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Can a Barndominium Have a Crawl Space? Important Facts to Know About 5 Types of Foundations

While most barndominiums are built on slab foundations, you can erect a steel frame over almost any type of basement foundation. Can a Barndominium Have a Crawl Space? Here is what you should know before deciding to build your barndominium over a crawl space.

What Is a Crawl Space?

Can a Barndominium Have a Crawl Space

The purpose of a crawl space is to provide access to electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems. A crawl space is basically a short basement foundation. The height is often two to three feet tall, which provides just enough space for a grown person to crawl inside.

Some crawl spaces are built with just walls and a dirt floor while others have concrete floors. While most crawl spaces are unfinished, some homeowners choose to finish the space with wood flooring and sides.

Crawl spaces also typically need protection from moisture, especially in warm, humid regions. A crawl space may include a vapor barrier or extra insulation to help protect against moisture. Can a Barndominium Have a Crawl Space?

Types of Foundations for Barndominiums

A crawl space is one of several options when building a barndominium. Before choosing a crawl space, you should explore the pros and cons of each type of foundation:

  • Slab foundation
  • Crawl space
  • Full basement foundation
  • Partial basement foundation
  • Walkout basement foundation

When comparing options, consider the region where you plan on building your barndominium. Slab foundations are best suited for wet, hot, and humid regions, as they are less likely to suffer structural damage in these conditions compared to other types of foundations.

In cold, dry areas, crawl space or basement may work better. Crawl spaces and basements are better suited for cold regions, as the concrete expands in cooler weather and contracts as the temperatures warm.

Here is a closer look at the pros and cons of each option.

Slab Foundation

Slab Foundation

Slab foundations are thick concrete slabs. The slab is often built on top of a thermal layer to provide extra protection from fluctuations in the ground temperature.

The frame of a barndominium has steel posts. The posts are secured to the ground around the sides of the slab foundation.

A slab foundation is the most affordable option for your barndominium. Slab foundations cost about $4 per square foot. A crawl space may cost closer to $7 per square foot. A full basement foundation typically costs $10 to $20 per square foot, depending on whether you decide to finish the basement.

Crawl Space Foundation

Crawl space with insulation

Crawl spaces are typically two to three feet tall and may elevate the bottom of the barndominium slightly above ground level. The extra space offers room to run electrical wires and plumbing. The crawl space may also provide space for heating and cooling ducts.

Technicians and plumbers can reach electrical and mechanical components easier, as the wires and pipes are not buried in a concrete slab. They can simply crawl under your barndominium.

Crawl spaces also allow you to insulate the ground floor of your barndominium. You can add blanket or spray foam insulation to the floor joists.

In some regions, crawl spaces require insulation and moisture protection. You may need to pay to have the crawl space encapsulated, which involves sealing the walls and floor to keep moisture out.

Full Basement Foundation

Full Basement Foundation
Stairs To Empty Basement Storage Room

A full basement foundation is what most people think of when talking about basements. The walls are made of cinder blocks and concrete. The floor is typically a cement slab.

The main difference between a crawl space and a full basement is the height. You can walk through a full basement without crouching. However, in many regions, a full basement does not count as living space unless it is finished.

If you plan on adding a bedroom in the basement, you may need to add a specific type of window to ensure that people can evacuate in the event of a fire.

Installing a full basement is relatively costly, as you need to excavate more land to make room for the basement. The steel posts used for the barndominium also need to be anchored to brackets in the foundation. These steps increase the cost and timeframe for building the foundation.

Partial Basement Foundation

A partial basement eliminates the hassle of modifying the frame of the barndominium to fit the foundation. The partial basement is placed inside the perimeter of the slab foundation, so it does not impact the frame of the barndominium.

You can also choose from various heights for the partial basement. You could add a storage cellar, crawl space, or an extra room.

Walkout Basement Foundation

Walkout basements are built on properties with large slopes or hills. The front of the foundation typically starts at the top of the slope. The back end of the foundation reaches the bottom of the slope, allowing for a back door in the basement.

Building a barndominium on a walkout basement includes many of the same challenges as building on a full basement. You may need to anchor the steel posts using brackets. Walkout basements are also the most expensive option, due to the extra work involved.

Walkout Basement Foundation

Conclusion – Can a Barndominium Have a Crawl Space?

Most barndominiums are built on slab foundations. Slab foundations are more likely to crack or shift in cold areas and make it difficult to rearrange plumbing and electrical work after building the barndominium.

Walk-out basements, partial basements, and full basements offer more space compared to a crawl space. However, basement foundations also cost more.

Crawl spaces make sense when you want to add space for electrical, plumbing, and HVAC components, but do not want a basement foundation. Access to the mechanical and electrical parts can save time and money when remodeling your barndominium.

Building a barndominium on top of a crawl space also allows you to add extra insulation below the ground floor. The extra insulation may improve the energy efficiency of your home, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs.

As crawl spaces are built with footings that extend deeper into the ground, crawl spaces are less prone to cracking and shifting in cold regions.