Should You Buy a Home With a Crawl Space?

6 Min Read
Published Oct. 10, 2023
Man shines flashlight in crawl space.
Written By
Reviewed By

A crawl space is an unfinished area of a home that sits between the first floor and the ground. It’s only a few feet high. While a crawl space isn’t an area you’ll regularly occupy, it can offer access to utility systems and protection from earthquakes and floods.

However, a crawl space also comes with drawbacks — especially if you don’t maintain it. Here’s a look at some factors you should consider before you buy a home with a crawl space.

Does a Crawl Space Add Value to Your Home?

A well-maintained crawl space with modern features can add value to your home

For example, a popular upgrade is encapsulating the crawl space. Encapsulation involves lining the crawl space with a vapor barrier to prevent moisture issues, which has several benefits.

For one, encapsulation helps prevent mold and wood rot, which keeps the home in good condition and improves the air quality in the home. Encapsulating the area also improves ventilation and insulation, which equals savings on your energy bill. These benefits can improve the homeowner’s quality of life and increase the home’s value.

What Are Common Problems in Crawl Spaces?

The environment of a crawl space sometimes invites different problems. Here are some issues you’ll need to look out for:

Common Problems That Occur in Crawl Spaces

Mold or mildew When moisture gets into a crawl space from the soil or minor flooding, it can cause a host of issues — including mold or mildew. Mold isn’t just smelly; it can also cause health issues, and has been linked to lung and liver cancer.
Termite infestationIf termites invade your crawl space, they can eat away at the wood in your home. This may lead to major structural damage that can be expensive to fix.
Rodents or pestsPests and rodents can get into a crawl space if it isn’t sealed properly. This can lead to property damage as well as health and safety risks.
Plumbing leaksLeaky plumbing can cause moisture and water to accumulate in the crawl space, which may lead to mold and rot.
Structural damageMoisture or poor soil compaction in the crawl space can lead to structural damage and uneven floors.
Bad air qualityHumid air from crawl space moisture can be circulated throughout your home via the vents. As a result, you — and your family — would be breathing in low-quality air.
InsulationWhen insulation is exposed to moisture, it can deteriorate over time. Your crawl space may be insulated with vapor barriers, a foam board, spray foam, or fiberglass batts.

How To Prevent Problems in a Crawl Space

There’s a good chance you’ll need to hire a professional to remedy problems in a crawl space if they occur. However, there are things you can do to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.

Installing the following can help you waterproof the crawl space and prevent moisture-related problems in your home:

  • Vapor barrier.
  • Sump pump.
  • Drain.
  • Matting.
  • Dehumidifier. 
  • Fan.

How Do You Maintain a Crawl Space?

Properly maintaining your crawl space can help you avoid issues down the line. Be sure to inspect your crawl space every so often to detect problems. You can also enhance a crawl space with upgrades, such as installing a hygrometer to monitor moisture levels, or encapsulating the space. 

What Are Common Upgrades for a Crawl Space?

Enhancing your crawl space can help keep it in good shape so issues don’t develop. Here are some ways you can upgrade your crawl space:

Common Crawl Space Upgrades

Enhancing vapor barriersThese help keep moisture out and reduce the risk of structural damage and mold.
Installing insulationHelps prevent heat from escaping the home when it’s cold out.
Encapsulating the spaceSeals the crawl space with a heavy moisture barrier that helps control humidity.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Home With a Crawl Space

Here’s a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of buying a home that has a crawl space:

Pros and Cons of Buying a Home With a Crawl Space

Helps save on energy costs if properly maintained.Can develop moisture problems that lead to structural damage.
Serves as a buffer for floods and earthquakes.Can be invaded by pests.
Gives you access plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical systems.Can’t be used for many purposes. 
Can lead to warmer floors and less dust.Mold and mildew can grow and cause a variety of problems.
Offers storage space.Doesn’t add to your total square footage.
Good for homes on sloped lots.

Is a Home With a Crawl Space Right for You?

A crawl space can be beneficial if you live in a wet climate or an area prone to flooding or earthquakes. However, it’s important to make sure that the space is up to date and sealed off from the ground.

“The decision to invest in a house with a crawl space depends on individual preferences and priorities,” says Ben Gold, a real estate investor and founder of Recommended Home Buyers in Philadelphia. “While crawl spaces offer benefits like accessibility, they may present challenges for those seeking extensive storage or residing in humid environments.”

Gold shares a story of a homebuyer who wanted to a purchase a house with a crawl space.

“In one instance, a client was enchanted by a house with a crawl space,” Gold says. “However, our thorough inspection revealed significant moisture-related problems that could have escalated over time. This experience underscores the importance of in-depth evaluation before making a decision.”


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about crawl spaces.


Ready for more learning?

Here’s some other helpful articles

Related Articles

**itsHome, a LMB Mortgage Services, Inc. company, is not acting as a lender or broker. The information provided by you to itsHome is not an application for a mortgage loan, nor is it used to pre-qualify you with any lender. If you are contacted by a lender or broker advertising within our network, your quoted rate may be higher depending on your property location, credit score, loan-to-value ratio, debt-to-income ratio, and/or other factors. itsHome does not offer its matching services in all states. This loan may not be available for all credit types, and not all service providers in the itsHome network offer this or other products with interest-only options. The information that we provide is from companies which itsHome and its partners may receive compensation. This compensation may influence the selection, appearance, and order of appearance on this site. The information provided by itsHome does not include all financial services companies or all of their available product and service offerings. We use cookies to track data and provide you with the best possible experience. By proceeding you consent to the use of these cookies. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.

itsHome, a LMB Mortgage Services, Inc. company NMLS #167283,