Lisa Westerman's Blog
When you start designing a new home, you need to decide which type of foundation you want: crawlspace, basement or a slab foundation. All three have pros and cons that you need to consider. Basements in particular have many advantages, but some important disadvantages to consider. Here we will go over both the pros and cons to help you decide if a basement is right for you.
The biggest benefit of having a basement is the amount of extra space it adds to your home. Whether you want to build an in-law apartment, a game room, additional bedrooms, or make a home office in the basement, you have the space to do it. Another popular use for basement space is storage.
If you choose to build your house on a hill, the basement provides an opportunity for an additional door to the outside. Adding French doors or sliding doors from the main basement area, such as a game room or an office, gives you a view of the back of your property and allows you to step outside without going upstairs. Depending on the layout of your lot, could also use your basement as a garage space.
Basement walls are thick and insulated by the ground. It's easy to heat a basement, and since heat rises, you'll save on the energy needed to heat the first floor of your home.
Unlike a slab foundation, all the pipes you need are under the first floor. This makes it easy to access pipes and other utilities for maintenance, repair, or general upkeep.
It's easy to create an emergency shelter in your basement. Even without adding a reinforced roof between the top of the shelter and the floor joists for the first floor, a basement is the safest place during heavy storms.
You can even add a hidden safe in the basement. If you add another small room with access on the outside wall from inside the basement, and hide that access, you'll have a large safe that will be difficult to find. You can build a small room around a large safe or simply build a room with a locked door and keep a safe in the room.
There are two major cons to having a basement: the cost and the possibility of flooding. As for the cost, if you are building your dream house, you want to do it once and be done with it - without regrets. Basement cost is calculated by square foot, so it will depend both on the going rates in your area as well as the size of your house. It's also common for basements to increase mortgage payments, so make sure you confirm the possible ongoing costs of adding or including a basement.
The other downside to having a basement is the risk of water seepage and moisture. When you discuss your basement with a builder, make sure the builder uses the best basement waterproofing to mitigate excess water from seeping into your basement. If your home is on a slope, you can also install a French drain or other drainage several feet away from your home. The extra drainage will direct water away from a basement or crawlspace.
When building a home, take into consideration the benefits of a basement as well as the potential setbacks. In the end, only you can decide what's best for your home and your budget.