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.
If the idea of having a basement sounds foreign to you, read on to learn about the different types of basements, their advantages and disadvantages, and ways to protect yours if your home has a basement.
What Is a Basement?
A basement is a room or several rooms that are either partially or fully underground. In most cases, they go eight feet deep and have a concrete slab foundation. They also often have a rectangular plan, a stairway entrance, and gently sloping roofs.
Most basements are constructed using concrete blocks below grade and bricks or wood siding above grade. Homeowners use this space for recreation, storage, and living. Their location makes basements susceptible to pests, mold, and moisture.
Types of Basements
There are about four types of basements. Let’s look at each of them briefly.
Daylight basement: Half of the room sits above ground while the other half is underground. The half that’s above ground has windows that bring in fresh air and light up the basement. When complete, this type extends across buildings and doubles as living or usable space.
Walkout basement: This type is either partially submerged or sits at the ground level. It also has full-size windows, a door to the outside, and stairs that take you to the exit.
Sub-basement: This type of basement sits underground and has no windows or doors to the outside. It’s connected to the rest of the home by a staircase.
Deep basements: They’re a common feature in large residential properties, plant services, and car parks as well as commercial buildings or mixed-use schemes.
Common Basement Wall Materials
When building your basement walls, your contractor may use any of the following materials:
Masonry blocks: Made from masonry blocks, these walls have numerous joints that connect the blocks. This type needs proper reinforcement and waterproofing to remain functional.
Precast panel: If you are mindful of construction costs, this may be the wall type for you as it’s affordable. It’s made using a strong and water-resistant concrete mix. In most cases, the panels are made off-site and brought to the site.
Poured concrete: Forms are assembled and concrete is poured to form walls. The resulting walls are typically denser than masonry walls and have zero joints. Also, they’re resistant to water and fire and can withstand lateral forces from environmental factors.
Advantages of Basements
When remodeled, basements create valuable space on your property. You can use them as storage areas, laundry rooms, or recreational spaces. Basements can also increase the value of your home. You can easily attract serious buyers looking for homes with expanded living spaces with a basement.
Another benefit of having a basement is that it provides you with a cool living space in hot and sultry weather. When the weather gets rough, you can go down and shelter yourself from tornadoes.
Disadvantages of Basements
Constructing a basement foundation will generally cost you more than building a home with a slab or crawl space. Your contractor will have to dig a deeper foundation to carve out the basement. That’s not to mention they’re likely to use more materials and labor, which can drive up building costs.
Basements are also prone to moisture buildup, flooding, and condensation. All these issues can instigate mold or fungal growth and lead to wood rot. If cracks develop, there’s the risk that pests could invade the basement. The cracks could also compromise your home’s integrity.
Protecting the Basement
Waterproofing the basement is the best way to keep it water-free and averting structural problems, which can lower its value. Your contractor can install an interior drainage system and a sump pump, seal existing cracks, and install a dehumidifier to protect the basement. With water out of the picture, problems such as dampness, wood rot, and mold growth will be less likely to occur.
Would you like to waterproof your basement or fix other issues such as cracks? Be sure to request a free basement waterproofing inspection and repair quote from Complete Basement Systems today.