The Purpose of Basements

What is the purpose of a basement? Although there’s not necessarily a universally agreed-upon definition for a basement, it typically describes a structure underneath a home that’s at least eight feet tall.

Basements themselves have a rich history, and there’s something to be said for learning your piece of that history, especially if you have one yourself. 

When Were Basements Invented?

There’s no definitive answer on the origins of the basement, and that’s because the basement structure naturally grew out of early cellars. Because it’s underground, a basement tends to be naturally cooler than the above-ground structure. Underground cellars would store vegetables and other items that needed to be kept at lower temperatures.

When industrialization took hold in the United States in the 1950s, it became much easier to dig underground structures, making the basement a much more approachable concept. Many people started creating homes with basements, especially in areas that didn’t tend to have earthquakes or hurricanes and in areas prone to tornadoes.

Why Were Basements Invented? 

Originally, root cellars almost exclusively stored items that needed to be kept cooler before the invention of the refrigerator. However, the modern basement tends to have a more expansive purpose. The move toward a larger, more furnished basement probably speaks to its usage as an additional living and storage space.

People have many different intentions with their basements, which means most basements are constructed with a general purpose in mind. The initial construction may have been an upgrade to a root cellar. The concrete walls and floor can add to the insulation that already exists underground, making the basement a great place to store products or live.

Why Have a Basement At All?

Similar to how basements were invented for a wide variety of purposes, people use basements in many different ways as well. A basement is a useful place to live, work or store items, even today. Some people choose to have a fully furnished basement that functions as a bedroom, while some leave it mostly unfurnished and choose to look at it as more of an additional storage space.

Although basements do create potential problems with flooding, cracking and basement moisture, their extreme usefulness makes them a common home feature even today. Plus, they can be helpful for people who live in tornado-ridden areas, because a basement is much less likely than an above-ground home to experience damage due to a tornado.

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