3 Considerations When Designing The Basement Of A New Home

3 January 2017
 Categories: , Articles


When you are building a new home, you may be thinking about installing a basement. Focusing on the most important aspects of the design will ensure your basement will stand the test of time.


When you are thinking about the function for your basement, you should make a place of refuge your top priority. Regardless of the normal weather patterns for your area, you should integrate features that allow your basement to serve as a safe place for tornadoes, hurricanes, and/or strong thunderstorms. One of the main safeguards is to have your basement fully constructed from concrete. This building material not only serves as a way to resist damage from water and wind, but can also improve the insulation of your basement, especially if you have harsh winters.

You may not think about wind as a potential threat to your basement, especially if it is fully below ground, but if high winds from a tornado or hurricane were to destroy your home and the basement roof were not made of a durable material, the basement roof could be ripped off or similarly damaged. The basement should have fire and carbon monoxide detectors, even if it is not used as a living space. Since fires, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide poisoning are common threats after significant weather events, you should have devices in place to warn you of threats occurring in your basement.

Some basements are designed with a small portion above ground, which has some benefits. When you have a small window visible above ground, it allows you to see outside to determine if the danger has passed. The only downside to a slightly above ground basement window is you need to be cautious about the type of window installed. Ideally, the window should be large enough for you or other family members to fit through if there is an emergency. The window should be reinforced to prevent water leakage if flooding were to occur and resist breakage from debris or a storm surge.


Any basement is only as good as its drainage system. Drain tile is frequently used around the perimeter of the basement but can also be used under the basement's foundation. This helps prevent water from pooling around the basement walls, which can create unnecessary force, weakening the structure. If you live in an area that is especially damp, adding a layer of gravel underneath the basement before laying the foundation can improve drainage.

Since water can quickly accumulate around the basement, a pumping system can add peace of mind and longevity to your basement. Many automatic pumps are designed to start when the water reaches a predetermined level. An automatic pump is also ideal for flash floods or if you live in an area vulnerable to hurricanes. Since copious amounts of water may rush in quickly, the pump can mitigate some of the effects of flooding.

Moisture And Temperature

Basements are often easier to cool because the cooler air from the home sinks toward the basement. Additionally, since most basements do not experience direct sunlight, they stay cooler during the warmer months. Unfortunately, this means basements tend to feel damper. To offset this problem, you may need to install a dedicated dehumidifier in the basement. Not only will this make the basement more comfortable, but it can reduce issues with mold or damage to items you store in the basement. It is probably easier to heat the basement with your household HVAC system. If you are unsure whether your basement will be used for living space, simply create a separate zone for the basement. During the colder months, you may choose to use the heat sparingly in the basement to prevent pipes from freezing.

When designing a new home, adding a basement has many advantages. A well-constructed basement will give you added security during bad weather and serve as an extension of the living spaces in your home.