Do You Need a Basement in Your Next House?

Whether buying or building another house, deciding on the importance of a basement is an important consideration. Many people feel that a basement is an absolute necessity. Others see a basement as a major nuisance to be avoided whenever possible. Anyone who has lived with a basement knows that it can be a huge blessing or a major curse.

If a house is built where the water table is low and ground pressure is not a problem, a basement can be a good thing. However, there are few problems more frustrating than a leaky basement or one that develops large cracks. If building a house, you have to investigate whether the make up of your lot even makes sense to try to put in a basement. In some areas, installing a basement means blasting and drilling through a layer of solid rock. This can make the cost of a basement prohibitive.

After determining that a basement is feasible, the decision about whether to have a basement or not is largely one of needed space. If you are looking to buy a smaller house, a basement can supply potential extra living and storage space. Even if you do not choose to actually put living space in the basement, a basement can free up extra living space on the main floor by holding the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer. Even closet space can be redeemed if the basement is suitable for storage.

For most people, a basement provides a buffer. When things get too crowded in the house, the basement offers extra square feet for low-cost expansion. A dry basement can be easily converted into bedroom and family room space. If the plumbing has been installed correctly, at least one additional restroom can be placed in the basement. Even an unfinished basement can give added play space for children on those days when playing outside is not an option.

If you do a lot of entertaining, a basement can come in handy. If you do not finish it for guest space, you can at least throw all of the stuff that is cluttering your house down there until you have time to sort it out. A nice walk out basement can give you a really good place to blur the lines between inside and outside. You can entertain on a patio while still having easy access to your house in one direction and your yard in the other.

Cost can be another issue when deciding on a basement. A basement can add considerable cost to a house. While this is a cheap way to get floor space, it can be a budget breaker when house hunting. It is a lot cheaper to build a house on a slab or with a crawl space than to put in a basement. If you do not need the room, you can save some money. It also costs money to heat, cool, and maintain the basement. The higher sticker price of your house will translate into more taxes and insurance.

Another practical question to be resolved about having a basement is your physical condition. Can you navigate stairs? Do you have small children that may fall down those stairs? These and similar questions need to be addressed in deciding if a basement is right for your needs. Having extra space in a house can be a liability if it is not needed or used.

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