You are looking at doing some house leveling to repair your block and base foundation, but your home is low to the ground. Did you know that when crawl space homes are too close to the ground it can cause foundation issues from termites, excess moisture, and wood rot?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have worked on thousands of crawl space homes over our 35+ years in business. Some homes are high off the ground, while others have very little clearance in the crawl space between the home and the soil.
We know that there are some very good reasons to have a properly elevated and accessible crawl space – because we have seen the results (and had to repair them) when a home sits too close to the ground.
This article will review 8 practical and beneficial reasons to consider raising your whole home during the house leveling process. We will explore a few drawbacks to raising your home too.
While we love working in a spacious crawl space under your home, this is not about our needs and wants, it’s about the long-term health of your home’s foundation and your happiness as well.
Situations Where We Recommend Whole Home Raising
When you were thinking about getting your crawl space foundation repaired, you probably were not thinking that the whole home needed to be raised. There are particular situations where we might recommend that the whole house be elevated. Here are the criteria a home should meet to be a good candidate for whole-home raising:
- A block and base-type crawl space home,
- Has wood or wood-like siding,
- Has no additions,
- Is on the smaller side and regularly shaped, and
- The floor joists rest less than 18 inches from the ground.
Homes that are good candidates for raising are sitting too low to the ground and causing problems. The fact that the home is not elevated enough might even be the reason we are having to do the house leveling repairs in the first place.
This important point bears repeating: *The fact that the home is not far enough from the ground might even be the main reason we are having to do the house leveling repairs in the first place.*
It feels like I should elaborate on each of these qualifiers a little, but I’m not going to do it here since this article is focussing more on the reasons to raise rather than how we decide which homes need this most. We’ve got another article that expands on what homes are and are not good candidates for whole-home raising.
8 Beneficial Reasons for Raising Your Home
There are quite a few reasons that raising your home could be beneficial for you, your home, and your foundation. We know that a home that is too close to the ground is far more susceptible to wood rot from moisture, as well as termites and drainage problems. Here are 8 great reasons to raise your home during the house leveling process:
- Your home will be easier to maintain.
- It will have improved access to utilities (plumbing, cable, electric, gas) for repair.
- The threat of termites will be lessened.
- Improved airflow minimizes the potential for dry rot and mold issues.
- The drainage situation will improve under and around the home.
- A raised home that rests higher on your lot has a nicer appearance.
- If you are putting on an addition, sometimes it’s necessary.
- It can be less expensive and less messy to raise the home during house leveling.
Don’t worry, I will elaborate on all of these reasons below. This list presents a lot of very good, and practical reasons to go ahead and raise the home at the same time that it’s being leveled. It’s that whole *kill two birds with one stone* thing . . . although I wish someone would come up with a less deadly saying. I’ll work on that . . .
1. Easier Maintenance
When you can see underneath your home and get underneath your home easier, it’s easier to maintain. When a home is really low to the ground and you can’t even see under it or get under there to take a look, you can’t really see if there is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Just being able to easily check in your crawl space under the home every once in a while gives you a far better chance of preventing major issues by finding them early. Plus, performing any needed maintenance will be less intimidating simply because it’s easy to access.
2. Improved Utility Access
Anytime you do find a problem under your home, it’s going to be way easier to get under there to fix things if it is raised higher. The lack of clearance in a tight crawl space makes for harder work of any kind that will take longer to complete because there is little space to move around.
Contractors charge either based on time or on how difficult it is to do things or a little of both.
If it’s *a real pain* to get under your home for repairs and takes a lot longer due to the struggle, then you can end up paying more even for simple repairs. If there is more room under there to work in, any needed repairs can go much quicker and save you money in the long run.
3. Discourages Termites
Termites love damp conditions. Termites especially love damp, dark conditions where they can get to work without being discovered for a long time. If you have better ventilation, airflow, visibility, and access, it will lessen the threat of damage from termites and other wood-destroying insects.
Your pest control guy can get under the home and look around to spot and head off problems more quickly. The exterminator can also more easily and thoroughly treat any issues that they find if they can get in there and move around without major barriers like low crawlspace clearance.
4. Improved Airflow
A home that is raised higher will have better ventilation and airflow to dry things out under there. When it rains, water can stay under a crawl space home for a while unless it can get aired out. The higher your home is off the ground, the more ventilation and quicker drying capabilities it will have.
Keeping things dry and well-ventilated under your home will prevent wood rot, mold decay, and the aforementioned termites too. Raising the home can lessen the chances for you to need any kind of *major* house leveling repairs again (though crawl space maintenance will always be needed).
5. Improved Drainage
Any time you increase the ventilation and airflow, you also naturally improve the drainage situation. Standing water or water that takes a very long time to drain away or dry out is a recipe for trouble with any home foundation.
Expansive clay soil that stays wet will continue to expand and move, push, or damage your complex crawl space structure.
Maintaining a dry crawl space area prevents foundation settlement due to excessive moisture and standing water. You can also keep a better eye on the crawl space to identify drainage issues and improve the drainage situation around your foundation with various remedies.
6. Improved Appearance
A home that is elevated and *looking out* over the lot has a grander appearance. It just looks a little nicer than a squatty house that is hunkered down trying to hide in the dirt and make itself small. Just raising the elevation of your home can make it look bigger and more impressive.
Hey, it might just be a cosmetic reason, but an improved look to your home is still a decent reason to consider raising your home if work has to be done anyway.
7. Necessary for Additions
Now, there are municipal building codes that most builders will need to abide by and one of them is to have a home resting at least 18 to 24 inches off the ground. So if you were adding an addition to your low-lying crawl space home (or planning to in the future), you might have to elevate the existing structure so that it seamlessly matches up with the new addition.
Building codes are typically in place in cities, but more than 60 or 70 years ago, nobody had much in the way of residential building codes. In the country, there are no codes at all even now. But since we do have building codes, they are there for a reason, and it is usually because it’s somehow better for the home or for you.
A builder adding an addition to your home will likely need to follow codes and this could make it necessary for your to raise the original home to match.
8. Less Expensive/Messy During House Leveling
Doing any kind of foundation work on a crawlspace home requires contractors to get under your home somehow. If a house is too low to the ground to allow for people to get under there, then the only way to access the crawl space and work is by cutting through your floors from the inside and working that way to repair the problem during the house leveling.
Cutting in through your floors to do house leveling is far more costly and time-consuming than the repair team being able to crawl under your house with ease. You also would likely have to move out of your home for this type of work because any rooms that need repairs will be uninhabitable during the house leveling process.
As an alternative to cutting through floors for house leveling, if the whole house can be elevated, then the repair crew can perform the foundation repairs and leveling outside and underneath your house instead. Raising the whole home can save you quite a bit of money for materials and labor costs during the house leveling process in a case like this.
How Much Does It Cost to Raise the Whole Home?
How much does it cost to raise a whole home anyway? Most of the recent house leveling/home raising projects we have done recently cost between $7,000 to $12,000.
How Long Does It Take to Elevate a Home?
Every house is different of course, but on average the elevation process probably adds one extra day to a house leveling project. Typically, it would take 3 to 5 days for house elevating and leveling.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Raising Your Whole Home?
Now that you know about all the benefits of home elevation and a little about cost and timelines, now you want to know about any disadvantages, don’t you?
We aim to be fair and unbiased when we are presenting you with foundation repair options to consider. Elevating your home during the house leveling process does come with a few drawbacks to mention. Elevating your whole home while house leveling can:
- Add costs for plumbing or other utility line adjustments,
- Need skirting decisions & costs to change/add more, and
- Might uncover more damage than expected.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been helping homeowners navigate foundation issues for 35+ years serving Bryan, College Station, and surrounding Brazos Valley communities like Madisonville and Brenham. We want what’s best for you and your home and that means helping you weigh all the options.
For a deeper dive into the disadvantages of elevating the entire house during your crawl space foundation repair, check out, “House Leveling: 3 Drawbacks to Elevating Your Whole Home,” for more info.