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What are the Best Tips for Building a Basement?

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  • Written By: M. Rosario
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Basements increase a house's market value and expand the available living space. Different types of basements can be constructed to suit a homeowner's needs. Before building a basement, several factors should be considered, such as the basement's main purpose, whether the basement will be added to an existing house or not, and construction costs.

Some basements are purposely built to be living spaces. In this case, it is important to finish a basement. Finishing a basement means putting amenities such as carpeting and furniture to make the basement more comfortable. A finished basement ceiling is relatively higher compared to other types of basements. Utilitarian basements, like those used as storage space and laundry rooms, can function without much finishing.

Costs for building a basement should be carefully calculated before construction starts. Integrating the basement with the house construction is normally cheaper than building a basement under an already built house. A more intricate basement layout is, on average, more expensive compared to a simpler one. Most contractors offer estimates to help determine the likely construction cost.

Adding a new basement to an existing house is possible but can be quite costly. This is because the house is usually lifted first before the ground is excavated. In some cases, the basement can be built on the ground adjacent to house to bypass the need for the house to be lifted.

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The type of floor can significantly factor on the lifting cost. A house with a slab foundation is generally more difficult to lift due to the increased chance of the foundation cracking. There are contractors that specialize in lifting specific foundation types, while some are focused on excavation and construction. Finding one that can do both can save construction cost and time.

The integrity of the foundation should be inspected before building a basement. It is advisable to consult with a contractor or a structural engineer to make sure that the basement foundation can support the new house or is compatible with the existing house's foundation. An experienced contractor will also have an idea which type of foundation is best for the basement.

Ground moisture can cause the soil to expand or contract. This is why the soil composition must be first examined to determine if the ground is suitable for building a basement. Floating walls can be installed to compensate if the ground level is prone to fluctuation. The ground can be compacted to prevent shifting in case the basement is going to be built on loose soil.

Water leakage is one of the primary concerns homeowners will face when building a basement. It is not uncommon for water to leak from the upper floor levels as a result of poor water proofing. Cracks in the basement walls can let in moisture. Excessive moisture can corrode paint, destroy wooden structures, and cause spalling — chipping and flaking. Moisture can also promote mold growth that can make the basement unsuitable for use as living space.

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