Crawl Space To Basement Conversion – Process, Cost & Safety

Is it possible to turn a crawl space into a basement? Here is a guide on the process and cost involved.

Answers to certain questions like this seem rather too obvious. An obvious answer, because the need for space in the house, cannot be over-emphasized as a result of an increase in population.

Often, homeowners opt to convert certain spaces in the house rather than building an additional one.

So can you turn a crawl space into a full basement?

Crawl Space To Basement Conversion Process And Cost

In the case of converting a crawl space into a basement, not all buildings will allow for such, due to the initial site plan or blueprints of the building.

Most of the time, some extra diggings might be required, which poses a relatively complex and enormous amount of expertise and care with the initial site plan and proper drainage systems.

The essence of these conversions, basically, might have to do with you taking the cost-benefit analysis and implications into due consideration.

This should give you an idea of the financial-cost projections you are willing to incur.

How To Convert a Crawl Space into a Basement

For this discussion, we’ll be looking at crawl spaces below the homes. This is because basements are mostly located below the ground surface.

So the question arises; can you turn your crawl space into a basement?

Let’s find out.

Though crawl spaces require considerable site planning and proper drainage system management, however, it can be converted fully into a basement.

In most cases, the contractor has good knowledge and/or experience, has to completely replace the existing foundation with a new built-up.

You will have to support the existing structure in its entirety carefully while the new foundation work is being done. This is because digging out a new basement, right under an existing or already raised structural building, tends to pose a very serious risk and safety challenge.

You will have to put into consideration the soil type, which is first and foremost of great concern. Some stable and hard soil such as clay soil can be almost vertically cut with minimal chance of failure.

Unlike some soft soils and sandy soils which will require many shallow slopes in trying to drain off the foundation water.

Amongst other challenges posed by existing foundations, is climate change.

Due to the type of climate experienced during conversion, the new walls ought to be waterproofed, and a drain pipe installed in the case of interior leaks.

What does it really take to convert a crawl space into a Basement?

The discussion above has been primarily aimed at answering the question initially asked. Converting a crawl space into a basement might seem like an easy task to do, but, is it something you can really do?

Yes, it is very much possible to convert a crawl space into a basement, it only requires the takings of professional knowledge, a tremendous amount of labor, and technical know-how.

Why would you require professional help you may ask?

Well, because in digging down, installing concrete walls and foundation around the basement, temporarily supporting and extending the foundations of the house, professional/experienced help is needed to avoid collapse and unrepairable damage.

Crawl Space To Basement Conversion Process

Carrying out this project involves a wide range of procedures.

Because your input isn’t necessary, all project details and responsibilities including minute ones are borne by the contractor.

This notwithstanding, it’s important to have an idea of what it takes to get the job done.

Work begins by marking out dimensions followed by providing support to piers resting on the soil. Next, the digging process begins, followed by pouring into a concrete retaining wall.

Drainage system installation is followed by pouring a concrete slab to serve as a floor.

To get access to the ground level, a stair will have to be provided. Adequate lighting provisions are made followed by your desired finishing. Now your new basement created from a crawl space is ready for use.

Let’s discuss each of these points for more comprehension.

  • Mark out the New Basement Boundaries:

Stakes and strings or spray paints can be used for marking out boundaries. However, your decision on how big you want your basement to be is first to be considered.

The markings are something you can do yourself, it helps you decide on the desired size. Once you have your markings, your job is done, you leave the rest to the professionals/experts.

Generally, irrespective of size, the cost implications are relatively the same. It is however advisable to mark the basement big enough because you might not get a second chance for expansion once the initial conversion is completed.

  • Shore-up any Foundation piers that are in the Basement

We oftentimes refer to Crawl spaces as pier-and-beam construction. As you dig away soil from the foundation, piers become loose and unsupported.

Your house ought to have several concrete piers that hold them strong together off the ground, these piers rest on the soil. As the ground goes deeper, temporary support to the foundation is most required.

Clearly, professional expertise is needed in carrying out this particular task, someone who’s passed experiences are certainly unquestionable.

  • Dig out the soil from the Basement

Looking to save money? Here is where you put yourself to work, provided you are physically capable and have spare time. This is one of the reasons why the project might seem expensive.

Since an excavating machine cannot fit into your basement, it has to be dug using a shovel and just the bare hands.

Digging out soil obviously constitutes the biggest part of the cost budgeted for conversion, depending on the depth, this is because one has to move hundreds of cubic feet of soil by hand out of the crawl space to be converted.

  • Pour in a new Concrete Retaining Wall Around Basement Edge

To start with, digging out your crawl space entails a concrete wall around its edges to keep it in good shape. Pouring a new concrete helps in retaining the soil around in order not to collapse and basically supports the house as well.

This clearly requires expertise in pouring and finishing the walls appropriately to avoid complexities and collapse of the building.

  • Installation of a drainage system

You need a proper drainage system to avoid a pool of water retaining underground in your basement, mold, and a bad smell oozing out.

However, installing a well-designed drainage system also requires the services of an expert.

  • Pour a Concrete slab on the Basement floor

This is rather paramount to ensure a smooth and attractive finish, as it is oftentimes difficult to obtain.

Professionals make this task look rather easy, but it is however advised you seek professional help to avoid unprofessional mistakes.

  • Lights and Stairs

Lights are very important as basements mostly are dark and therefore causes difficulty in trying to watch your steps. Stairs are important as you will need those to get down to your basement and back up to your house.

Stairs require basically carpentry skills and expertise. You might be able to as well handle the lights but only if you are handy, otherwise you seek electrical expertise as well to avoid electrical faults.

  • Finishing

With everything put in place, what remains is the finishing. People have varying preferences when it comes to finishing. It largely depends on what the basement will be used for.

When storage is the primary objective, there won’t be a need for painting or other forms of finishing. It all depends on your needs.

Turning a Crawl Space into a Basement IS NOT a DIY Project

If you’ve played with the idea of turning your crawl space into a basement, this is achievable. However, it cannot be done through the adoption of DIY techniques.

In other words, it’s not a project you should consider do yourself as the risks involved are significant.

Speaking of risks, you’ll need to consider the fact that load-bearing provisions or concrete work need to be made available or put in place.

There are also other details like HVAC and electrical installations to figure out. This is a risky project that could result in thousands of dollars in damage when not properly handled.

A great deal of technicality and expertise is needed for such projects. As such, it should be left to skilled and experienced contractors to handle.

With their expertise and engineering knowledge, they’re able to create or turn your crawl space into a stable basement.


Turning your crawl space into a basement is a possibility and largely depends on your needs. As stated earlier, such remodeling isn’t a DIY procedure.

It’s best left to the pros.

However, being of limited height, the crawl space needs to be dug further down below the ground to allow for, or create adequate space or room.

Digging out a crawl space deeper to make more room requires a great deal of work. You’ll have to consider the fact that the top is covered by the floor.

As such, dirt or earth removal during the digging process will be more challenging and needs to be performed systematically.

We have seen that it is possible to convert your crawl space into a basement, even though it has its cost implications, time, and professional needs.

It does not in its entirety require skilled or professional help as there are a few tasks which you can carry out yourself though it requires a lot of time and energy, provided you are handy.

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