More than 42 million homes in the U.S. have basements and this type of foundation can often be found in the Northeast and Midwest. A lot of homeowners prefer this foundation since it can be transformed into a living area. This is a convenient way to add square footage to your home without actually expanding your house.
While basements can be used for storage, they are often turned into an entertainment area, spare bedroom, fan cave, home gym, or even a bathroom. Let’s explore different types of basements and reasons why someone should or shouldn’t opt for this type of foundation.
What Is a Basement?
A basement is, simply put, an area of the home that is partially or entirely underground. In the beginning, basements were used for storing food and water, since they are dark and cooler. However, they are also moist, which makes them a perfect habitat for pests, mold, and mildew. Luckily, today there is a wide range of waterproofing methods that can turn this damp place into a dry and cozy living space. Nowadays, finished basements can be seen all over the U.S. An area that was once used only for food or utilities now serves as a fully functional space for living and recreation.
Types of Basements
Four different types of basements can be found all over the country.
A cellar is not located under the whole structure, but only a part of it. It is mainly used for storing produce, wine, water, and preserved foods. Cellars have a lot of standing room so homeowners can bring in and take out items without any problems. Cellars can be easily transformed into a living space. When converting a cellar, homeowners even have the option to extend the basement across the rest of the home.
While half of this type of basement is above the ground level, the other half is underground. This type of basement often has windows. This kind of basement usually stretches across the entire home, and if the homeowners decide to finish it, it can double the living space.
A walkout basement has a wall with a door and windows on the ground level. It often has normal-size windows that can open and close.
This basement is located below the walkout or daylight basement and is connected to it with stairs. It sits completely underground and therefore doesn’t have any doors or windows to the outside. The subbasement is mostly used for storage.
Which Parts of the Country Have Basements?
Basements can be often found in colder parts of the country where the foundation needs to be built below the frost line. This is why they are most common in the north, but can also be seen in western and central states.
Basement Design Considerations
There are three different ways to construct a basement.
Masonry Wall Basements
The walls of these basements are made of masonry block units. Unfortunately, the problem with this material is that walls made of it have many joints and are prone to water seepage. To avert this problem, contractors need to waterproof the walls.
Precast Panel Basements
The easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to build a basement is with precast basement walls. These walls are constructed someplace else and then carried into place with a crane. Precast panel walls are built with high-strength, low-water concrete mix, so they are more water-resistant than masonry walls.
Poured Concrete Wall Basements
Many basements are made of poured concrete walls. The construction begins with the pouring of a footing for the foundation. When the concrete is poured it stays contained with forms until it completely cures. The upside of these walls is that they have no joints and are much denser than walls made of masonry block units. These basement walls are strong and more fire and water-resistant.
Basement Pros and Cons
Just like any other type of foundation, basements also have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Additional space: Basements add to the square footage of your home.
- Easily convertible: As mentioned, basements can be easily converted into a guest room, a fan cave, a home gym, an entertainment area, or whatever else the homeowners want.
- Increases your home’s value: If you wish to sell your home, the fact that your house has a basement will be very attractive to potential buyers.
- Offers seasonal comfort: Since they are mostly underground, basements are cooler and provide a comfortable space during hot summer months.
- Safe rooms: Basements provide shelter during tornadoes and hurricanes.
- Additional construction costs: Basements are more expensive to build than other foundation types. This is not a surprise since a lot of ground needs to be excavated to make room for this space.
- Dampness and moisture issues: Because basements are more humid than other parts of the home, they are an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. This is why it is recommended to waterproof the basement and keep it as dry as possible.
- Dangers of flooding: During storms or due to snowmelt, basements can flood. When water enters your basement not only does it destroy your possessions, but it also creates a suitable environment for mold growth. What is even worse, airborne mold spores can contaminate the air in your entire home and cause health issues.
- Risk of pest infestations: Dark and moist basements provide an ideal home for all kinds of pests.
Waterproofing the Basement
Although unprotected basements are prone to moisture issues, you can easily avert this problem by investing in waterproofing methods. These solutions can turn your damp basement into a comfortable living space. With quality waterproofing methods, you can prevent leaks, dampness, wood rot, and mold growth.
If you wish to waterproof your basement and protect it from future water damage, contact professionals at ASF. We proudly serve areas in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama, so schedule a free basement inspection and repair quote today. One of our inspectors will assess the situation in your home and provide you with recommended solutions tailored to your repair needs.