There is no such thing as an overly spacious home, and many couples, families and individuals who are designing and building a new custom home will try to eke out every last square foot of floor space from a limited plot of land. To that end, many custom home designs include a spacious basement, and these unique underground rooms can offer a number of advantages to the discerning homeowner.

However, there are also some distinct drawbacks associated with basement building, and a poorly planned basement can be more trouble than it's worth. Consequently, you should familiarise yourself with their pros and cons before incorporating a basement into your building plans.

What are the advantages of adding a basement to a custom home?

Extra space

The most important and obvious advantage of including a basement in your building plans is that they can significantly increase the overall floor space of your home. Depending on the ground your home is built on and the foundations that are used, a basement can be almost as spacious as the floors above, effectively creating an additional, subttereanean storey beneath your home that can be put to a wide variety of uses.

As you can imagine, the extra floor space provided by basements is particularly useful if the plot of land you are building on is limited in size. This makes basements particularly popular for custom homes built in urban and suburban locations, where more spacious plots of land can often be prohibitively expensive.

Energy efficiency

Because basement walls are completely surrounded by dense, insulating earth (unless your home is constructed on a particularly steep slope), they are very easy to heat and cool cheaply. Incorporating a basement into your new home can therefore be an effective cost-saving measure in the long run by lowering your heating and air conditioning bills, particularly if the basement is utilised as a commonly used room (such as a living room or master bedroom).

Increased property value

If you decide to sell your custom property somewhere down the line, an added basement can significantly raise its market value, often by considerably more than the cost to build the basement in the first place. This can backfire, however, if the basement costs too much to build due to ground conditions or other factors, so you should take care to discuss this point with your home designers before construction begins.

What about the disadvantages of adding a basement?

Not suitable for all plots of land

In many cases, including a basement in your new home is a practical impossibility for a number of reasons. Ground with a high water table will cause a basement to flood frequently, while expansive soils rich in clay can cause severe structural damage to basements during wet weather. They can be particularly difficult to construct in more urbanised areas due to the proliferation of underground water, gas and electricity lines.

Problems with damp and mould

Even if your basement is constructed in the driest soil imaginable, it will be relatively poorly ventilated compared to conventional rooms. If the basement is well-designed, this problem can be minimised, but in many cases poor ventilation causes a basement to become riddled with damp and mould. Mould problems can spread to other rooms if problems in your basement are left unchecked, so basements may not be advisable for homeowners with respiratory or immune system problems. 

Contact a custom home builder for additional advice.