Does Basement Space Make Sense for Your Home?October 24, 2016
VIC Underpinners specialize in the art of underpinning because we believe in fortifying the foundation of your home. When your home is on solid footing, it’s one less thing for you to worry about, so that you can focus on the more fun elements of design. You probably put a lot of thought into the design of your home. You need to take into account both form and function, and there are a lot of questions to answer. How many bedrooms will you need? Will you spend a lot of time hosting others? Will you need multipurpose space? What will you use it for?
Today, we focus on the multipurpose space, specifically your basement area. Sub-floor basements can service all kinds of purposes—everything from an in-house winery, to an entertainment area, to a study or work area for special projects. The sky is the limit, pun intended. Did you know that about one in five new home builders across the country are at least considering a sub-floor basement? Think that you or your family should be that one in five? Here are some constraints that you should keep in mind when making the decision.
The first factor plays into every building decision, and that’s your budget. Building sub-floor spaces can cost up to three times as much as above the ground construction. These costs will increase even further if you’re retrofitting an older home, rather than building a new structure. The costs fit into multiple buckets. The first bucket is all costs associated with building codes. We recommend that you avoid existing footings when you’re looking at basement construction. Underpinning can cost exponentially more if you don’t. Make sure that you have full architectural drawings and agreements in place before you move forward with any work.
The next factor is equally as important, and that’s determining what the purpose of the area will be for you. We recommend that you go into the design phase with a specific game plan, otherwise it’s more difficult to become passionate about the process or the end result. Building codes play into this part of the process as well. They ask for completely different costs and approvals based on whether the area needs to be habitable or not. Going into the design phase with a game plan will also ensure that all appropriate inclusions and effects are thoroughly thought through.
Finally, we strongly recommend that you put some thought around waterproofing. In our humble opinions, you can never have too much waterproofing in any area of your home, let alone your sub-basement area. It doesn’t matter what the area will be used for, you’re setting yourself up for success and preparing for the worst case scenarios. Fun tip? We recommend that you keep the earth battered in the opposite direction of the external walls of the basement, instead of retaining in the direction of it.
While there are many more tips that we can offer, hopefully this is a start to begin to determine if a basement area makes sense for you.