The man who discovered wine, says an old Italian proverb, must have gone to heaven, or is, at least, very close to heaven. Yet, it is the cellar to whom we should be grateful for the pleasure of enjoying great vintage wines even today. Due to the constant underground temperature, cellars are definitely a winemaker’s paradise for storing the noble liquid until it ripens and ages. But – not only wine is stored in cellars. Before the invention of electricity and, later, cooling machinery, people used cellars to store food and other fresh produce that otherwise was not available in wintertime and other cold periods. Surviving the winter depended on a good harvest and the possibility to store the produce. Is the cellar’s role still as important today? Does it still make sense to construct cellars?
With electricity, supermarkets and new inventions, the cellar’s storing importance quickly began to decline. In cities, space and its efficient utilization became the norm, as adding extensions or additional floors to a building, or even the purchase of a new property in the city, is significantly more difficult and linked with high investment cost.
Quickly, existing cellars were turned into new spaces and were utilized differently as they were fast being turned into residential space, to create additional living area. But in so doing, people were increasingly faced with a new problem, which turned the idea of efficient cellar utilization upside down.
In direct contact with the surrounding soil and exposed to moisture and mold formation, cellars – or basements – as residential spaces are hazardous to our health. The first necessity to ensure an acceptable standard of living in basements was in turning them into dry spaces. Thus, to prevent the penetration of moisture into the building, people began experimenting with vapor barriers, waterproofing and drainage systems. Simultaneously, an increased need for well thought-out and high-quality designs emerged into spotlight, significantly increasing the initial investment cost of basement renovation.
Here, you can learn more about the important points in basement construction or conversion.
Today, we can legitimately ask questions about the contemporary role of basements. On the one hand, the acquiring of additional residential space in existing buildings with basements seems justified. However, on the other hand, we cannot avoid examining which are the benefits in constructing new buildings with basements, and whether or not the cost of basement construction is, at all, sensible. Before we answer these questions, we must carefully debate four key points concerning the construction of the basement. Let’s see:
1. Do we need additional space underground
As already mentioned, constructing a basement is an excellent opportunity to increase the building’s residential space, especially if your surface area is limited and the historical protection authorities do not allow construction above a certain height. With a basement, additional residential space can be gained underground. A basement can become your office, playroom, cinema, fitness or all in one big space. Also, you may use it for utilities, as an HVAC room, a boiler room, or, if short of parking space in front of front of the building, you can also have an underground garage.
2. Using the underground soil’s onstant temperature for heating and cooling
As the basement’s temperature is not influenced by other external factors but the surrounding soil, the temperature conditions in the basement are always the same. This means that you may use it for storage of wine, tyres or other, temperature and light-sensitive products.
The basement’s constant air temperature can, with the help of air pumps, be exploited for summer cooling of overheated living rooms without the need for air conditioning. In winter, the warmer basement air can provide help in preheating your residential space.
3. Specific terrain and groundwater characteristics
Basements can not be built anywhere. Due to additional costs for terrain preparation, marshy or inclined places are unsuitable for the construction of basements. The same applies if the land on which you are planning your building has a high groundwater level. To avoid problems, it is better to construct buildings without a basement in such circumstances.
4. High cost performance
The biggest minus the construction of the basement is certainly a significant cost. Implementation of the basement requires further digging into the ground, needed a lot of concrete to form the walls of the basement, cellar, it is necessary then to additionally protect against moisture and water, especially if we want to live in it. This can greatly increase the cost of construction of the facility. In addition, the excavation of the basement necessarily have enough space, since it is necessary to protect the wall from the outside, so it must be a special cave larger than the final size of the basement.
The decision on the (non) implementation of the basement is so, except when due to soil this is not possible, to a large extent depends also on you. Whether you are an investment in the cellar paid, it is good to consider, before the implementation of the facility that will eventually become just too expensive warehouse discarded junk.