A basement is an excavated area underneath a dwelling. A full basement refers to a basement that has the same dimensions of width and length as the dwelling above it, while a partial basement is typically smaller. This type of basement usually refers to excavation that only extends to half the length or width of the above ground structure.
Some partial basements are entirely underground, while others are excavated as “daylight” basements. This is a popular type of basement excavation for home building because it allows for one or more sides of the basement to be partially or completely above ground. This type of basement can have windows to let in sunlight, and generally makes the basement area more adaptable. For instance, basements that are completely underground may not be as suitable for living areas or bedrooms, as most homeowners prefer windows in these types of spaces. A partial basement with windows, however, can often be converted into rooms that are indistinguishable from above-ground living areas.
Converting a partial basement into a living area may not be a viable option if the basement is not constructed of stone or concrete. Sometimes basements are earthen, which means the area beneath the structure has been excavated, but not enclosed or reinforced. This type of basement is the equivalent of a big dug out hole underneath the dwelling, and finishing this type of basement after the structure above it is already complete is usually a very costly undertaking.
Earthen partial basements are more often found in very old structures, before the use of poured concrete was common. This type of basement was often referred to as a root cellar. In those days, homeowners frequently used these areas as places to store their plants during winter months. In addition, the root cellar generally offered an ideal environment for the storage of vegetables such as potatoes, which require darkness for extended periods of storage.
Homes or other structures offering a full or partial basement are generally preferable for a variety of reasons. Not only can the basement be converted into living space, it can be also be used for storage or recreation. In addition, a basement can sometimes provide safety during severe storms. In areas where tornadoes are common, having a basement can sometimes be the difference between life and death. Basement excavation is an especially good idea for people planning to purchase a modular or mobile home, because they are not usually as structurally sound as other types of structures.