Basement construction - types of concrete basement - concrete network (2023)

Maximize the value of your home by adding a concrete basement or expanding an existing one

Installing a concrete basement in your brand new home or finishing off an existing basement is one of the best investments you can make. Basements provide inexpensive space for a variety of purposes, from a family room or entertainment center to an office or an extra bedroom. Concrete is the most popular material for building basements. It is also fast becoming the preferred option for finished flooring in basements due to its resistance to moisture and wide range of design options.


You can also add a basement to your new home in areas with high water tables, poor soil conditions, or on a sloping lot, provided you install waterproofing sheeting with the ability to bridge cracks. In some areas of the country where the soils are extremely poor, caissons (deep piers) are used to support the basement structure as well.

Find ready made basement contractors near me.


There are 3 basic types of basements:

Masonry basement

The basement walls are made of masonry blocks. There are many joints where the wall units are joined together. So make sure your basement is properly reinforced and the walls are waterproof (not moisture proof) to prevent water ingress.

To learnrepair cracked basement walls.

prefab basement

Poured concrete slabs are lifted into place with a crane.

Poured concrete wall basement

By far the most popular type of basement construction. Here are some of the advantages of poured concrete walls:

  • Strong concrete is better able to withstand collapses caused by lateral pressure from water, soil and wind.
  • Higher fire resistance - because solid concrete is tight and seamless.
  • More resistant to water as concrete has fewer and smaller voids than concrete blocks

Call your local building authority and ask them what type of basement construction they recommend and hear few or no complaints about.


The University of Minnesota has written an excellent paper entitled"Moisture in the basement: causes and solutions"This is well written, easy to understand and has excellent illustrations. It describes that the main causes of moisture problems in the basement are:

  • Insufficient sorting around the house
  • Broken or missing gutters and downspouts
  • Improperly designed window bays
  • Ineffective drain tile and sump pit
  • Improper drainage with channels under the slab
  • structural cracks

Basement construction - types of concrete basement - concrete network (2)

Solutions to moisture problems in the basement:

Rainwater or melted snow that isn't channeled away from the home is also a common cause of dampness in basements and crawl spaces. Read this article aboutDrying out a wet basementfrom This Old House to determine if your wet basement is being caused by condensation, runoff, or an underground water source.

The solution to any moisture problem should always be to eliminate the source of the moisture rather than trying to stop it at the last line of defense (the basement wall). It's appealing to try to solve a basement moisture problem with a membrane or special interior coating. In some cases this solution seems to work for a while; However, the water will still be there.


There are 2 types of moisture protection: waterproofing and waterproofing. When waterproofing a basement, a membrane is applied to the basement wall that can bridge cracks should they appear in the basement wall. If your site has a high water table or poor soil conditions, consider using a waterproofing system. If the soil drains well, many people still waterproof the basement walls to provide additional protection against water entering the basement.

Moisture barrier is a vapor barrier that delays water penetration. It will not bridge foundation shrinkage cracks or stop water under hydrostatic pressure.

Read more aboutWaterproofing of concrete foundations.

Full-size concrete shuffleboard, hand designed and etched into the concrete surface, with hand sander adds entertainment to this basement. Decorative concrete from Allstate in Cokato, MNRead more about this project.


Are you building a new house? Chances are you'll be living there for quite a while, and there will inevitably come a time when you wish you had more space. If you build your home on a crawl space, your only option later is an expensive addition, but if you plan ahead now, you can have quality living space right under your feet.

Smart new home builders offer flexibility in their home designs, allowing for creative use of living space on the lower levels to accommodate growing, changing families. A basement offers some of the most economical space in a new home construction today.

As you plan your home, talk to your builder about these basement design ideas so you can get the most out of your new home now and in the future:

Choose the basement entrance carefully

Basement stairs are often located in or near the kitchen and lead to the middle of the basement, reducing usable floor space. When positioning a basement staircase, consider how the basement might be used. If you plan to use the basement as an entertaining area, a staircase from the main entrance or living area provides easy access for guests. Placing a staircase along a basement wall opens up the basement for maximum floor plan possibilities.

stair design

The basement staircase can be as attractive as the main staircase of a two-story house. Consider hardwoods with decorative chips and posts for a rich traditional look, or incorporate wrought iron into your stair design to bring a bit of garden indoors. Finishing the walls of the basement staircase like the walls of the upper level helps add interest and appeal.

include windows

Sunlight can turn any room into a happy gathering place. Ample sunlight can also help a basement room look more natural. Consider adding daylight windows with window shafts that are the same size as above-ground windows.

lighting vary

Use lighting to highlight specific areas of your downstairs living area. Consider recessed stairwell lighting and recessed or track lighting to highlight personal gatherings or create cozy conversation areas.

Don't skimp on the finish

When choosing a finish for a portion of the basement, consider the type of activity that will be taking place in the space. For example, is the basement used as a bedroom, home cinema, gym, study or playroom?

Plan outlets and utilities

When designing a basement, consider the placement of outlets and switches, HVAC ducts, and the entrance to the utility room, and group the major electrical utilities (electrical, water, and mains sewer) in one area of ​​the basement. This area can be left as an unfinished space, hiding the utilities and giving you more design freedom in your basement living space.

Select ceiling height

Many basement designs now include 9 and 10 foot ceilings. Higher ceilings help open up the space and create a more appealing basement space.

Consider a fireplace

A fireplace not only provides light and heat, it can also serve as a focal point in a room. Consider installing a chimney at the time of construction, even if there are no immediate plans for a finished basement. The ability to have one installed in the future can be a major selling point when reselling a home.

Consider a walk-in basement

Walk-in basements are becoming increasingly popular in new homes today. Generally built on a sloping site that exposes the basement to the outdoors, a walk-in basement allows for maximum light and convenient access for indoor and outdoor entertaining. A walk-in basement can lead to a patio, patio, or deck that combines the two entertaining areas of a home.


When most people think of expanding their home, they think of adding to the existing structure. What many seem to forget is that their "grow", already 30% complete, is literally right under their nose in the basement.

Realtor surveys consistently show that finished basements are right behind kitchen renovations and bathroom renovations when it comes to homeowner repayments. The amortization of the cost of remodeling the basement ranges from 20% to 115%. However, remember that this means professionally finished basements. Unprofessionally finished basements are a minus. Potential buyers have consistently shown uninterested in undoing — or living with — the mistakes that are common among DIYers.

The conversion and expansion of a basement room offers several advantages:

  • Basements are naturally insulated by the earth, meaning they are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • If the home does not currently have room for a family room, study, guest room, etc., these can be inexpensively built in the basement.
  • Moving an existing family room, home entertainment center, home office, or children's playroom to the basement frees up additional space in the main living area, which can mean an expanded kitchen or bath, a larger master bedroom, or an additional guest bedroom or living room quarters.
  • By placing a home entertainment center, workout area, study, or other "activity" space in the basement, the rest of the home can be quieter. Conversely, a study, sauna or jacuzzi can be placed in the basement as a quiet retreat from other household activities.

Remodeling a basement to suit a specific need can also involve special considerations beyond what would be found in a "normal use" space type. Here are just a few examples:

Cellar house workshop

A basement workshop is ideal as it isolates the often noisy activity from the rest of the home. Here are a few things to plan for:

  • Soundproofing:This prevents the shop noise from permeating the rest of the house. Also, consider sealing common doors between the store and other parts of the home. This not only contributes to sound insulation, but also helps to prevent sawdust and other materials from entering the living quarters.
  • Sockets:Sufficient power for home workshops is always a concern. For those with many high-powered power tools, plan to add one or more circuits routed through a subpanel to keep circuit breakers nearby.
  • Dust collection system:This is essential for woodworkers. Complement this with plenty of window and/or fan ventilation to eliminate fumes such as those from paint or glue.
  • Lighting:Good lighting is essential for the cramped work often found in workshops. Evenly distributed fluorescent lamps with diffuser grids and bright ceilings and floors contribute to good lighting conditions. Provide adjustable work lights aimed at individual workstations and machines.

Laundry room in the concrete basement

The location of the laundry room in the basement is ideal as many of the necessary components such as hot and cold water and a drainage system are already present. This can also be a noisy activity that is best isolated from the rest of the home. Some points to consider:

  • floor drain:Protect against burst or leaking hoses to and from the washing machine with a floor drain to prevent flooding the entire basement. This drain must be connected to the home's drainage system. However, proper installation can be difficult and is best left to a licensed installer.
  • Large sink/bathtub:Consider emptying the washer into a large tub or sink with hot and cold faucets. The tub can be handy for soaking clothes, cleaning large items, or doing other household chores.
  • Water-resistant floor coverings:If the slab is smooth and free of cracks, paint the concrete slab with a durable paint or cover the floor with self-adhesive vinyl. See othersBasement floor options.

Media room in the concrete basement

The dark, theatre-like ambience of the typical basement can be expanded into an ideal media room. Some special considerations:

  • Soundproofing:Install soundproofing material like cork sheets over the walls or hang heavy drapes to achieve the same effect and add color. Insulate between floor joists with fiberglass mats and cover with drywall or hang an acoustic blanket. Get carpeted and furnish the room with heavy sofas, upholstered chairs and lots of pillows.
  • Lighting:Use indirect lighting (usually aimed at the walls or ceiling) for a soft, glare-free light. Install dimmer switches to further control the lighting.
  • Wiring:Plan component installation so that audio and video components can be easily accessed in their appropriate cabinets and appropriate cabling can be routed through walls, behind closets, etc.


It's important to know the right questions about basement finishing so you can get the job done the way you want. An experienced and reputable basement outfitter has the experience to identify and fix potential problems or obstacles that an inexperienced contractor either fails to recognize or fails to mention.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a basement removals contractor:

  • Do they have extensive experience in this area of ​​work? Basement construction shouldn't be just one item in a long list of things you "specialize" in.
  • Are you a Licensed, Bonded and Insured Contractor?
  • Do they have a list of current references that you can call and/or visit?
  • Will they listen to your vision of the finished basement and discuss feasibility or your idea?
  • Will they state the exact brand and quality of the cabinets, tiles, carpets, doors, etc. in their listing so you know what you are buying?

Last updated: August 9, 2018.

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