First and foremost, especially at this time of year, basements save lives. Why do so many people in Minnesota survive tornados as compared to other areas of the country? They go in the basement! Yes, debris and all may land in the basement and bury you but we are told from when we are young on to go in the basement and stay low under a table or something sturdy to weather out a tornado and it normally works! Experts say the number one spot to be is below ground and since most people do not have a tornado shelter, the basement is the next best thing. When those sirens sound, take your radio and flashlight and head to the basement.
So, your basement can be a lifesaver, but it is also a part of your home. Many people that come from other states can’t understand our obsession with living “underground”. When most people think of a basement, a dark and dingy, musty smelling, scary area pops into their heads – a place at most to use for storage or maybe to make a horror film. What kid is not scared to go into the basement alone? Here in Minnesota the basement is often just as important of an area as the main floor or upstairs – these days even the door to the basement has become extinct in many homes. Thanks to the heating, cooling and air exchanger advances the basement climate is no different than the rest of your home and the newer poured basements have little if any risk of water leakage. The majority of basements also have a sump pump which will pump out any water that may end up in your basement for any reason.
There are roughly 3 basic types of basements – the true basement with very small or no windows where all 4 walls are completely underground, the basement with daylight look out windows where at least a portion of one wall has regular windows, and the third would be the walk out where at least part of one wall is completely above ground thus allowing access to the yard. If you want to put a bedroom in the basement and do not have a window for it you can install an egress window which will give you a space to make a legal bedroom.
Finishing off your basement is big business here in the Northland. The majority of finished basements have some or all of the following: bedroom, bathroom, amusement room, wet bar and/or kitchenette and often a home theater or workout room. Once your basement is finished you will find that you will spend a big share of your time at home in the basement and even if you don’t, your kids will live down there! Trust me, once it is finished you do not even know that you are in the basement!
If you buy a home with an unfinished basement and you decide to finish it, make sure you get all the proper building permits. A finished basement will add to the total finished square feet in your home. If you choose to have someone do the work for you make sure you use a licensed contractor – there are more than enough around! Wendy’s Resource List on my website also has a list of contractors you can call.
Time to dust those cobwebs off your bad basement memories and start using it as part of your home!