Basement Entry Designs

Basement Entry Designs

In a “look-out” basement, the basement walls extend sufficiently above ground level that some of the basement windows are above ground level. Where the site slopes gently and is insufficient for a walk-out basement, a look-out basement tends to result. Sometimes, a look-out basement is deliberately constructed even on a flat site. The advantage is that the basement windows are all above grade. The disadvantage is that the main floor entry is above grade as well, utilizing stairs to access the main floor. The raised Bungalow design (known as a split-entry home in much of the US) solves this by lowering the entry halfway between the main floor and basement to make a dramatic, high-ceiling foyer. It is a very economical design because the basement is shallower, and excavation costs are reduced.
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Basement Entry Designs

cretxbcqrwcrybebutyr The renovated entry to this circa 1815 townhouse located in Boston’s North End neighborhood sports new windows as well as an open stairwell. Light now floods into the once windowless basement. Architect Treffle LaFleche of LDa Archtiecture & Interiors designed the space to keep the raised main floor but provide elegant access to a usable basement with a mudroom and playroom.See the full article about this award-winning project. Peter Vanderwarker The existing entry had stairs leading to the main level. The basement space is below it. courtesy of LDa Architecture & I Peter Vanderwarker LaFleche cut back the main level to open the area that would lead to the basement. Light now floods into what was previously a windowless space. Peter Vanderwarker The existing basement was accessible from stairs in the center of the townhouse. The ceiling height was just 6 feet 8 inches. F.H. Perry Builder dug out the floor to add height. courtesy of LDa Architecture & I For the stair landing into the new basement, the clients saw an opportunity to create a railing that is a commissioned work of art. The stair granite matches the thresholds typical of the neighborhood’s historical entrances. The stair rail is by Wovensteel; the glass screen is from Bendheim, installed by Prestige Glass. Peter Vanderwarker The center island is topped in concrete and houses a refrigerator and freezer drawers, as well as plenty of storage. Behind the island is a durable stainless steel clean-up sink and rack with custom cabinets below. Peter Vanderwarker A folding side table adds extra island work space when it’s lifted. Hooks on the wall maximize storage. There’s even room for skis to rest, with a drain along the floor. Peter Vanderwarker Storage options include pullouts for shoes and a refrigerator drawer.See the full article about this award-winning project. Peter Vanderwarker
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Basement Entry Designs

A daylight basement or a walk-out basement is contained in a house situated on a slope, so that part of the floor is above ground, with a doorway to the outside. The part of the floor lower than the ground can be considered the true basement area. From the street, some daylight basement homes appear to be one storey. Others appear to be a conventional two storey home from the street (with the buried, or basement, portion in the back). Occupants can walk out at that point without having to use stairs. For example, if the ground slopes downwards towards the back of the house, the basement is at or above grade (ground level) at the back of the house. It is a modern design because of the added complexity of uneven foundations; where the basement is above grade, the foundation is deeper at that point and must still be below the frost line.
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Basement Entry Designs

Some designs elect to simply leave a crawl space under the house, rather than a full basement due to structural challenges. Most other designs justify further excavations to create a full-height basement, sufficient for another level of living space. Even so, basements in Canada and the northern United States were typically only 7 feet 10 inches (2.39 m) in height, rather than the standard full 8 feet (2.4 m) of the main floors. Older homes may have even lower basement heights as the basement walls were concrete block and thus, could be customized to any height. Modern builders offer higher basements as an option. The cost of the additional depth of excavation is usually quite expensive. Thus, houses almost certainly never have multi-storey basements though 9 feet (2.7 m) basements heights are a frequent choice among new home buyers. For large office or apartment buildings in prime locations, the cost of land may justify multi-storey basement parking garages.
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Basement Entry Designs

Even with functioning sump pumps or low water tables, basements may become wet after rainfall, due to improper drainage. The ground next to the basement must be graded such that water flows away from the basement wall. Downspouts from roof gutters should drain freely into the storm sewer or directed away from the house. Downspouts should not be connected to the foundation draintiles. If the draintiles become clogged by leaves or debris from the rain gutters, the roof water would cause basement flooding through the draintile. Damp-proofing or waterproofing materials are typically applied to outside of the basement wall. It is virtually impossible to make a concrete wall waterproof, over the long run, so drainage is the key. There are draining membranes that can be applied to the outside of the basement that create channels for water against the basement wall to flow to the foundation drains.
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Basement Entry Designs

Excavation using a backhoe or excavator is commonly used to dig a basement. If shelf rock is discovered, the need for blasting may be cost prohibitive. Basement walls may need to have the surrounding earth backfilled around them to return the soil to grade. A water stop, some gravel and a french drain may need to be used to prevent water from entering the basement at the bottom of the wall. Walls below grade may need to be sealed with an impervious coating (like tar) to prevent water seepage. A polyethylene of about 6 mil (visqueen) serves as a water barrier underneath the basement.
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Basement Entry Designs

The finished floor is typically raised off the concrete basement floor. In countries such as Canada, laminate flooring is an exception: It is typically separated from the concrete by only a thin foam underlay. Radiant heating systems may be embedded within the concrete floor. Even if unfinished and unoccupied, basements are heated in order to ensure relative warmth of the floor above, and to prevent water supply pipes, drains, etc. from freezing and bursting in winter. It is recommended that the basement walls be insulated to the frost line. In Canada, the walls of a finished basement are typically insulated to the floor with vapor barriers to prevent moisture transmission. However, a finished basement should avoid wood or wood-laminate flooring, and metal framing and other moisture resistant products should be used. Finished basements can be costly to maintain due to deterioration of waterproofing materials or lateral earth movement etc. Below-ground structures will never be as dry as one above ground, and measures must be taken to circulate air and dehumidify the area.
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Basement Entry Designs

In Canada, historically the basement area was excluded from advertised square footage of a house as it was not part of the living space. For example, a “2,000-square-foot bungalow” would, in reality, have 4,000 square feet (370 m2) of floor space. More recently, finished space has become increasingly acceptable as a measure which includes the developed basement areas of a home. Due to fire code requirements, most jurisdictions require an emergency egress (through either egress-style windows, or, in the case of a walk-out basement, a door) to include the basement square footage as living space.
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Daylight basement homes typically appraise higher than standard-basement homes, since they include more viable living spaces. In some parts of the US, however, the appraisal for daylight basement space is half that of ground and above ground level square footage. Designs accommodated include split-foyer and split-level homes. Garages on both levels are sometimes possible. As with any multilevel home, there are savings on roofing and foundations.
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Basements in small buildings such as single-family detached houses are rare in wet climates such as Great Britain and Ireland where flooding can be a problem, though they may be used on larger structures. However, basements are considered standard on all but the smallest new buildings in many places with temperate continental climates such as the American Midwest and the Canadian Prairies where a concrete foundation below the frost line is needed in any case, to prevent a building from shifting during the freeze-thaw cycle. Basements are much easier to construct in areas with relatively soft soils, and may be foregone in places where the soil is too compact for easy excavation. Their use may be restricted in earthquake zones, because of the possibility of the upper floors collapsing into the basement; on the other hand, they may be required in tornado-prone areas as a shelter against violent winds. Adding a basement can also reduce heating and cooling costs as it is a form of earth sheltering, and a way to reduce a building’s surface area-to-volume ratio. The housing density of an area may also influence whether or not a basement is considered necessary.

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