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Detailed Comparison of Excavated vs. Unexcavated Crawl Spaces

By Albert G. Croley
2K views 2 mins read

At the time of the construction of the building, I was so practical. But the thing that puts me in difficulty is crawl space!

Do you know why?

I know crawl space makes a huge difference in home improvement and renovation. It’s a much-needed option for easier access to utilities, insulation, and ventilation.

Interested to know what I considered when picking between excavated vs unexcavated crawl spaces.

Well, let me tell you, before making the final decision, I focused on the good side and the bad side of crawl space. So, I can weigh the pros and cons and finally take the ultimate call.

Keep reading to find out!

Key Takeaways
Excavated crawl spaces allow for optimal insulation and structural support, while unexcavated spaces rely on natural insulation but lack structural integrity.

Excavated vs Unexcavated Crawl Spaces: What Are the Differences?

At first, you see a huge difference between excavated and unexcavated crawl space.

When the foundation below the floor or areas beneath your building are intentionally dug out or excavated for use, it is called an excavated crawl space.

It is advantageous for properties with limited space.

On the other hand, unexcavated crawl space refers to the natural ground level and space beneath a building. It was not dug out or excavated.

Such crawl spaces involve a shallow environment without offering much vertical space to access for maintenance and repairs.

Here are the details:

Factor 1: Depth

Excavated crawl spaces offer a deep and huge space. You can excavate to create as deep a space as you need. That’s how it is possible to stand there or do any kind of task.

On the other hand, unexcavated crawl space never gives you enough space to stand. That’s why it’s hard to do any task like repair plumbing, maintenance lines, etc.

Factor 2: Accessibility

When you need to enhance accessibility below your building foundation as a homeowner, excavated crawl space is best.

Why, You may ask? Well, it’s because of easier access that professionals can navigate their tasks comfortably, like inspection, repair, and maintenance.

accessibility in excavated crawl space
Accessibility in Excavated Crawl Space

But, then again, you cannot get enough accessibility in an unexcavated crawl space, even though it’s hard to move there.

So, it’s getting tough for professionals to do repair and maintenance jobs.

Factor 3: Moisture Control

Excavated crawl space has vertical clearance. It’s helpful to ensure a dry environment there. Because of water infiltration, the proper moisture control strategy, and the drainage system, you can do it.

Due to limited vertical clearance, unexcavated crawl spaces make it hard to maintain a dry environment.

For that, it needs moisture management strategies. Also, it’s a challenging task because there is limited space. So, do things carefully.

Factor 4: Optimal Insulation

If you have excavated crawl space, it can contribute to getting the perfect temperature as it has enough space to allow for proper insulation.

Meaning, the comfort of your home and family members will increase.

On the other hand, the best side of unexcavated crawl space is that it provides natural insulation.

Do you know why? Because of the soil. You don’t need any insulation setup or material at all.

Factor 5: Structural Support

To achieve the overall structural integrity of your home, there is no better option than an excavated crawl space.

There is enough space and your building foundation will get adequate ventilation. Ultimately, keeping you safe from moisture-related issues like pest infestations and damage.

In contrast, an unexcavated crawl space may offer better natural form, but you won’t have much room there for maintenance tasks or repairs.

It typically involves moisture, water damage that leads to mold growth, and a few other things that can make your home’s structure weak.

Factor 6: Waterproofing

After digging or excavation, excavated crawl spaces may require additional support to keep them waterproof. Whereas excavated crawl space is not waterproof at all.

You need to ensure proper precautions to avoid potential water damage, moisture, the risk of mold growth, and structural decay.

Factor 7: Usage

In terms of usability, excavated crawl space offers a lot of room. It not only easily accommodates a person, but it also becomes a usable space for storage or living as well.

While, the unexcavated crawl space doesn’t have much room or visuals, which does not encourage anyone to live there. For human occupation or storage options, such space is not suitable at all.

Factor 8: Ventilation

Excavated crawl space offers more space, which means more areas for ventilation. It makes your crawl space more accessible, and this is the thing that helps you make air circulation better. It also helps to prevent moisture buildup and mold.

ventilation in excavated crawl space
Ventilation in Excavated Crawl Space

However, unexcavated crawl spaces offer limited accessible space and may be more prone to moisture and ventilation.

Factor 9: Maintenance

Excavated crawl space often needs proper maintenance to ensure and improve easier access. Remember, it is man-made space.

Whereas unexcavated crawl spaces need less maintenance compared to excavated ones, as they always take shape naturally. They also need less maintenance compared to the excavated crawl space.

Factor 10: Health and Safety

Excavated crawl space is much safer and ensures health and safety. It’s also true that this space has better moisture control.

You can even make sure of proper sealing and insulation. Such steps reduce different types of issues, like mildew and mold, to a great extent.

Unexcavated crawl space has natural insulation. And thus, it keeps the temperature regulated, but it doesn’t ensure overall safety.

Factor 11: Building Codes

If you have already decided to go for an excavated crawl space, then the rules and regulations will be liberal because they are already in your project permission.

So, there is no need to get additional permission. It is one of the primary advantages of excavated crawl space.

On the other hand, for unexcavated crawl spaces, you must follow the regulations and building codes of the local government. Most of the time, it is imposed for safety and environmental issues.

Factor 12: Cost-Efficiency

In terms of the cost of excavation, excavated crawl space is expensive and may be more challenging.

To complete the excavation process, it might require heavy equipment, labor, and different types of material. All these things come with a cost.

So, it can put some pressure on your renovation project.

An unexcavated crawl is undoubtedly the best option to save money. To keep it in shape, it needs minimal excavation. And you also don’t need huge labor and material investments. Overall, it saves your pocket.

How to Choose the Right Crawl Space for You?

Finally, it’s time to pick the right crawl space!

checking crawl space
Checking Crawl Space

But how? Well, let’s find out together:

Current Condition

First off, I’m talking about your area. Is it prone to flooding or any other environmental hazards or moisture?

To pick the right one, assess it. A wrong choice can put you in a critical situation.

Access and Logistics

If you choose excavated crawl spaces, that means you need huge labor, equipment, and adequate access to other important logistics.

Also, you need to dig the area for headroom, facing hassle and challenges in terms of accessibility.

As a result, excavation may not be feasible or disruptive to others, but an unexcavated crawl space may be a more convenient way to do it.


What about your budget? If it is enough, then, you can go excavating the area.

Otherwise don’t. Excavating crawl spaces typically puts some pressure on your overall budget. It needs labor, equipment, and materials—all of these are going to cut your pocket.

But it can give you a long-term benefit as well. On the other hand, unexcavated crawl spaces don’t require such an investment at all.

Addressing Issues

Excavated crawl space lets you access the space and address different types of underlying issues without any hassle. It has proper access, and that lets you solve the issue.

On the other hand, the unexcavated one might require additional measures like encapsulation or dehumidification to mitigate moisture.


Excavated crawl space is more usable than unexcavated crawl space. You can use such space without any worry, especially for storage or installation equipment. But you cannot get any functional use from an unexcavated crawl space.

Both options have advantages and disadvantages. But you need to figure out which match is closest to your requirements. Choose your crawl space according to it.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you need to make the ultimate decision about the crawl space. It usually takes a test, but this excavated vs. unexcavated crawl space guide will make it easier to make the decision.

As a homeowner, you must focus equally on its advantages and disadvantages. 

Moreover, consulting with a professional can also help you make an informed decision.

After all, it goes without further saying that a perfect crawl space may increase the overall stability and health of your dream home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the two main types of floor plans?

2D and 3D floor plans are the two main types of floor plans. The basic difference between these two plans is that 2D comes in sketch form. On the other hand, a 3D floor plan is a diagram that is illustrated in detail.

Are there any eco-friendly options for crawl spaces?

For both excavated and unexcavated crawl spaces, there is eco-friendly insulation material available. To prevent mold growth and improve air circulation with developed quality, such eco-friendly options impact dramatically.

Is it cheaper to do a crawl space or a slab?

Crawl space costs more than slabs! The cost is almost 2.5 times double. A crawl space needs much labor and material, whereas a slam foundation needs less. Also, crawl space needs to be protected from mold, rot, and pests. For that, it needs high-quality material that is also costly.

Can I use an unexcavated crawl space for storage?

An unexcavated crawl space doesn’t have as much space as an excavated one offers. It has limited accessibility. But with careful planning and preparation, it is possible to use unexcavated crawl space for storage.

How long does a crawl space foundation last?

The crawl space foundation is known as the strongest foundation that is used for home foundations these days. Because of its incredible strength and longevity of almost 10 to 15 years, many homeowners choose crawl space.

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