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What Is a Basement?: A Complete Guide

view inside a basement

Homeowners and the construction world have a long-standing love-hate relationship with basements. Although basements can be expensive to construct, they serve many purposes, from storage space and laundry to living and entertaining areas.

The Census Bureau estimates that 42 million homeowners across the country have basements. While basements may not be as popular or common in southern states like North Carolina, they do exist in some homes in the area.

Here, we explore everything there is to know about basements, from different types to their pros and cons.

What Is a Basement? 

A basement is an area beneath your house that is partially or entirely beneath ground level. It is rare in coastal areas, but more common in inland regions of the state.

Its initial purpose was to store goods like food, wine, and water. However, its naturally damp conditions create the perfect place for mold and pests to thrive, as well as other problems like leaks and flooding.

These issues can be avoided with the right basement waterproofing solutions, creating a comfortable and clean place for all sorts of different needs.

Basement Construction 101

4 Common Basement Types

Not all basements follow the same below-grade construction. Here are the four most common types of basements:

1. Cellars

Sitting beneath a small portion of a home, homeowners use cellars mainly for storing food and drinks (wine, craft beer, and water). They have plenty of standing room, which allows you to bring down food and beverages with little to no fuss. Their height also gives you an option to renovate them into additional space. 

diagram of a basement

2. Daylight

Daylight types are half under and half above the ground level. The part that’s above usually has windows that allow sunlight to come inside. These can span across your home, doubling your living space. 

3. Walkout

Traditional basements have stairs that lead you into the rest of the building. However, walkout types have doors that allow you to exit directly into your yard. They can be partially underground which means that homeowners will use stairs to reach the ground level. Also, they usually have windows that you can open and close freely. This also makes them suitable for renovating into a living space. 

4. Subbasement

Underneath daylight and walkout basements, some homes can have a subbasement level. These floors are completely underground with no doors or windows looking outside. Hence, homeowners enter them via a staircase. 

3 Ways to Build a Basement 

Just like other parts of your home, you can build a basement from different materials. These are the three most common design types. 

1. Concrete Block Walls

Many homes have basements with concrete block walls. These types have numerous joints where the blocks intertwine, which makes them sensitive to water leakage. However, you can fix this problem with professional help. Repair crews install waterproofing along your block walls, preventing any further water-related damage. 

2. Precast Panels

Budget-friendly, precast panel basements are a perfect choice for homeowners looking to save their money on other construction elements. Builders construct them off-site and lift them into place using a crane. They usually come in the form of high-strength, low-water concrete that helps prevent water damage. 

3. Poured Concrete Walls

Poured concrete walls are one of the most popular choices in the U.S. Builders pour concrete into wooden forms and let it cure. The advantage of such walls is that they don’t have any joints that can let water in. They’re also fire-resistant, strong, and reliable, supporting heavier walls above them. 

The Pros and Cons of Having a Basement 

There’s a lot to love about basements, but they are not without their problems. 


  • Additional, easily convertible space
  • Higher retail value
  • Seasonal comfort and safe rooms


  • Initial construction cost
  • Dampness and moisture issues
  • Flooding threat

Waterproofing Your Basement 

Basements can be difficult to keep in perfect condition, as they are prone to various issues like flooding, mold, and mildew. However, with professional water management tools, your basement is restored to its glory.

Basement waterproofing experts like Tar Heel Basement Systems ensure your home’s comfort and safety with various solutions, including:

Trust Your Basement’s Protection to Tar Heel!

A basement can be a challenging area to care for. If you notice problems in your basement, the expert team at Tar Heel Basement Systems has you covered. Don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free inspection and repair quote. After one of our inspectors evaluates your home and basement, they’ll recommend customized solutions that help repair and protect your basement and make your home safe for years to come. 

Basement FAQs

Investing in basement waterproofing is a valuable decision. When your basement is secure, it preserves your home’s structural integrity and adds value, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

DIY basement waterproofing is not recommended. While sealing basement walls might provide a temporary solution, it doesn’t tackle the underlying issue. Contact a professional who can identify the source of moisture and propose a comprehensive waterproofing approach.

Waterproofing a basement doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Common applications include interior drainage, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers. In more severe cases, addressing bowing walls and sinking floors may require replacing joists and beams.

Related Resources

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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Fayetteville, NC 28311

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Greensboro, NC 27405

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