Everything you need to know about Crawl Spaces
About 15% of homes in the U.S. have a crawl space. This type of foundation is known for the hollow space beneath the house that acts as a buffer between the soil and the structure. While crawl spaces have the combined benefits of the basement and concrete slabs, they are not without imperfections.
What Is a Crawl Space?
Since you cannot stand up straight in a crawl space, it is easy to see how this type of foundation got its name. Crawl spaces can be used to conceal pipes for plumbing, HVAC equipment, and electrical wires. Ultimately, a crawl space foundation must be able to satisfy three specific requirements. It must support the structure above, act as a barrier against soil and water vapor, and keep out any groundwater.
Types of Crawl Spaces
Knowing the minimum code requirements when building a crawl space is crucial to ensure your space complies with codes.
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. These openings allow pests to creep in from the outside of the space, where they will then take residence in your crawl space. In addition to pest infestations, open crawl spaces facilitate mold growth and increased humidity.
A conditioned, or encapsulated crawl space, seals off the space from the outside elements, keeping your crawl space dry. Conditioned crawl spaces are now viewed as the superior option when it comes to crawl space construction as they prevent mold growth, wood rot, pest infestations, and more. Using a combination of a vapor barrier, insulation, drainage, and a crawl space dehumidifier, your crawl space and anything stored inside are protected from harmful damage.
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 and walls are constructed of concrete, either cast-in-place concrete, insulated concrete, or concrete masonry units.
Step 3: Short footings and block walls are laid to support the weight of the house.
Short footings and block walls are made to help support the weight of the home, while pillars of concrete or brick are added for additional support. 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. 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. They are also less expensive to build than basements.
A crawl space foundation is also better at supporting your crawl space during natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, as the space lifts the home off the wet or unstable ground.
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 Cons
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.
Trust Groundworks with Crawl Space Encapsulation
At Groundworks, our team is equipped with both the tools and knowledge needed to effectively seal off and protect your crawl space against damage from the elements. Crawl space encapsulation is not something you should attempt on your own. This is due to the unsafe nature of entering an unprotected crawl space and the amount of equipment needed to encapsulate the space. If you have a home with an open or damaged crawl space, contact us for our innovative crawl space repair solutions. We provide FREE inspections at no obligation to you!