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Converting Crawl Space to Basement: Good or Bad?



V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com


Convert Crawl Space to Basement

Converting crawl spaces into basements is a viable option for increasing your property’s value and creating additional living space.

However, it is not a DIY endeavor and calls for expert assistance.

If you want to convert a crawl space into a basement, obtain a plan from a structural engineer, construct a scaffold, dig the soil, and install new footing and foundation walls. Then build and finish the basement and add a drainage system.

This article will discuss how to convert your crawl space into a basement, the advantages and disadvantages of this, and the expenses involved.

Creating a Basement From a Crawl Space

Creating a Basement From a Crawl Space
Creating a Basement From a Crawl Space

Here’s how to create a basement out of a crawl space.

Step 1: Discuss your Ideas With a Structural Engineer and a Contractor

Get a plan from the structural engineer to convert your crawl space into a basement and review it with a licensed contractor to perform the conversion.

Step 2: Evaluate the Framing and the Foundation

The next step is to examine the framing and the foundation and ensure they are safe and up to the code.

Step 3: Get a Building Permit

Before you begin the project, your local building department should issue the necessary building permits.

Failure to obtain required permits can result in legal complications.

Step 4: Build Scaffolding

When excavating your crawl space, you’ll need to move your house from the existing foundation to a new one.

Use scaffolding to support the existing structure while you build the new foundation.

Step 5: Dig Out the Soil

Dig Out The Soil
Dig Out The Soil

The next crucial step is to excavate the area before you build a basement.

This necessitates the use of huge digging equipment and significant labor hours to remove substantial amounts of dirt from the holes.

The basement height is equivalent to that of the roofs, typically around 7 to 8 feet, making this a highly drawn-out and complex operation.

To achieve optimal structural stability, the contractor must also ensure that the basement has the proper dimensions and preparation.

Step 6: Install New Basement Foundational Walls and Footings

After digging the soil, place molds within the excavated area and pour concrete into it to create foundational walls and footings.

A cure period of 14-28 days is necessary, depending on the type of concrete used.

Step 7: Build a Drainage System

To avoid the risk of flooding and to ensure the durability of the new basement, it is essential to install a drainage system.

French drains and sump pumps are excellent choices to maintain a dry basement.

Step 8: Build and Finish the New Basement

Finally, construct and waterproof the basement.

Once the structure is complete, finish the basement by installing plumbing and lighting.

Cost of Converting a Crawl Space to a Basement

Converting a crawl space into a finished basement$ 50,000 to $ 150,000
Crawl space excavation costs$20,000 to $40,000
Plumbing and drainage installation $4,000 to $10,000
Pouring Foundation $20,000 to $40,000
Finishing $15,000 to $20,000
Cost of Converting a Crawl Space to a Basement

The cost of converting a crawl space into a basement will vary depending on the size of the project, the materials used, and the state of the existing foundation and the structure.

Converting a crawl space to a fully finished basement costs between $ 50,000 to $ 150,000.

Crawl space excavation costs are between $20,000 to $40,000, while plumbing and drainage installation can cost between $4,000 to $10,000.

Pouring the foundation can cost between $20,000 to $40,000.

If you want to finish your basement, the cost will vary depending on the size of the project and the finishing you prefer.

You can expect to pay between $15,000 and $40,000 to finish your basement.

Before starting the project, it’s advisable to get a contractor’s estimate to plan the budget accurately.

Why Should I Make a Basement Out of My Crawl Space?

Converting crawl spaces into basements can increase living space, add value to your home, and simplify access to utilities.

They also offer additional insurance advantages because basements are considered dwelling spaces and are covered for damages.

Additionally, crawl space conversions do not add to the property tax for your home, unlike any above-the-grade home expansion projects you do.

Furthermore, insulated basements keep the room comfortable all year round, requiring less energy to heat and cool the area.

Crawl Space Conversion: Drawbacks

Crawl space conversions are pretty expensive, depending on the scope of your project, and involve significant disruption to your daily life.

The labor-intensive project takes weeks or even months, and you may need to temporarily move during this period, which can be inconvenient and annoying.

Digging out your foundation comes with a significant amount of risk since the building team works on the new foundation and tries to move over your home’s current load to temporary support.

This means you leave your home with an unstable temporary foundation for a while, and any mistake will cause your house to fall apart.

Additionally, initial foundation inspections may not always provide you with the whole picture, and hidden issues can manifest during the excavation process.

Crawl Space vs Basements

ParticularsCrawl SpaceBasements
SealingNot sealedSealed
FlooringNo flooringFlooring present
Home ValueCrawl space encapsulation can enhance the valueEnhance the value
Crawl Space vs Basements

Understanding the type of space located underneath your property can be challenging since many people use the terms “crawl space and basement” interchangeably.

A crawl space is a small space underneath the home’s first floor but above the ground, typically with a clearance of one to three feet.

Its primary purpose is to house plumbing, electrical, and HVAC ducts, making those areas conveniently accessible.

On the other hand, basements are an addition to the house that you and your family can use any way you see fit.

They can serve as living areas, home gyms, and workshops or as entertainment areas with a bar.

Most basements are entirely insulated, and heated spaces are partially underground.

If you’re purchasing a new property, understanding what you are getting could be more challenging without a thorough tour.

Here are the differences between them:


Crawl spaces are uninhabitable areas of the house that need ventilation and insulation to maintain moisture levels.

Their primary function is to provide a way into your home’s ducts, HVAC system, and electrical wiring.

In contrast, the basements belong to the heated, usable section of your home and are less susceptible to pests and termites than crawl spaces.

To maintain a constant temperature for the comfort of individuals, it is important to waterproof the space.


Although unfinished basements share some similarities with crawl spaces, they are not considered crawl spaces since they are significantly larger.

In most crawl spaces, there is hardly enough room to crawl about on your hands and knees because the average crawl space is about 3 feet in height compared to 8 feet in most basements.


Basement Sealing
Basement Sealing

The majority of the basements are completely sealed and are darker and more damper than a typical room.

However, they don’t have leakage, splits, or perforations.

On the other hand, crawl spaces are not shielded from pests, extreme heat, cold, and dampness.


A basement will always have flooring because many use it as an additional living area.

Even though the floor is just a concrete slab, there is something to keep the space from being connected to the ground below it.

As for crawl spaces, that’s not possible.

The only “flooring” crawl spaces receive is dirt.

Home Value

Basements contribute to a home’s increased square footage, which may raise the property’s overall value compared to a crawl space.

But if you consider encapsulating your crawl space, it will undoubtedly increase the value of your property.

They can also provide excellent insulation.


Although crawl spaces and basements take about the same time to create, crawl spaces are less expensive to install than basements.

Depending on the size of your project, a basement will typically cost between $15,000 to $50,000, and a crawl space would cost between $8,000 to $20,000.

What Other Options do I have Besides Excavating my Crawl Space?

Simply because you need more storage space in your home doesn’t mean you should try this approach.

Why would you want to disturb a perfectly solid foundation?

You might give your house foundation issues even if it doesn’t have those issues at the moment.

Crawl Space Encapsulation

Crawl Space Encapsulation
Crawl Space Encapsulation

It’s a great idea to enclose your crawl space to increase the value and condition of your house.

Encapsulating your crawl space is the best way to deal with dampness in the ground and humid air.

It involves adding a moisture barrier to the concrete floor, insulating the walls, sealing the foundation vents, and using crawl space dehumidifiers.

Crawl space encapsulation also allows you to store items safely and works best when you totally enclose the space.

Knowing the difference between crawl space encapsulation and crawl space insulation is important since the latter only helps with cold flooring.

On average, crawl space encapsulation costs around $5,000.

Transforming Backyard into a Room

Transforming Backyard Into a Room
Transforming Backyard Into a Room

If you desire more living spaces, turn your patio or portion of your backyard into a room.

It is relatively simpler than attempting to dig out your crawl space.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Does it Make Sense to Have a Basement as Well as a Crawl Space?

Homes typically have either a basement or a crawl space.

The likelihood of having both is much lower, though some have both.

Is Purchasing a Home with a Crawl Space a Good Idea?

Building a crawl space is more affordable than building a basement.

But they can threaten your home’s safety, comfort, and health when constructed and maintained improperly.

It is in your best interest to make repairs as quickly as possible if you buy a house with a damaged crawl space.

Are Slab Foundations Cheaper than Crawl Spaces?

The construction process involves pouring concrete directly onto the ground, requiring fewer materials and labor.

Therefore, slab foundations are more cost-effective than crawl spaces, costing around $5 to $20 per square foot.

V Susan
Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about woodworking, general DIY and home improvement. If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com