Your home doesn’t stand by itself – it rests on a special structure called a foundation. The problem is that it’s far too easy to overlook this fundamental element of home construction. But there are some things you should definitely know about a specific type of foundation: crawl space foundations.
If you’re like most people, the crawl space foundation isn’t the first feature that springs to mind as you’re considering your property investment. Most of us are more focused on big-ticket items and value-added amenities. Here’s why you should think harder about what lies below your current home – or future property.
What is a Crawl Space Foundation?
A foundation is a load-bearing structure that supports the weight of a building. The three most common foundation types are slab, crawl space, and basement. The crawl space has an open area beneath the first floor of the house. This space is typically tall enough for a person to crawl through, hence the name.
The Role of Crawl Space Foundations in Home Construction
You’ll commonly find crawl space foundations in houses that use pier-and-beam-style construction. In these homes, builders sink a series of vertical elements (piers) deep into holes in the ground. Then, they mount horizontal elements (beams) so that they lay across the tops of the piers.
Beam-and-pier construction results in a sort of raised, flat platform, which becomes the base for your home’s nice flooring. Although the builders do extend the side walls of the house down to ground level, the area beneath the floor remains empty – and this is the crawl space.
Crawl spaces are the predominant form of foundation in many classic American homes. Builders have used this construction style for centuries – which makes sense considering that modern concrete slab technology only really got rolling in the past 100 years or so.
Why Crawl Space Foundations Remain Popular Today
Many homeowners love crawl space foundation construction, but don’t get things confused. There’s no such thing as a perfect building technique, and the crawl space is no exception.
A poorly maintained crawl space foundation can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. The moist environment and lack of ventilation can create the perfect conditions for these spores to thrive and cause respiratory problems. Another potential concern is that pests, such as rodents and snakes, can access the crawl space and enter the home, carrying diseases and causing material damage.
Fortunately, there’s a clever solution to all these problems: Get your crawl space encapsulated, or sealed against moisture. When combined with proper care, and a good sump pump, encapsulation technology means that the benefits of crawl spaces far outweigh the disadvantages:
Crawl Spaces Support the Structure Above
Although slabs are typically slightly cheaper than crawl spaces, there’s a good reason for the difference. Slabs simply aren’t suited to certain types of terrain – like lots with slopes or expansive soil that swells up when it rains. Crawl space construction not only works in such conditions but also gives you more freedom of choice when it comes to building options.
Crawl Spaces Can Be Built in Flood Zones
If your house is in a flood zone, your crawl space might be its saving grace. By letting floodwater simply pass beneath your home, this empty zone keeps the main structure from getting damaged. While you’ll still need to treat the crawl space properly – by drying it out fully and inspecting for damage thoroughly – these steps are way less expensive than replacing the contents of your home.
Crawl Spaces Provide Extra Storage and Easy Access to Utilities
Crawl spaces can provide extra storage space for things like holiday decorations, out-of-season clothing, or extra bedding. They can also provide easy access to utilities like your water heater, furnace, or electrical panel.
Call a Professional for Crawl Space Concerns
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to keep your home temperature all year long or survive disaster-level weather. Considering a crawl space foundation is a smart choice for any new building project
Maintaining existing crawl spaces is just as important. Keeping your foundation moisture free and well-sealed is about more than just your family’s health – it protects your investment in your home.
It’s not exaggerating to say everything rests on your home’s crawl space foundation. Learn more about keeping your foundation healthy by talking to a Crawlspace Doctor specialist today.