From a structural point of view, you might think that all basements are created equal. But the reality is that every basement has its own nuances, strengths, and weaknesses.
Whether you own a home with an existing basement, are in the market for a home that has one, or are hoping to build a new home that includes a basement, it’s essential to understand the relationship between the basement and other foundation issues.
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The Pros and Cons of Basements
It’s a fact: Basements are unique. Ask a group of people for their opinions about owning a home with a basement, and you’re sure to get an array of responses. This is because people tend to have their positive and negative experiences with these spaces.
Before we take a look at the basic types of basement construction and what you need to know about the differences between them, let’s briefly analyze the primary pros and cons of basements so you know what you’re getting into.
1. Basement Pros
Start with the positive aspects of having a basement. Practically speaking, a basement provides more living space and storage.
This allows you to maximize the square footage of your main living area and offers additional space that’s especially welcome for large families. When it comes time to put your home on the market, a basement will make your listing so much more attractive.
Other advantages include the ability to buy or build a larger home on a smaller footprint, safer rooms during tornadoes and other extreme weather, and cooler spaces during the summer months.
2. Basement Cons
There are also some negatives to basements. First, they’re more vulnerable to accumulating moisture and water damage. These can lead to increased indoor humidity and mildew growth in some cases.
If a basement goes largely unused, that means you’re essentially paying for wasted square footage. This is especially true for people who have challenges having to do with mobility and can’t get up and down stairs easily.
Four Major Types of Basement Construction
As the above indicates, there’s no guaranteed consensus on whether a basement in your home is necessarily a good or bad idea. Ultimately, you have to weigh the various advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of your needs and tastes, and make your own decision.
A builder, architect, or home inspector can tell you nearly everything you need to know about the home you’re planning to build or purchase, but it remains helpful to have a basic sense of the major types of basement construction.
Since water leaks and moisture can be one of the primary concerns when you’re considering a basement, here’s what you need to know:
1. Poured Concrete
Poured concrete basements are probably the most common type construction. People prefer this option because it’s sturdy and simple. As the name suggests, poured concrete basement construction begins with the pouring of a footing for the foundation.
Forms are used to hold the wall in place as they dry. This results in strong basement walls that don’t typically cause many problems.
When water leaks do occur in poured concrete walls, they generally develop along the joints between the walls and the floor. It’s also possible for cracks to form in the walls, and these may allow small amounts of water to seep into the basement over time.
2. Concrete Block
The least-expensive option for basement construction involves the use of concrete blocks or masonry. The walls are made of cinder blocks and can be constructed in a fraction of the time it takes to create a poured concrete wall. Steel rebar is generally used to reinforce the strength of these walls.
Concrete block walls tend to be more susceptible to water leaks. In addition to the potential for leaks along floor and wall joints, water can sometimes seep through the mortar that holds the individual blocks together.
The hollow nature of cinder blocks also means they can hold water for long periods of time after it gets in, even after the surrounding soil has dried.
3. Precast Panels
To save money and time on a construction site, builders of many newer residential structures will turn to precast foundation walls. These walls are fabricated elsewhere, then transported to the building site when they’re ready to be installed.
Precast panel walls are surprisingly strong, but they aren’t as common as poured concrete construction. Precast panels use a high-strength, low-water concrete mix, which makes them more water-resistant over the long run.
However, if water damage occurs, it generally appears along the joint between the walls and the floor.
4. Stone or Clay Tile Walls
If you’re buying an older or historic home, you may find that the basement foundation has been constructed with stone or clay tile walls. Such walls were fairly common in past decades, and were generally selected when other materials were not readily available.
They can be very strong, but are also tend to be more rudimentary in nature. The biggest potential risk with stone and clay tile basement foundations is ground water can seep through and into the basement fairly easily.
This is especially the case when it comes to stone walls that have many gaps and cracks. An interior perimeter drain system is usually necessary to address this issue.
Contact Edens Structural Solutions Today
At Edens Structural Solutions, we specialize in foundation repair services in and around northeast Oklahoma. Throughout our 30-plus years in business, we’ve made a commitment to dedicate our business to two things: intelligence and integrity.
Using these principles as our guiding forces, we’ve built a service that families can trust. When you choose Edens Structural Solutions to service your foundation problems, you can be assured that you’re getting an honest price, quality work, and a high level of integrity.
And since these qualities are not always readily available when homeowners search for them in the foundation repair industry, our loyal customers continue to send us their business year after year.
For more information regarding our foundation repair solutions, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We would be happy to set up a free evaluation and provide you with an estimate for your foundation needs!