Depending on where you grew up, you may be more familiar with basements than crawlspaces. Nowadays, however, it’s much more common to find newer homes in the southeast built with crawlspaces rather than basements. 


You may be wondering what the difference is and which one is better.


To address the second question, we need to answer the first one. 




The most obvious difference between a crawlspace and a basement is the size. 


Basements are spaces under the home that have a minimum of 7 feet between floor and ceiling, with many being even more spacious. Due to this ceiling height, it’s common for finished or partially finished basements to be used as additional living and storage space.


On the other hand – or knee – crawlspaces generally have very low clearances between the ground and the “ceiling,’ sometimes as little as 3 feet. This low overhead area is what gives the crawlspace its name – there’s only enough space to crawl. 




If you compare homes with crawlspaces and basements, you’ll also notice that basements have some type of flooring, whether that’s tile, vinyl, carpet, or even just concrete. Crawlspaces, as a rule, do not have any type of flooring, meaning the “floor” is dirt.


Ventilation – Or Not


Additionally, basements are sealed, air-tight spaces, which allow them to be heated and cooled. Because they are sealed and can be temperature controlled, basements help regulate temperatures in the rest of the home, as well. These features also make basements good places for storing items like furniture, clothing, art, and other things that need a climate-controlled environment.


Because crawlspaces are built over exposed soil that naturally releases moisture, these areas need ventilation to allow that moisture to evaporate. This ventilation to outside air means crawlspaces cannot be temperature controlled and, therefore, can affect the temperature of the home above. The lack of flooring in crawlspaces also means the potential for pest, such as spiders, termites, and other insects, to enter the space and, eventually, the home’s living areas. Many homeowners have their crawlspaces encapsulated to avoid these potential concerns.


So, Which is Better?


The answer is – it depends. 


Whether the home builder constructs the home with a crawlspace or basement is often determined by several factors, including the slope of the lot and cost considerations. In general, basements tend to add to the cost of building a home. However, if the lot has a steeply sloping elevation, a basement or combination of basement and crawlspace might be less expensive than trying to level the area.


The decision to build with a crawlspace or basement can also be influenced by the needs and desires of the potential homeowners. Will they want the possibility of finishing a basement for additional living and storage space? Is the cost savings of a crawlspace more appealing?


Whichever type of space is under your home, the most important thing to keep in mind is that they both need to be protected from moisture. Basements can develop problems with leaks and cracks in the foundational walls. Crawlspaces have the potential for those issues and more.


The best way to protect the area under your home is to seek professional advice.


At Columbia CrawlSpace, we are experts in what’s under your home. Contact us for a free inspection and we’ll assess your crawlspace or basement for moisture, leaks, and the condition of your foundation. We can also provide an estimate for protecting your home with improvements such as waterproofing and crawlspace encapsulation.


Protect your home – and your family – with the help of Columbia CrawlSpace.