Does My House Have a Crawl Space? (Foundation Handbook)

July 7, 2023

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Are you a homeowner asking, does my house have a crawl space? This is a good question! First, it’s not uncommon to confuse crawl spaces with partial basements and other foundation designs. Second, knowing your home’s foundation construction ensures proper repairs when needed.

When a pier and beam foundation lifts a home off the ground, this creates a crawl space. This space extends over the home’s footprint and is often unfinished, with a dirt floor. Also, you can typically see the foundation materials from outside the space.

This is just a quick explanation of a home’s crawl space. For more details, keep reading! Within just a few minutes, you’ll be a pro at determining your home’s foundation design.

Also, remember to call a foundation repair contractor if you suspect damage. They can perform a full inspection and ensure expert repairs that last!

does my house have a crawl space

Does My House Have a Crawl Space? Finding Your Home’s Crawl Space

Check out some added details about finding a crawl space and determining its condition. Then, you’ll better understand your home’s design and its pros and cons.

Where is the crawl space foundation in a house?

Simply put, a crawl space sits underneath a house. Pier and beam foundations create this space. First, piers sit in the ground, acting like support columns. Second, these piers attach to long beams running along the home’s underside.

The house sits atop these piers, usually at least 18” off the ground or more. That gap created under the home is the crawl space. You can typically crawl under the house using that space to access pipes, wiring, and other features, hence the name! Remember this when asking, does my house have a crawl space?

What does a crawl space look like?

In most cases, a crawl space isn’t very pleasant! One reason is that it often has an exposed dirt floor. Two, pests and rodents sometimes nest in that space. Also, you might notice mold, rotted wood along the home’s underside, and other similar issues.

On the other hand, some homeowners encapsulate the space or add a vapor barrier. Encapsulation involves covering the ground and all other materials and surfaces with thick plastic sheeting. The crawl space then resembles a “capsule.”

Vapor barriers are similar but only cover the ground, not all materials and surfaces. However, these also make the space cleaner and more accessible. Also, pests are less likely to nest on that thick sheeting. Vapor barriers also reduce moisture trapped in the space, for less risk of mold and rot.

Do all houses have a crawl space?

In short, the answer is no, not all homes have a crawl space. Other foundation designs don’t lift the home from the ground this way. Check out some examples of foundations that don’t create a crawl space underneath a home:

  • While basements create a space under a home, they are not exposed to the outside. In turn, basements are not the same as crawl spaces!
  • Storm cellars, accessible from outside the home, are not crawl spaces. These are considered partial basements, since a house with a storm cellar doesn’t have a pier and beam foundation.
  • Slab foundations sit directly on the ground. A builder then attaches the home to that concrete block or slab. Consequently, the slab doesn’t create a gap or crawl space under the home.
  • Builders can create foundations with concrete or masonry blocks. These might form basements or slightly raised foundations. However, if not creating a basement, the builder fills the space between blocks with cement and other materials. In turn, they aren’t technically considered crawl spaces.

In conclusion, if the home doesn’t have a pier and beam foundation, it typically won’t have a crawl space. Even a raised foundation needs to create that gap under the home’s footprint for it to be a crawl space.


does my house have a crawl space

Are Crawl Spaces Worth the Hassle?

Crawl spaces and pier and beam foundations offer some great benefits but have some downsides as well! Consequently, property buyers should consider their needs and budget when deciding if a crawl space foundation is right for them.

First, note that a crawl space means easier access to pipes and wiring under a home, for quick repairs. Second, a homeowner can typically use that space for storage! You can put items in plastic bins or totes and slide them in that gap rather easily.

Additionally, lifting a home off the ground reduces damage risk during flooding or heavy rains. Also, some homeowners like the look of a home that doesn’t sit on-grade, or flat on the ground. Pier and beam foundations can then mean a statelier looking property!

What is the purpose of a crawl space under a house?

Builders might recommend pier and beam or crawl space foundations for areas prone to flooding. Lifting the home off the ground means less risk of water damage, including wood rot, as said. Also, pier and beam foundations offer excellent durability and strength.

In fact, a pier and beam foundation might provide added support versus other designs. Those piers can often withstand shifting soil better than slabs or basements. While not impervious to damage, this makes them a great option for any home.

Lastly, note that crawl spaces make assessing the foundation and other materials under a home much easier overall! Rather than having to drill through concrete or create excavations, a contractor can simply access that space. Homeowners can also visually assess the foundation when needed with a crawl space under the home.

Is it better to have a slab or crawl space foundations?

A slab foundation also has some pros and cons! First, a slab on-grade or running along the ground means no stairs, for easy access. Second, crawl spaces might hold cold, damp air under the home while slabs offer better insulation.

Also, slab foundations don’t have the same pest problems as piers and beams. A crawl space holds extra moisture might risk wood rotting more so than a slab.

A crawl space offer accessibility to pipes and wiring but also keep them exposed! In turn, you might face more repair costs for those materials in a home with a crawl space.

Lastly, as you might expect, flooding risks greater damage with a slab than a crawl space. Slabs allow floodwaters to seep into the home, risking damage to drywall, carpeting, and other materials. On the other hand, a crawl space lets the water wash under the home for less risk of damage. Unlike basement foundations, it’s much easier to clean up a crawl space after flooding.


Can you get rid of a crawl space?

The short is yes, you can dig out a crawl space to create a basement or fill it in to form a slab. However, neither option is very cheap! First, a contractor might need to lift the home for better access. Second, they need to dig out the soil in preparation for fresh concrete.

Pouring the slab or forming the basement comes next. Both need time to cure before the contractor can lower the home back into position. In conclusion, the process is time-consuming and expensive, and not always the best choice.

On the other hand, some homeowners find that blocking off the crawl space offers a sufficient solution! Building walls around the space hides unsightly fixtures and features.

Note, it’s vital that these walls include proper vents and an opening for access. Without ventilation, the crawl space traps moisture and risks costly damage. A contractor can usually advise on whether this is a good choice for your property.


does my house have a crawl space

What’s Up With Wet Crawl Spaces?

It’s not unusual for crawl spaces to hold moisture, either airborne humidity or dampness from the ground. In turn, wood framing and other materials absorb that moisture, creating a damp, musty space. Additionally, all that trapped moisture can risk damage to framing, wiring, plumbing pipes, and other materials.

While wet crawl spaces are not uncommon, a homeowner has several options for tackling dampness! A foundation waterproofing contractor can usually offer many solutions for your home, including:

  • Encapsulation and vapor barriers both repel moisture, keeping the space dry and comfortable. Additionally, both provide protection against a bare dirt floor! In turn, accessing the space becomes easier and more comfortable overall.
  • Crawl space dehumidifiers capture and remove airborne moisture. These then direct that moisture to a nearby sump pump or drain.
  • Sump pumps capture water in a pit installed at the crawl space’s lowest point. Next, these pump that water to a drain or other area.
  • Additionally, you might apply DRYLOK or other waterproofing products to crawl space walls and surfaces.

Above all, remember to ensure proper grading of your property’s soil. French drain systems and other materials can direct moisture away from the crawl space. Consequently, you’ll notice a much drier crawl space overall.

Is Encapsulating Your Crawl Space Worth It?

Most homeowners would probably agree that encapsulation is well worth the cost and effort! Consider some advantages of full crawl space encapsulation:

  • Encapsulation repels moisture, protecting foundation materials against damage.
  • Full encapsulation creates an inhospitable place for pests! In turn, you reduce the risk of infestation and resultant damage by encapsulating a crawl space.
  • Imagine trying to access your crawl space without encapsulation. That plastic sheeting is much more comfortable than the bare, dirty ground.
  • Also, encapsulation adds insulation to the crawl space. Consequently, you might notice fewer cold drafts in interior spaces after encapsulating your home’s crawl space.
  • In some cases, encapsulation can increase property values. Homebuyers might pay more for encapsulated or otherwise protected space. Appraisers base home values on what buyers might pay. Consequently, encapsulation might mean building equity faster overall.

Lastly, remember that you can enjoy many of these benefits with a more affordable vapor barrier. These barriers aren’t as effective as encapsulation. However, they still block some moisture and ensure a clean, dry space under your home.

A Note From Our Team

New Braunfels Foundation Repair Experts is happy to help answer the question, does my house have a crawl space? Hopefully we’ve cleared up this issue for you! Also, if you’re in the area, call our New Braunfels foundation repair contractors when you need expert services. We’ll set up a FREE consultation and quote at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you!


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