Foundation Series: Should I Build on a Crawl Space?

Are you considering building a new home and you are not sure which foundation is best for you? Or, are you buying a home that is already built and you’re wondering which one is better to purchase?

In this series, we will discuss these foundation options:

What is a Crawl Space Foundation?

A crawlspace foundation separates the home from the ground. Footings are poured, then bricks, cinder blocks or concrete pillars are used to make a foundation for the home’s walls. A crawlspace is the area between the ground and the home’s first floor.

Crawl Space Pros

There are multiple benefits of using a crawl space as your foundation:

  • Works well on a sloped lot
  • Preferable in areas prone to earthquakes
  • Better with certain soils
  • Recommended for dryer climates
  • Good for flood-prone areas
  • Plumbing, wiring, and HVAC more accessible
  • Termite inspection is easier
  • Can be used as a storage area
  • More comfortable for walking and standing

Crawl Space Cons

Here are some of the cons of using a crawl space as your foundation:

  • More difficult access for mobility challenged
  • More expensive
  • Construction takes longer
  • Less energy efficient

Geography and Climate Considerations

A crawl space works especially well on a sloped lot where the footers can be designed to level the home’s flooring. This type is also preferable in areas prone to earthquakes since any shifting in the earth can permanently damage a concrete foundation. Soils like red clay almost always require the use of crawl spaces since they are not stable enough to support a cement slab.

Crawl space foundations are recommended for dryer climates since moisture can accumulate there, and they are also recommended in flood-prone areas. A house with a raised crawl space is less likely to flood in areas where rising water is a real possibility.

A concrete slab foundation is better in a wet, but not flood-prone climate where moisture might accumulate within a crawl space. The vapor barrier that lies beneath the slab will prevent mold growth from entering the home.

Height

A home built on a slab is closer to the natural grade of the home’s lot, preventing the need for steps into the house. This is especially advantageous for residents who are elderly or who have mobility issues. Since a crawl space can be anywhere from 16 inches to four feet high, a crawl space-built home needs to have entrance ramps to provide the same ease of mobility.

Installation

Whether using a concrete slab or a crawl space, only a professional should prep the site and install the foundation. The integrity of the entire home depends upon this.

A concrete slab home begins with the proper preparation of the site. This starts with accurate grading to not only level it but to provide drainage away from where the house will rest. Soil and gravel underneath the slab are important to be mixed and poured correctly. An improperly prepared lot can result in a shifting of the earth under the slab resulting in cracks, raised areas, or low spots in the concrete. Also, a plastic layer between the slab and ground will act as a vapor barrier to deter moisture from affecting the concrete foundation in the future.

A crawl space foundation also requires professional grading and lot preparation. The concrete footers that will support the home’s foundational need to be level and secure. In addition, the home’s gutter system and landscaping need to direct the flow of rainwater away from the crawl space, preventing moisture problems underneath the house. Even with this preparation, a heavy storm can result in water running into the crawl space. Therefore, a good grading job to prevent water accumulation is essential as is a vapor barrier and proper crawl space ventilation. Accumulated moisture below the wood floor joists can allow condensation to seep upward into the home’s flooring. It can also allow fungus and mold growth.

The home’s plumbing, wiring, and HVAC ductwork and systems will likely occupy the crawl space, allowing easy access for maintenance and repairs.

Durability

Both a concrete slab and crawl space foundation will be durable if constructed professionally from quality materials on a properly prepared lot. Expect a concrete foundation to last about 50 years or more barring any shifts in the earth beneath the concrete or tree root intrusion. A crawl space has about the same life expectancy, barring any violent flooding or insect infestation.

While a leaky pipe or shower pan may be easier to repair with a crawl space, hidden water leaks can also rot the surrounding wood. This can cause repairs to be more extensive. The same leak will not affect the integrity of a cement slab, but the repair may require removal and replacement of some of the foundation’s concrete. This is usually a more expensive repair when comparing the same-sized area of damage.

Tree roots can damage a slab if large trees are left too close to the foundation of the house, but on the whole, it has a much stronger foundation than a crawl space. This is especially important if you plan to have heavy pieces of furniture in your home.

Pests

However, some advantages of a crawl space are that the separation from the earth beneath the home discourages termite infestation, and a thorough termite inspection is possible. The earth beneath the “floor” of the crawl space is also pre-treated for termites before construction begins.

Give Georgia Home Remodeling a call at 678-635-5429 to discuss your home remodeling project today! We specialize in remodeling homes in Georgia. Contact us to schedule your consultation and estimate. Or, you can call us at 678-635-5429 or email.

About Georgia Home Remodeling
Georgia Home Remodeling is a Gwinnett-based remodeling and renovation contractor company that has been serving Metro Atlanta and North Georgia since 1991. Originally created by company founder and president Chris Allen as a small painting company, GHR has since grown into a full-service custom remodeling and home renovation provider.

Georgia Home Remodeling is dedicated to providing great service and quality work at a fair price. From the initial contact until the job’s completion, we will be prompt, courteous and communicative, and will always do exactly what we promise to do at the price we quoted.

We are fully licensed and insured home renovation contractor, and our diverse and experienced crews include carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, flooring specialist, and HVAC professionals. Company president Chris Allen, who oversees and manages each GHR job, is also a Certified Graduate Builder, Certified Lead Carpenter and Certified Remodeler.

Contact us via email or call today 678-635-5429 to request a quote and let us help you make your dreams for your home a reality