Does Your Home Need a Crawl Space?

Does Your Home Need a Crawl Space?

If you own a house that was erected before the 1930s, you are probably familiar with crawl spaces. But did you know that nowadays some homeowners are having them installed in their newer residences or are adding them to the plans of their future home?


Who would have thought that crawl spaces are making a comeback? And for good reason as they offer significant benefits. Here is everything you need to know about this structural building component.

What Is a Crawl Space?

It is an empty built space underneath the building’s ground-level floor, usually between 20 cm and 100 cm in height. It holds the plumbing and duck work and provides ventilation to keep humidity levels low. In the past, houses could not be erected directly on the soil as insulating materials such as concrete, rigid insulation and waterproofing systems were non-existent. Therefore, the only way to protect these buildings from damp and flooding was to raise them off the ground with a crawl space. Which is why the vast majority of very old homes still have them today.

Its Advantages

A crawl space offers several advantages that don’t necessarily come to mind when visiting a residence.

·      First, it allows for easy access to water and power lines—very convenient for repairs.

·      Second, it can reduce the risk of major flooding by permitting water to drain freely.

·      Moreover, building a house on a crawl space protects it from shifting soil levels and so floors are less likely to crack and buckle.

·      A final advantage is the extra space itself: depending on the crawl space’s height, you could eventually convert it into a usable basement and extend your property’s square footage. 

Its Drawbacks

This structural component isn’t all positive, though. It can be disappointingly hard to access, especially when only a few centimetres in height. And unless you dig deeper to build a basement, there is no way to make use of the space for storage. Furthermore, if the crawl space should stop allowing air to circulate properly, humidity issues can arise. Finally, depending on where the house is situated (e.g. near a body of water or on clay soil), the crawl space can be vulnerable to flooding. Which is ironic as the whole point of having one is to mitigate this risk.

Creating a Crawl Space

Building a crawl space is expensive: between $50,000 and $85,000, although in some instances the bill can be as high as six figures. The total price will depend on the home’s condition, the type of soil, the surface area to excavate as well as any surprises that might be uncovered during the work (like for any other renovation project).

Of course, this kind of job can be dangerous for the tradespeople involved as well as for the property’s overall structure. Only employ qualified professionals. Indeed, the quotes you will receive for such a renovation will be based on these two major factors: the site and the house’s characteristics as well as if and how they pose a higher risk. Expect the cost to reflect this. 

If You Decide to Go Ahead, Follow These Steps:

1.    Obtain an excavation permit from your municipality

2.    Have a structural engineer determine if the project is feasible

3.    Demolish one of the foundation walls

4.    Dig to the required depth

5.    Install steel columns for support

6.    Remove the excavated soil 

7.    Build the timber formwork

8.    Pour new concrete foundations

9.    Install waterproofing and drainage

10. Pour a new concrete slab and complete finishing work

A crawl space can be a great addition to your home; however, make sure it has been constructed according to code and that it corresponds to your property’s needs. Don’t hesitate to ask a specialist firm for advice! Good luck with your renovation!

RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

A leader in the real estate industry since 1982, the RE/MAX network brings together the most efficient brokers.