All About Basements
Basements have a long and interesting history that spans many eras and cuts across different cultures. They grew out of the concept of cellars and pantries. In modern homes, they are often used as living spaces.
Basements help anchor a home to the ground while extending its foundation below the frost line. This helps preserve the structural integrity of the foundation.
The Census Bureau estimates that around 42 million homeowners in America have basements in their homes. Here’s all you need to know about them.
What Is a Basement?
Essentially, a basement is an underground room, or a part of a room, that’s partially or completely beneath the ground level. Before refrigeration, homeowners would store their food and drinks (wine, beer, and even water) in basements to keep them fresh and usable.
The most common disadvantage of basements is that they’re prone to water-related damage and pest problems. Water causes mold, mildew, and floods which, in turn, lead to serious structural issues for the whole home as a whole. Still, you can avoid and prevent these damages before they occur with professional help.
Waterproofing your basement is key if you want to keep it safe and secure. This is now pretty much a standard across the country. Since lots of families use their basements as a space for workouts, guest rooms, and hobbies, it’s important to keep them dry.
The following are some of the most common types of basements:
- Not all basements are fully underground, as we’ve said. Daylight ones are half under and half above the ground, meaning you can have windows in the latter part. This is great because it allows sunlight to come in and make your basement perfect as a living space. Just like cellars, you can expand them to cover the whole area of your home.
- In some cases, homeowners can have units under walkout or daylight basements. These subbasements are completely below the ground with no doors or windows. They simply have stairs that allow you to come into them from above.
- Most basements will have stairs that allow you to walk into them from inside your home. However, walkout basements have doors to your yard. This is, of course, if they’re partially underground. They’re similar to daylight basements as they usually have windows. They’re also suitable for living space renovation.
- Homeowners use cellars mostly for storage. They lie under a small portion of the home. In most cases, you’ll find food and drinks like wine and craft beer under there. Cellars have plenty of room for you to stand up in, which makes them easily accessible, unlike crawl spaces. The height also gives you an option to renovate them into a living space. And if you feel like it, you can expand these basements to cover the whole space under your home.
Which Parts of the Country Have Basements?
Basements are common in the colder areas of the U.S. where the foundation needs to be built below the frost line. With that in mind, most homes in the western part of the country including the Midwest have basements. The northern, western, and central states are the heartland of basements.
Basement Pros and Cons
Like with anything, there are both advantages and disadvantages to homes with basements. That said, the quality of the unit plays a major role in whether it is a good or bad addition to a building.
- Basements allow you to maximize the square footage of your property, offering valuable space.
- The basement lets you create expanded living spaces, including recreation rooms, man caves, bathrooms, and more.
Increases your home’s value:
- If you’re looking to sell, a basement makes your home much more attractive to buyers.
Offers seasonal comfort:
- Basements provide cooler spaces during the hot summer months.
- Basements offer a safe haven in dangerous weather like during tornadoes and hurricanes because they are built completely underground.
Additional construction costs:
- While basements technically offer you additional square footage, they will generally cost you more. Adding a basement to the plans for your new house requires digging deeper foundations to carve out the space. Thus, it will automatically cost you more in terms of construction material and labor costs.
Dampness and moisture issues:
- Basements tend to be humid, providing the best environment for mold and mildew growth.
Dangers of flooding:
- Basements are prone to flooding, especially if you do not have sump pumps set in place to drain water out.
Risk of pest infestations:
- With high moisture levels and poor access to sunlight, basements provide the best places for pests and creepy crawlies to build their homes.
- Given that they are underground areas, basements tend to be higher in humidity which supports mold growth.
Waterproofing the Basement
Basements are prone to moisture issues and structural problems, which can undermine their use. You can control moisture and create a dry, habitable space by waterproofing this area. Basement waterproofing will also forestall problems like leaks, dampness, wood rot, and mold growth.
If you want to fix your damp basement or resolve other basement issues, contact your local foundation repair expert. We’ll perform a free basement inspection and provide you with a waterproofing estimate.