Crawl Space vs. Basement: The Facts

Comparing a basement with a crawl space can be difficult. After all, while they have some similarities, they also have many substantial differences. Added to that is the uncertainty regarding the actual definition of a basement, and the difficulty in drawing the line between a partial basement and a crawl space.

There are a few ways to tell apart a basement and crawl space. These are the most common differences between the two.


Most commonly, this is the biggest difference between a basement and a crawl space. After all, the purpose of basements traditionally was to have an additional place for storage. A crawl space basically doesn’t have the expansive ability for that storage.

Some people turn their basements into actual bedrooms or living rooms, a concept that increases the livability even further. This just isn’t an option with a crawl space.

Although there are no specific definitions regarding “livability” when it comes to crawl spaces and basements, most people would consider a full-sized room a basement, rather than a crawl space.

Intended Use 

What do you use the space under your home for? If you have a crawl space, the answer is probably that you use it only for repairs and inspections. If you have a basement, the answer is probably that you use it for storage or living.

This reflects the initial intended uses of basements and crawl spaces. Originally, basements were simply an extension of root cellars. Crawl spaces, on the other hand, were an option for homes that just didn’t have the space for a basement.

Regardless of whether your space technically qualifies as a “basement” or a “crawl space,” you should take this concept into account when trying to determine how to handle problems. If you’re using it as a living space, you’re going to need to make it more livable than you would if you’re using it only for repair access.

Finishing and Upkeep 

Even an “unfinished” basement tends to have more finishing than a crawl space. You may even have a dirt floor crawl space, which may not have anything separating the crawl space area from the soil underneath your home.

This concept also shines through in the differences between how you handle upkeep in the area. A basement is often a place that you’ll clean regularly, even if you don’t go down there very often. However, it’s rare to clean your crawl space unless something significant has happened to cause damage.

Professionals will also maintain these areas differently. A JES expert will be able to make a distinction regarding the space under your home, then proceed accordingly depending on whether crawl space or basement upkeep will work best.

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