How to Dig Out a Crawlspace

Lead Image
  • 6-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Spray paint or powdered chalk
Wheelbarrow or mortar mixing pan
Carpenters level
Adjustable steel supports

A crawlspace is a narrow space left between the floor of a building and the ground, allowing you to store items and easily access wires and pipes for maintenance and repair. Many houses have crawlspaces instead of basements. Crawlspaces can be dug-out and extended to form a fully functional basement. Although this task can be completed by a professional, doing it yourself will save on costs.

Follow these steps to carefully dig-out a crawlspace to eventually create a full basement, or give yourself more room, without damaging the foundation of your house.

Step 1 - Measure and Mark Periphery

Use a measuring tape and powdered chalk to measure and mark the edges of the basement. Make sure it is at least 3 feet away from the foundation to maintain its integrity and stability. Making it too close may cause it to crack under the weight of the house.

Step 2 - Dig Over the Demarcated Area

Using a small shovel and wheelbarrow, slowly dig a ramp down the crawlspace, moving your way forward. Collect dirt in the wheelbarrow and dispose of it once it is full. You can also collect dirt in a mortar mixing pan if there is not sufficient room for a wheelbarrow; however, it will need to be emptied more frequently. You can also attach rope to the pan so that you can pull it out and empty it easily.

Step 3 - Dig Holes for Support Posts

Continue digging until you hit a support post, which is where you will dig a new foundation to install a support post. Dig a hole next to the support post of the crawlspace that is 3 inches lower than the depth of the basement floor and several inches in diameter.

Step 4 - Install Support Posts and Reinforce With Concrete

Carefully lower a new support post into the hole. Use an adjustable steel support post that can extend several feet until it is flush against the ceiling of the newly dug area.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions to mix concrete and water in a bucket with a hoe, and pour it into the hole around the support post so it is held firmly in the ground. Continue digging your way forward, repeating the procedure to install new posts when you hit other support posts.

Step 5 - Check Level of Dirt

Extend a string at an equal distance from the ceiling and the ground to ensure that you are digging at a uniform depth. Make necessary adjustments by removing any dirt for sections that are higher than their surrounding, or adding dirt if they are lower. You can also check the floor to make sure it is level by using a carpenter’s level after you finish digging a section of the crawl space and making necessary adjustments.