What is the Purpose of a Crawl Space?

In Southern California, many homes are built with a slab-on-grade foundation. But some homes have a crawl space. Why would a home have a crawl space? What is the purpose of a crawl space?

What is the purpose of a crawl space?

There are a couple of reasons a builder might choose to add a crawl space to a home.

  1. Ease of Access: Many times a home is built with a crawl space for ease of installation and access for HVAC, water & sewer piping, and more. This allows for access for repairs later as well.
  2. Leveling the ground prior to building: When building a slab-on-grade foundation the ground has to be level. We have a lot of sloping properties in SoCal and it can get very expensive to level the ground enough to pour a foundation. In many cases, a crawl space is more cost-effective in this scenario.
  3. A slab may not be possible: Some properties just don’t work on a slab. Waterfront or sloping properties might not allow for a slab and a crawl space is the only way to go.

The Downside to Crawl Spaces

There are some downsides to crawl spaces, however.

Because crawl spaces vent to the outside, moisture and humidity can be a huge problem in a crawl space. This can lead to the following problems that you really don’t want to have:

  • Insect infestations
  • Mold
  • Mildew
  • Wood rot of exposed wood beams and joists
  • Foul odors

What can you do about these problems? You can install a crawl space vapor barrier and a dehumidifier to assist with moisture. Crawl space jacks can replace rotten wood supports to prevent sagging floors in the home above.

It’s important when considering purchasing a home to ask the current homeowner about any issues they have had with their crawl space. It may be considered an unimportant space in the home but it truly can affect the whole home. Ask questions and understand what’s going on beneath the home.

Is Slab-On-Grade a Better Option?

Slab-On-Grade is probably the most common foundation in Southern California but it doesn’t mean that it’s always a better choice. There are common problems that occur with this type of foundation as well including upheaval, cracking in the foundation, settlement, or even poor construction from the start due to a lack of preparation.

All foundations come with their pros and cons. It helps to understand the common foundation problems that exist so you can be on the lookout for them. If you look at our website on the right side of each page you’ll notice an additional resources section with a whole list of common foundation problems. Make sure to read through and educate yourself on what to look out for.

If you have any other questions about crawl space foundations, reach out to the team at FOUNDATIONS ON THE LEVEL today.

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