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Can a Crawl Space Be Converted into a Basement? Evaluating Your Options

Crawl Space Repair

05/07/2024

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Converting a crawl space to a basement is possible. However, this endeavor requires considerable time, money, and energy. If you are willing to make those commitments, transforming your crawl space into a full basement is possible.

Steps Involved in Converting a Crawl Space into a Basement

  1. Evaluate the crawl space: The first step in this massive process is to evaluate your existing crawl space. Your foundation specialist should consider whether it is possible to convert your crawl space to a basement, and they should search for any crawl space issues. Ideally, your foundation specialist should address any existing crawl space issues before or during the conversion to a full basement.
  2. Support your home: Your home depends on its foundation for support. As such, some stability will be required while converting the crawl space. The most widespread way to achieve this is by attaching scaffolding or piers to your home. These structures support your home the way your foundation normally would. They also allow for conversion while the house remains stable above.
  3. Excavate the crawl space area: This process stage is known as digging out a crawl space. To achieve this, your foundation team will go below the home and remove materials from your existing crawl space. Since a full foundation is more significant than a crawl space, creating a deeper area where the basement foundation will reside is necessary.
  4. Install the full foundation: After your team digs out the crawl space, the next step is to install a full foundation. Since a full basement is about the size of any other floor in your home, it is necessary to create foundation walls that are at least six to eight feet tall.
  5. Attach the home to the new foundation: When the new foundation is in place, the final stage is to place the home on the new foundation. At this point, the foundation team will remove the scaffolding, and the entire basement will support the weight of the house.

Convert a Crawl Space to a Basement

Why Crawl Space to Basement Conversion is Not an Option for Many

  • Time spent: Many homeowners don’t have time for a complete conversion. This process takes several days or weeks. During that time, the homeowner must remain out of their house. Vacating the house requires the homeowner to find a new form of housing, which can be difficult for many.
  • Price: Converting a crawl space to a basement requires a significant investment. Many people don’t have the money necessary to facilitate this conversion. While this price can vary, it remains high. On average, converting a crawl space to a full basement costs $50,000 to $150,000.
  • Danger: Converting a crawl space to a basement is dangerous to those who perform it. Therefore, this most certainly isn’t a DIY project. You’ll need to hire a professional.
  • Potential problems: Issues may arise during or after converting from a crawl space to a full basement. These problems can sometimes result in significant foundation and crawl space repair.

Alternatives to Converting a Crawl Space to a Basement

  1. Adding new living space elsewhere: One leading reason people transform a crawl space into a basement is to add living space. Rather than undergoing this extensive process, it may be better to add living space elsewhere. You can increase a home’s living space by creating an above-ground addition rather than converting a crawl space.
  2. Crawl space encapsulation: If you have issues with your current crawl space, encapsulation may be a better alternative than a transformation. Encapsulation services will eliminate current water issues, repair structural damage, improve drainage, and prevent future water-related problems. These services include the installation of a vapor barrier, which creates a complete seal between the crawl space and the outside. It also provides dehumidification that allows you to set the ideal relative humidity for your crawl space. Lastly, encapsulation proves to be much more affordable than complete conversion.
  3. Basement foundation vs crawl space repair: It is always less expensive to perform repairs rather than a complete transformation. Any time you want to create a conversion, consider repairs instead.

If you have issues with your current crawl space, encapsulation may be a better alternative than a transformation. Encapsulation services will eliminate current water issues, repair structural damage, improve drainage, and prevent future water-related problems.

Signs You Need Foundation or Crawl Space Repair

Several signs reveal that your crawl space or foundation requires repairs. Opting for these repairs is almost always less expensive than a complete conversion. Here are some signs your foundation might need fixing:

  1. Bowing foundation walls: A bowing wall reveals a force behind it. Often, this force is hydrostatic pressure, which can wreak havoc on your foundation area.
  2. Cracked foundation walls: Large foundation wall cracks are concerning. They can indicate differential settlement, hydrostatic pressure, or another issue.
  3. Standing water: The presence of standing water is a sure sign your foundation needs improvement. This often results from a faulty drainage system, but it can indicate other problems.
  4. Excessive moisture: Even if your crawl space does not have standing water, excessive moisture is a problem. Any time the relative humidity rises, crawl space repairs are likely necessary.
  5. Growth of mold and mildew: These substances indicate foundation moisture issues. They are also a health hazard to those in your home.
  6. Drywall cracks: Foundation problems can cause drywall cracks. These cracks can appear anywhere in your house.
  7. Sloping floors: Differential foundation settlement often results in sloping floors. Any time you see this issue, have your foundation inspected.

Use a Foundation Pro You Can Trust

The best way to evaluate your foundation and see if conversion is an option is to hire a foundation professional. That professional can diagnose any issue, match you to the right solution, and see what’s possible for your foundation area.

If you live in the Triad, Triangle, or Eastern North Carolina and want to have your foundation evaluated, contact Regional Foundation & Crawl Space Repair. We can quickly assess your foundation and reveal the right services for you.