.

3 – Reduction of Heating Costs

Although sealing your crawl area may be expensive, there are numerous advantages. It may lessen structural damage, stop the accumulation of moisture, and retain heat.

It might be challenging to keep your house warm throughout the winter. If your home is improperly insulated, the heat might quickly escape, leaving you feeling cold.

As a result, your heating system will operate for a long time, raising your electricity costs.

However, the insulation will help you lose less heat if you seal your crawl space. You can consume less energy, spend less money, and keep warm for longer in this manner.

Cons

While having a crawl space is great, regrettably there are some negatives. Here are three of the main drawbacks to having a crawl space:

1 – Pests

Crawl spaces draw pests since they’re humid and dark. Even if you take precautions, they won’t be much stopped by fine-mesh screens that are above the crawl area vents.

This dark area offers cover and a location for pest reproduction. Additionally, the decaying, moist wood is the perfect source of food for these bugs. Hence, they choose to remain there.

The ease of entry to your crawl space is another factor that draws bugs there. Pests can enter the crawl space through vents and other openings, such as wall fractures.

So, you must take some steps to prevent pests if you want a crawl space.

2 – Moisture

Because they’re underground, crawl spaces are more likely to be moist. The moisture can harm the building’s structure if they remain wet for a long time.

Moisture may encourage concrete fractures to enlarge, shifting your foundation as a result. Furthermore, it can cause rot and decay, which deteriorates the structural components.

As a result, maintaining the crawl area may require routine dehumidifier service. Make sure to get dehumidifiers made specifically for crawl areas rather than standard household models.

Simply plug the device in an outlet and keep it running for a few hours to completely dry up your crawl area.

3 – Hard to Access

Unfortunately, a crawl space is less accessible than a basement because it isn’t as large. Typically, an access hatch is used to enter the space.

These doors are usually located outside your home on the ground level or inside a pantry or closet.

You can then crawl inside the crawl space by ducking once you’ve located this access point. Sadly, this could be difficult, especially for those who are claustrophobic.

Therefore, performing any necessary maintenance there could be unpleasant.

Pros and Cons of Basements

Before you settle on building a basement, it helps to weigh its pros and cons. Here is a list of factors to think about when considering having a basement.

Pros

Here are some factors that may make you love the idea of having a basement.

1 – Extra Storage Space

Having more storage space is one of the main advantages of having a basement. You can keep a wide range of things in storage, including furniture, outdoor gear, holiday decorations, and more.

By doing this, you’ll avoid cluttering your home and save money by not needing to rent a storage unit.

Additionally, you can put in shelving systems to keep the things you’re storing in the basement off the ground.

This can be especially useful if you want to store items, like hand tools, close at hand.

2 – Emergency Shelter

Having a basement can be very advantageous because it can offer shelter in the event of an emergency.

In the case of bad weather, your home’s basement can provide you with a secure location to seek shelter.

This can be during the threat of a hurricane, tornado, thunderstorm, or other natural disasters.

Your safety is extremely high because windows are typically not present in basements. During storms, windows are frequently vulnerable due to wind speed and flying debris.

Therefore, avoiding windows and staying in the basement will keep you secure.

3 – Easy Access

With a basement, maintenance becomes much easier. When you have a basement, you can stand up straight and feel comfortable fixing faulty pipes and other services.

The basement door is also neither concealed nor on a low ground level.

Typically, a set of stairs inside the home leads to the basement. So there’s no need to crawl or take any other hard steps; simply open the door and enter normally.

Cons

Unfortunately, having a basement may come with some drawbacks. Here are some of the disadvantages of adding a basement to your house:

1 – Higher Cost to Build

Owning a house with a basement will be very expensive, especially if you plan to remodel it.

Also, if you’re building the house from scratch, it often costs more to build than it does to build on a concrete slab. This is due to the procedure requiring extensive manpower and equipment.

Additionally, it’ll be expensive if you decide to do any remodeling. For instance, the most expensive component of a finished basement is frequently the flooring.

For a finished basement, flooring typically costs around $1,500 and $4,500.

2 – High Risk of Flooding

Flooding is a major problem in basements, especially during a rainstorm. Living somewhere where there is a lot of rain and flooding could pose a risk to your property.

Basements don’t serve as a foundation to lift and raise the home above ground level, unlike the crawl space.

They’re the house’s lowest level, where water can quickly seep in through cracks or damaged plumbing.

Your basement’s excessive moisture risk can harm your home’s walls, flooring, carpets, furniture, and more. So, be sure to adopt the appropriate draining safety measures.

3 – High Sound Levels

Contrary to popular assumption, basements don’t block out sound. Many believe that it’s because it’s underground. However, it’s not true.

The basement provides good sound dynamics because it’s located below the house.

Normally, the basement magnifies and echoes every sound. The harsh, stark surfaces and high ceilings are the reason for this.

The majority of the walls are also vacant. Therefore, they lack soundproofing.

So, if you want to practice with your band in the basement, you might want to soundproof the space beforehand.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the difference between a crawl space and a basement, you can now have a better idea of which type suits you the most.

While they both serve a somewhat similar purpose, one can be better than the other.

Whether you’ll construct a crawl space or a basement, your house will greatly benefit from it.

--

If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel