Daylight Basement:
Ideas and Options

Daylight basements are spaces that are almost completely underground. There are typically only small windows near the top of the walls.

As discussed in the basement foundation options page, this area often houses the various systems such as electrical, plumbing, heat pump or furnace, and often laundry facilities.

daylight basement, new construction

Daylight Basement - New Construction

Pros and Cons

On the pro side, these basements may be cheaper to build than walkouts because less digging may be required.

There are often two modes of access: a flight of stairs to the outside, and one inside the home.

Since the space is insulated by the earth, the temperature tends to remain relatively cool and stable.

Problems may be easier to spot as opposed to a slab or crawl space foundation. On the con side, lighting issues need to be taken into consideration. Since the available light is somewhat filtered and focused near the top of the walls, you may want to spend extra funds to provide a sense of natural lighting there.

Many of us can probably recall a home where the basement was lit with a bare bulb and a string attached to a stark light fixture. Such lighting does not invite much lower-level living!

Also, since most of the basement is underground, excess humidity may be a concern. Be sure you consider how the walls will be waterproofed, and how the drainage system will be set up. Even so, you still may need to consider a dehumidifier in the space.

Daylight Basement Ideas

The sky is the limit may seem like an odd thing to say about a basement, but it holds much truth in this case.

Whatever you dream is pretty much possible in your basement. And since this square footage is considered by many to be the cheapest to build, you can get a lot of "bang for your buck" by extending your living space to the lower level.

Consider the following ideas:

daylight basement, finished basement family room

Daylight basement - finished family room

My experience with a daylight basement

My parents had a daylight basement in our home while I was growing up. Besides the housing of the typical systems mentioned above, they also kept the freezers there. A laundry chute dropped from the hallway and the bathroom right into the basement so clothing was easily maneuvered to the washer from the upper level.

On occasion, a teen child, desperately in need of privacy (there were 6 of us kids), would create some semblance of a room down there, with "privacy panels" constructed with sheets and perhaps a blanket over the look-out window. Our basement was unfinished, so it was typically pretty cold and damp down there.

My folks also had substantial cupboard space (painted white wooden boards that latched on the front with shallow wood shelves inside) to store glass jars of vegetables and fruits to feed our large brood.

In later years, after we were grown, a section of the basement was transformed into a piano studio. My folks had a piano store there, and my dad would practice for his concerts in that small room in the basement. Complete with track lighting, heat, and a humidifier, it made for a comfortable little musical space. These were the humble beginnings of my dad's professional recording career. (Please click here for more about these recordings - including a timeless Christmas album!)

My mom liked it because dad could easily keep up with the laundry while he was back and forth with his practice sessions!

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