Dig out a crawl space? Good investment?

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Just curious if anyone has any experience digging out crawl spaces to make livable basement space?  I have a house in a nicer area of Cincinnati (Wyoming), I got it for $240k, houses nearby are selling in the upper $300's but have a little more space.  The only other major repair needed is the kitchen, other than that it's pretty basic stuff.  I'm curious if anyone has dug out a crawl space to add square feet to the house and if this is a good investment (could be added as square feet to the listing with a entry door to the basement also added).  Or is it better to do a room addition for more space?

For reference, my crawl space is already about 5ft deep, I would want to dig to have a normal ~ 8ft ceiling. It would add about 900 sq feet of space, and if I added a bedroom/bath, etc I could really improve the specs on the house. 

If you've done this before I would love to hear your experience.  If you have a contractor in Cincinnati area who does this I would definitely like their info.


When you dig out the crawl space you undermine the foundation and it will fail unless it was designed to be 8 ft deep instead of the 5 ft it currently is.

To be sure, get a structural engineer that specializes in residential remodel to look at it.

It's usually not cost effective unless you are landlocked and cannot do an at grade addition.

@David Hayes   I hope you are consulting an expert and pulling the proper permits... Footing, Foundation, Perimeter ground drain, floor framing... all applicable....

I haven't actually done it.  I have dug out crawl spaces when there wasn't enough room for plumbing and if they needed insulated, etc.  I have seen this done, and worked on houses where it was done.  you need to leave the footing alone - or it is not cost effective.  Normally I have seen people come most of a foot from the footing and then pour another footing and add another concrete or block wall. 

My general impression is that this is the kind of thing you do yourself if you are counting your labor as cheap or free.  If there is room to build on and you are hiring it done, I strongly suspect that is the best option.

I actually live in Wyoming and I am very familiar with the area. Message me about the details and I can give you a more on-the-ground experience. But my preliminary thoughts is that it is probably a bad idea unless it is a) for a home you are going to live and stay and b) you get cheap labor. The space won't count in your square foot calculations and IIRC, the MLS doesn't report them. Basements are a good selling point, and somewhat expected around here, but IMHO don't generate a lot of added value to the home.

Wyoming, with the top schools in the state and among the best in the nation, is in good demand for families.  Anything you can do to make it more appealing to families in that price point, the better.  If it doesn't have it, the closer you can get to 4 beds 2.5+ baths the better.

It would be cheaper to put an addition on the house . I have helped dig 3 in 30 years , we used bobcats and toro dingos .  Its a lot more work than it looks , and locating the stairs always sucked up space upstairs.

Thanks everyone for your input, that is about what I suspected.  

I wanted to bump this thread because I have a similar question:

I currently have a partial un-finished basement. The rest is crawl space.  I want to finish the basement but the idea was presented to me to possibly "notch out" a 10x10 area of the crawl space to create a storage room (doing this allows me to utilize the entire basement for living purposes while also providing much need storage space). 

From my non-professional point of view, it seems possible.  Highly expensive, but possible.  Am I wrong to think this? 

definitely does not sound worth the hassle.

I have seen this done.  There are very few basements in Texas.  The two I have seen were both safe rooms.  They were actually done this way for security purposes.

They were completely dug by hand.  They are in the Dallas area, in a place where piers are often down to bed rock.

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