Basement vs. Crawlspace: What is the Difference?


A crawlspace and a basement are two of the three most common foundations when building a house. Both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. One is not exactly better than the other. However, depending on the location of your home, one of these choices is more suitable. If you are going to build a man cave, basements are more feasible to use.

A basement is a type of house foundation that is buried at about 8 feet beneath the ground. While a crawlspace, on the other hand, is a foundation that usually elevates the house two to three feet above the ground. The little amount of space a crawlspace provides is not ideal for an actual living space, unlike a basement. There are several differences between the two in terms of budget, advantages, and disadvantages.

The advantages and disadvantages of a basement and crawlspace will depend on the geographical location of a house. As the name implies, crawlspace can only be entered by crawling. People usually go inside the crawl space to fix the house’s ventilation systems and electrical wiring. While basements also have the space for all the ducts and wires, it also has an extra subfloor for the home which can be finished off to turn into a suitable living space.

If you live in damp locations, a crawlspace can be more suitable than a basement in areas near a coastline. The soil is much moist in those areas; the soil’s moisture can find its way into the basement wall and breach through any cracks. This instance will cause a lot of problems in a basement such as flooding. However, basements can provide better protection in areas that are prone to storms and floods. Make sure you do routine maintenance to avoid any floods in a basement.

BASEMENT

If the soil and climate conditions are right, a basement is always recommended. It can provide much more space if you finish the basement as a living space. You can use that living space for all your basement fishing needs. A basement may cost much more than a crawlspace, but the value it can add to your house and needs is worth every penny.

A basement can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $30,000. The higher cost concerns the additional work of digging up a deeper hole than a crawl space plus the amount of concrete that is poured at the very bottom. A typical basement will have an entrance from inside the house. However, you can build additional access from the outside as well. Basements are usually used in cold regions in the United States for protection.

For man cave purposes, the basement is the best choice given that the geographical location is suitable. It has much more space than any room in the house because usually, basements are the same size as the first floor of the house. It means you can get a new level which is the perfect space for your den. Make sure you finish off the basement right the first time to save money in the future.

PROS

  • Offers higher investment return

Once you have the money to finish off a basement, you can legally classify the basement as another floor if you have the right permits and licenses. The fact that you have another level for storage is a good investment even without finishing.

  • Easy-Access for any repairs

Any repairs with the pipes, HVAC system and electricity are a lot easier when you can access it from inside the house instead of crawling underneath a crawl space.

  • Protection

A basement can protect from extreme weather and storms. Underground vaults are usually located in parts of the United States that are prone to cold weather and thunderstorms for the reasons that basements can provide heat and protection.

CONS

  • Costs more money than a crawlspace

A basement is considerably more expensive than a concrete slab or a crawlspace. It will require a lot more if you decide to finish the area. However, you can maximize the use of space by using it as an extra living space in the house.

  • Dark

A basement, being underground, will lack natural lighting. There are some ways you can get the light to pass through with the use of light tubes or windows. Basements are usually not entirely underground, so you can still put a window that partially peaks out.

  • Risks of flooding

A basement is prone to flooding, especially in areas that are prone to heavy rainfall and storms. You can prevent floods by installing a proper drainage system.

FLOODING

The common cause of basement floods is heavy rain. The rain over saturates the soil and will later seep into your basement walls. The water can travel through the cracks and leak out into the room. Before installing the French drain system, make sure you get all the cracks on your wall sealed and fixed.

Clogged gutters in your household can be another cause of water pressure. The expanding soil will create lateral pressure against the wall foundations. The tension will later seep into the walls of your home and cause water leakage. To prevent any floods, you must maintain the cleanliness of the gutters by cleaning them regularly. A clogged drain will force water to seep into the walls of the foundations.

A drainage system can prevent your basement from flooding. Your man cave will contain a lot of your expensive equipment such as your entertainment system, gaming systems, and a lot of your precious belongings. You do not want all the equipment to get damaged or break. You might have insurance for your home, and you can get reimbursed for the damage. Although preventing any floods, the first time will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

To learn how to finish a basement with a French Drain System, click here.

CRAWLSPACE

A crawlspace is usually used for building houses in coastal areas. The sandy soil in these areas may not be suitable for creating basement spaces. If you want a man cave in these areas, you better chose an area above the ground like a garage, an outdoor tool shed, or an extra room in the house.

The crawlspace is an ideal area to place the internal organs of the household, such as the tubes, pipes, air ducts, and electrical wires. You can access the internals of the house by crawling underneath the space, which can be a lot messier than doing it in a basement.

The cost of a crawlspace is much cheaper compared to a basement but for the more obvious reasons. However, a crawlspace is much more suitable for earthquake-prone areas. Having structures deep underground like a basement can be damaged by a strong earthquake. It can affect the overall stature of the house and lead to many more hazards.

PROS

  • Warm house floors

If the crawlspace is conditioned, it can provide more heated floors. The proper ventilation of a crawlspace will protect the structural integrity of your home.

  • A lot cheaper than basement foundations

The average crawlspace will only cost about $8,000 to $20,000. Since you can’t finish a crawlspace, you will not spend more than that in the process of building the house. But you will still spend money on maintenance.

 CONS

  • Not suitable for a living space

Having no space to stand up, it is clear that you cannot use it as a man cave or any other purpose. The only useful purpose of a crawlspace is the essential function of keeping your house from falling apart.

  • Limited protection from storms

Unlike a basement, you cannot use the crawlspace to provide shelter from extreme weather conditions. Since there is no basement, your home can be flood-free from the bottom.

  • Prone to moisture

A crawlspace can be likely to the growth of mold and fungi. It is best to regularly check for any signs of mold and mildew, which can affect the structural integrity of your house, or worse, it can affect your health.

  • Prone to rodent infestation

The crawlspace has enough space for rodents to take shelter. Make sure you maintain a clean area so that creatures will not take any interest in the area.

RELATED TOPICS

FINISHING OFF A BASEMENT

If you have a suitable basement, you can now complete it, so you have a place to set up your man cave. Polishing off the basement will require extensive planning. It is better to plan the whole remodeling process rather than building with no direction.

  • CONSTRUCTION PLANNING

Before deciding on finishing your man cave, there are a couple of factors to consider. Consider the safety of you and the members of the household. You also need to find out what the building restriction codes in your local county, your ability to do the work, and more importantly, your budget.

  • PREPARATION

Before remodeling your basement. You have to do the essential qualifications. Make sure you clean out your basement from all the junk, trash, and boxes. You will also need to do a visual inspection for moisture, molds, and leaks. By doing this, you can save yourself a lot of time in the future. There is no need to worry about repairs in the future if you handle it beforehand.

Check for visible cracks and wall discoloration. It can be a sign of moisture that can lead to your basement flooding. You don’t want the expensive appliances getting soaked.

  • SAFETY

Finishing your basement will require you to use power tools such as electric saws. You must have all the safety gear as well as enough knowledge to operate those kinds of devices. If you have kids, keep them away from the construction site mainly from the power tools.

For electrical and plumbing, I suggest that you hire a professional. It can be hazardous to work with electric wires, especially if you do not have any prior experience. Hiring someone else to do a job you don’t know how to do does not make you less of a person or man.

  • BUDGET

Your ideas will revolve on your budget. If you have a bigger budget, hire a professional so the job can get done quick and easy. Some people enjoy doing DIY work. If you are that kind of person, do it yourself. Doing it yourself will save you a lot of money. It will also give you a sense of fulfillment and joy that money can’t buy once the project is finished.

CONSIDER THIS:

Dealing with the items on this list will require qualifications and experience. Make sure you have those requirements so you can execute your plan safely.

  • Electricity

Consider not affecting any electrical wires when finishing the walls and ceiling, if you have steady power going to your basement, leave it as it is. If you want to add more wall plugs for the activities that require skill, hire a professional. It can be dangerous to work with live electricity. I suggest you hire a licensed electrician to do this part.

  • Water

Does your basement have a sink or bathroom? If no, and you want to install a small bathroom. You can hire a plumber to assist you with the plumbing. However, you can still do this yourself as long as you have the knowledge and the required permits. With a place to shower in your man cave, you don’t have to share it with anyone. You can take a shower in peace with no lines.

  • Ventilation

If you are going to spend time in your basement, you need to make sure the air is breathable. You will need proper ventilation. You can install a window by placing it in a spot where you can open and close it. Make sure you do the appropriate sealing so water will not come inside the room. Proper ventilation will protect your basement from any mold build-up caused by moisture.

  • Drainage

If you have not installed a drainage system yet, this is your chance to do so. You will never know when your basement is going to flood. Water insulation materials can decrease moisture for short rainy days but will not prevent your basement from flooding with heavy rainfall. Storms can sometimes last for hours and even days. Make sure you install the right drainage system to avoid any floods.

ADDING A BASEMENT

If you have a crawlspace in the house instead of a basement, you can still add a basement under your lawn if your budget and weather conditions permit you to do so. It will probably cost you a lot of money, including the finishing, but there are many more benefits in a man cave that money cannot buy. The benefits to your overall wellness are priceless.

CONCRETE SLAB FOUNDATION

A concrete slab foundation is one of the other types of the most common house foundations. This option is the most inexpensive option to start the construction of a house. It is also the option that does not need a lot of maintenance. For a slab foundation, repairs will cost more money because of the limited drainpipe and electrical wire access.  Slab foundations provide limited protection against different weather conditions.

BASEMENT vs. CELLAR

Although a basement and a cellar can have a lot of similarities, there are a lot of differences and definitions that separate them from one another. In the dictionary, the basement is the foundation of a house, while cellar means storage. In building terms, the geographical location of the room defines the cellar and basement apart. Whichever of these you have, with the right knowledge and resources, it is still possible to enjoy the space.

A basement is an ideal space for a man cave, but that does not mean you cannot take advantage of your cellar. You can also use it as a mancave with the proper finishing. Cellars are typically much smaller for a man cave, but the size can still be used for simple man cave setups. You can use the cellar for a simple office set up. My rule for man caves is, any enclosed space can be a man cave as long as a reclining chair can fit.

Basements, once finished, can be classified as a ground floor that will add value to the house. But I cannot say the same thing for cellars. Because cellars are located deeper underground, it will be harder to pass inspection for legal room classification.

CONCLUSION

It is clear that a crawlspace is not suitable for a man cave. But some factors are not man cave related that makes a crawlspace a better option for the house foundations. In terms of basement fishing, there is no better place to do that than a basement. If you are looking to move into a house, you have to check out the conditions of the whole house. Include the crawlspace or basement a part of the inspection. It can affect your living conditions in the long term, so you should check beforehand.

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