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Is crawlspace encapsulation worth it? 

Houses are complicated. They’re not only a place to live: they are valuable investments. But they have to be maintained and updated.

Historically, property is one of the only investments that can be counted on to appreciate, and recent real estate trends have pushed homes to be even more valuable and/or expensive.

DIY entertainment—from This Old House to Love it or List It—highlight how home improvements can offer a quick Return on Investment (ROI) for homeowners who want to boost their asking prices in order to maximize profit when selling a house.

To determine whether crawlspace encapsulation is worth the cost or will increase your home’s value , we must look at cost, value, and return on the investment.

Cost vs. Value

The Cost vs. Value Report, produced by the website remodeling,  evaluates data from 101 US Housing markets to showcase which home improvement projects lead to immediate home-value gains.

In 2020, the best way to get a return on a home improvement project was to install manufactured stone veneer.

Manufactured stone veneer looks like this:

If you put that on the side of your house, you can expect to immediately recoup 94.5% of your investment.

There is no data collected for 1971, but maybe the big hitter back then was asbestos floor tile and avocado-colored paint.

Other popular home improvement projects, like a major kitchen remodel, will bring you less. A major kitchen remodel will bring you a 53.9% immediate return.

So, in 2022, if you spend $10,000 on manufactured stone veneer you earn back $9,450 if you go to sell immediately. If you invest $10,000 on a kitchen remodel, you get back $5,390.

The Cost Value Chart does not list any projects with an ROI of higher than 94.5%. How the realtors on TV get 200% back on every project they touch is probably the magic of television.

ROI on Encapsulation

To the best of our knowledge, no one has captured data that shows exactly what the ROI of a crawl space encapsulation is.

In the absence of this data, you have to rely on anecdotal evidence and common sense.

The purpose of a crawl space encapsulation is to protect your home by making your home more energy efficient and less susceptible to water damage. Water damage is the leading cause of all property damage. Water is the most destructive force on the planet.

So, let’s take a scenario.

Let’s say you own a house that you are looking to sell. The kitchen is outdated, and the siding is sun bleached, and you are afraid to get in the crawl space because it lurches with stagnant water, is draped in cake-thick cobwebs, and smells like the mouth of a lost, blind dog.

Where should your money go?

Or, let’s say you aren’t going to sell.

You just bought a house. The kitchen is still outdated, the siding remains sun bleached, and the crawlspace is where nightmares are made.

Where should you invest?

Any aesthetic investment you make will always have to be remade.

If you update the kitchen today, in 20 years it will be outdated. Here is a kitchen from a home built in 2002:

Today, this would not be considered an updated kitchen, and the same can be said of any aesthetic project made today. Again, used to, you could buy an avocado green refrigerator. Like, there were avocado green refrigerator options.

Manufactured stone veneer as we know it today is fairly new. It doesn’t appear on the Cost Vs. Value report until 2015, where it debuted as the number two most valuable home improvement project in America, allegedly fetching a 92.2% ROI.

Do you think that one will stand the test of time? Do you think 15 years from now, twenty-something newlyweds looking to buy a home and start a family will refuse to purchase anything that doesn’t look like stone and feel like vinyl. Will that scream “good investment” to them?

Regardless, your foundation is your home’s foundation, and every cliche and religious allusion and iteration of the word—from face makeup to Founding Fathers–denotes primary importance.

Foundation literally means: the base. The start. The beginning.

A granite countertop might look better than a vinyl countertop but it also weighs hundreds of pounds more. And no matter what it looks like, or how much a chart tells you it’s worth, if it’s sitting on a floor supported by a questionable foundation, it will begin to sink.

If you installed a granite countertop on top of this:

You’d literally be sinking money.

Our simple rule of thumb is this: if you gag when you think about your crawl space, you need to invest in your crawl space.

If you can eat a picnic in your crawl space, go ahead and put 1,000 pounds of granite in the kitchen.

But does that answer the question?

Not really.

As of now, crawl space encapsulation systems are worth a ton of money to the people who know about crawl space encapsulations.

Home buyers with allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases and bad crawl space histories understand that they need clean, mold free air and a crawl space they never want to think about.

If you’ve ever owned a home with a questionable crawl space, you will have perhaps woken at 2:00 in the morning and spent a few sleepless hours wondering whether or not your bed would fall through the floor, or whether or not your children were breathing moldy air.

What an encapsulated crawl space will provide you is a restful night on a solid foundation and allow you the piece of mind to know that if you put fake rocks on your house, the house won’t fall apart beneath the weight of it.

Is there anything worth more than that?