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Basement Design and Crawl Space Design History

The History of Basements…

History of Basements and whats a crawl spaceCrawl spaces, cellars and sub-cellars are all types of basement foundations. The history of basements span back centuries, granted they’re more common in areas where it’s easier to excavate the soil. First off, you are most likely to find basements in regions that aren’t prone to earthquakes or flooding. Also, in areas that have a higher rate of tornado activity.

Once industrialization took hold in the US, it became more common to build a basement or partial basement in new buildings. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that basements started to gain popularity in the states. At this point, people began using the basement as a living space instead of storage.

Basement Design vs. Crawl Space Design

Basement Design

In fact, basements originate from root cellars, which were used to store food before refrigerators were invented. This is due to the cooler environment of a basement, opposed to a living area.

Modern basements come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From root cellars to look out basements or daylight basements; all serve as additional storage space. Using your cooled basement for food storage can be great, but the cooling can also create basement waterproofing and moisture problems. With that said, it’s important to have a waterproofing system in place if you plan to use your basement as storage space.

Both basement and crawl space walls are a part of your home’s foundation. Depending upon the type of foundation, the walls will rest on a footing or be connected to a footing.

Furthermore, the footing is designed to distribute the weight of your home across the soil and minimize settling and sinking. However, if the footing was not designed for your soil type, then your home could experience settlement problems. As a result, this could also lead to waterproofing problems, especially if the problem isn’t addressed appropriately.

Crawl Space

Unlike basements, crawl spaces are typically low and cannot be used as living space. In the past, it was common practice to build vented crawl spaces. It was believed that venting the crawl space would keep it dry. Nevertheless, we now know this isn’t the case. To clarify, studies have shown that sealing your crawl space is the best way to keep it healthy and dry.

According to The Science and Sense of Crawl Space Encapsulation by Jesse Waltz, PE:

“Properly sealing the crawlspace and removing the moisture from the ground and air is part of the solution that helps provide a mold-free and insect-free environment, which leads to a more energy-efficient and healthier home.


 To avoid moisture’s negative affects, a crawlspace should be completely sealed and isolated from the ground and the humid outside air. An effective method to lower crawl space humidity, tested and perfected throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Ireland, is a proper crawlspace vapor barrier system. This involves installing a 20-mil 7-ply sandwich of high and low-density polyethylene with polyester-cord reinforcement on the dirt floor that is extended, and fastened to the walls.


 In some cases, a high performance dehumidifier air filtration unit is added in the crawlspace to assure that humidity levels stay under 50%.”

Are You Looking For Local Crawl Space Contractors In Virginia, DC, Maryland, or Northeastern North Carolina?

At JES Foundation Repair, our team of in-house crawl space experts have warrantied solutions for crawl spaces and foundations of all types.

If you would like a free quote, we’re ready to help you! Call or e-mail us today to schedule an on-site consultation and written quote!

We’re proud to serve all of Hampton Roads, from Virginia Beach throughout Williamsburg and surrounding areas; Northern Virginia, DC, and Southern Maryland. View a complete list of our service area here.

The Experts at JES can Help!request my free inspection

If you’re not sure of the source of your crawl space problem, give us a call at 866-370-4816, and schedule a free inspection. We’ll find out the cause of the problem and help you find the perfect solution.

We now have a crawl space to be proud of and feel very secure that we will not have any future problems. Pauline and I will not hesitate in recommending your company to anybody. We thank you for your services.

~ Burt and Pauline S., Williamsburg, VA

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Purpose of a crawl space and basement design

Our Homeowner’s Guide to Crawl Space Repair is your resource for learning about why you have crawl space problems, and what to look for to see if you have a problem.

Request your free crawl space repair inspection and download your own copy of the e-book immediately, as our thanks for putting your trust in JES.

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