Homes with Full Basements

Homes with full basements can be a great selling point to raise a home's value. A full basement runs the length of the first floor of the house and has standard ceiling height. Full finished basements can be treated as another story in the house with all sorts of uses.

Full basements are almost always built when the home is constructed. Retrofitting a full basement is an enormous engineering undertaking and very expensive. The original builders sometimes intend for the basement to be a living space and finish it much like the home's interior. In other cases, the basement was meant for utilitarian purposes and remains unfinished with exposed beams, insulation and pipes.

Homeowners who choose to leave a full basement unfinished can still use the extra space and should make sure it is covered by their unemployment home owners insurance. Though they are not aesthetically pleasing, unfinished basements are functional as laundry rooms, work rooms, home gyms and storage space. They are not often heated and cooled by the central units, so they may be uncomfortable for parts of the year in extreme climates.

Homeowners who buy a home with a finished basement can use the extra space just as they would any room in the house. Make a spare bedroom, a teenager suite, home office, home theater or any number of creative uses. Homeowners can also finish an unfinished basement. Installing drywall, flooring, air conditioning and heating is a costly task, but it can enhance your home and raise your market value.

Problems with Full Basements

Full basements are great expansions on a home, but they experience some problems that above-ground structures do not. The most common problem is flooding. When the ground is saturated, drainage systems can fail and moisture can seep in through any opening, including tiny cracks in the walls.

A failed weeping tile is a common cause of flooding. A weeping tile is a pipe used for underground drainage. Water in the soil surrounding the basement's foundation flows into the weeping tile, and then drains into a storm sewer or sump pump. A blocked weeping tile can prevent drainage, allowing water to accumulate at the foundation and make its way inside.

A failed sump pump is another common problem. Water accumulates in a sump pit at the lowest part of the basement. The sump pump removes the excess water and sends it to a storm drain where it cannot threaten the basement structure. A failed sump pump allows the sump pit to fill up so the water penetrates the basement.

Frequent flooding can destroy your belongings, harm your health and depreciate your home value. It is important to have drainage systems inspected regularly to detect any potential problems before they arise. A contractor might suggest replacing the drainage system parts or making other changes to the property to prevent leakage.

One remedy is grading the lot. If the land around the house slopes down toward it, runoff rushes toward the structure and can overload the drainage. Grading fills in the land around the house so it slopes downward, away from the house.

Eaves-troughs and downspouts drain water from the roof to the ground, but dumping rainwater right at the foundation can overload the weeping tile. Adjusting the downspouts to dump water at least 6 ft. from the basement wall will prevent flooding. Make sure the water drains to a the street or other receptacle and not your neighbor's basement.

Investing in flood insurance is a precaution that could save you from paying for costly repairs. In low-lying areas with heavy precipitation, homeowners must protect their underground structures. Contact an insurance agent about programs to insure homes with full basements.

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