No matter how big your home may be, there will always be room to say things like, “I wish we had more space,” or “Where am I going to put this?”
There comes a time when you’ve run out of practically every idea you could use to make more space in your home. All the places you could use have already been occupied. There is, however, one place you may still be able make use of – your crawlspace.
While the crawl space is not considered as a multifunctional (what with all the potential mold, insects, rodents and moisture), it can definitely be used as one, once you have done some careful planning and preparation. Here’s your five-step guide to turning that dingy, dark, dirt-filled, small area into a thriving space that can help you turn your plans into a reality.
STEP 1: ASSESS THE SPACE
This is of course the most important part of the process. In order to understand what kind of modification your crawl space needs, you must first make a thorough assessment to determine what condition it is currently in. Take a look at whether your crawl space has a moisture problem, and see if there is any signs of mold on any part of the area. Presence of mold means that your crawl space may be a harbinger of insects and rodents – or may be on its way to attract them one day. You will want to treat an infestation issue before moving forward. Remember that there are professionals available, like those at Carolina Crawlspace Pros, that have a keen eye and can help you get the job done right.
STEP 2: CONTAIN THE MOISTURE
Most of the moisture in crawlspaces comes from the floor (dirt ground). The best way to contain that moisture is to use a plastic vapor barrier and line the foundation walls and the floor with it. This process is called encapsulation. The general process demands some thoughtful work with polyethylene lining which is laid out with some overlap and sealed at the seams. This should completely cover the entire problem areas and act as a barrier. There are several types of vapor barriers available in the market – the best thing, however, would be choose one that is thick and strong to last long.
Some people may decide to pour concrete to contain moisture and create a solid floor. However, it will take professionals to complete and quite a bit of your money. As with a waterproof basement, this concrete crawlspace will also need exterior moisture barriers to prevent leaks. It may also be necessary to dig out the crawlspace since the extra space would be need to pour the proper amount of concrete.
STEP 3: INSULATE THE CRAWL SPACE
Crawl space insulation helps control the temperature, which in turn prevents your crawl space from running into moisture problems. Furthermore, if you have pipes running through your crawl space, the insulation will help keep them from freezing when the weather is cold. As with everything else, the are several different kinds if insulation in the market. You must, however, work with rigid board insulation, which will keep off any possible water damage. Make sure to install the foam boards against the foundation walls (but not on the ceiling) with the help of mechanical fasteners and construction adhesive.
STEP 4: VENTILATE THE CRAWL SPACE
When it comes to your crawl space, proper ventilation is a must. That being said, it has also been a contentious topic. For several years, most building codes had crawl space ventilation as a mandatory feature – especially in the coastal areas, where they are instrumental in preventing water-pressure build-up from disturbing the home’s foundation in case of a flood. Experts today, however, are of the opinion that ventilation does more harm than good by inviting moisture. Every home – and the geographical area it is in is different; you must therefore try to get sound advice from a local contractor who can help you arrive at a more informed decision.
STEP 5: CONDITION THE CRAWL SPACE
No one wants to enter a storage crawl space to grab an item and find everything moist and covered in condensation. That is why we recommend every crawl space to be conditioned to prevent excess moisture build up. Depending on the planned use of the space, you may also want some climate control. If you find yourself unable to extend your HVAC into the crawl space or live in a high humid climate, you should try using a dehumidifier. When installed properly, a dehumidifier will ensure stored items stay dry and offers a backup to encapsulation which will only stop ground moisture from entering the space.
SO YOU HAVE YOUR CRAWL SPACE READY. NOW WHAT?
The next step is to arrange your newly renovated and dirt-free, mold-free and moisture-free crawl space! This too is no easy feat, though. No matter how neat your crawl space is, it is still a small area that requires careful organization.
How you arrange your newly-cleaned and moisture proofed basement or crawl space completely depends upon what you want to use it for. For instance, if you wish to use your crawl space as a storage space for those loved-but-rarely-used items, you should store them in airtight, plastic containers. This will help ensure that your belongings remain completely moisture-free.
You can put your crawl space to other uses as well – for instance, as a home office (especially if you don’t have one), or a study room that can be used by you or anyone in your household. You can also convert it into a library by stacking all of your books and adding some furniture to make space for sitting and reading books in peace!
Feel free to play around with the space as much as you like – after all, that is what all the hard work was for! That said, make sure to leave space around the ductwork and plumbing, so that service workers won’t have trouble while conducting any repairs or doing maintenance work. If you want an expert hand in this project, call Carolina Crawl Space Pros as they have the experience you need to transform your crawl space.