5 Ways to Make Sure a Basement is a Comfortable Living Space When Building a New Home

beautiful modern finished basement living space

Homeowners who have a basement would like to be able to use it without it being damp and cold.  Homeowners may want to use their basement as a second entertainment room or even a small studio apartment, instead of reserving it as a catch-all storage space. To make a basement a comfortable living area requires various safeguards to ensure the basement stays dry and comfortable. The builder must do certain things when the entire structure is being built, in order to protect the basement from moisture. Here are 5 methods to make sure a basement is a comfortable living space when you are building a new home.

1. Install a foundation drainage system.

A drainage system installed at the beginning of the building project is a critical step to make sure water and moisture do not get trapped around the foundation. By placing a drain pipe around the foundation, water drains to a lower level and can be connected to a sump. In addition, a dimpled membrane like DELTA-MS should be used in order to drain water away from the exterior walls of the basement and into the external drain pipe. Using a waterproofing membrane like DELTA-THENE, on the concrete foundation walls in conjunction with a drainage product like DELTA-DRAIN will provide maximum moisture protection for the basement and helps to create a dry and comfortable interior living space.

2. Install a proper draining system of waterspouts, gutters, and overhangs.

Keeping water from constantly falling around the foundation in a concentrated manner will help keep the basement dry. Wide roof eaves extend the coverage around the foundation and ensures that water moves away from the basement. In addition, gutters at the roof eaves with the proper amount of downspouts will help redistribute water to make sure it does not pool in the same place. The downspouts should also be extended and pointed away from the house, preferably directed in a sunny space or dry well so water cannot collect for long periods of time.

3. Adjust the grade.

The grade around your foundation should be sloping away from the basement, which will make sure that water runoff moves away from the house. A sloping grade between 2% to 6% allows for water to be carried away without jeopardizing the soil stability of the foundation. Fill that is hauled to the site should allow for easy soil drainage, which will also help keep the area around the foundation dry. Properly placed permeable surfaces, like pavers and gravel, can also help slow down the rate of collecting water and maintain a stable grade.

4. Install a swale or french drain.

If your home is situated downhill, water will easily find itself collecting at your foundation if it is not rerouted by a swale or french drain. A swale can complement the foundation by putting redirected water someone safe, away from the basement. A french drain is a more costly but extremely effective solution since it handles water on top and through the soil with its perforated piping system.

5. Reduce interior causes for moisture and moisture damage.

Proper ventilation is also a must, especially if the basement is used as a laundry room, includes a bathroom, or offers a kitchen for cooking. The moisture released by all these activities can contribute to the dampness of the basement. Before the entire building is finished, installing proper ventilation fans and sealing interior walls will help reduce interior condensation.

You should also install a high performance subfloor.  Without a professional grade sub-floor system like DELTA®-PROTEC, moisture vapor can seep through the concrete and cause damage to the laminate flooring.  This moisture vapor is also what commonly causes basements to be cold and damp, even if the first four steps are taken.  For a warm, dry and comfortable basement do not skip this important step by using an ordinary subfloor.

Overall, building a new home is the perfect opportunity to take preventative measures and ensure a dry, comfortable basement space. By taking the time to improve the foundation, grading, and more, you will avoid costly repairs later on and be able to enjoy a warm, dry and comfortable basement.


Dörken delivers innovative, high-performance air and moisture barriers for commercial and residential construction sold under the DELTA® brand name. A North American manufacturer based out of Beamsville, Ontario, Dörken Products, Inc. is a subsidiary of Ewald Dörken AG, a leading European developer and manufacturer of waterproofing and drainage products sold worldwide. Dörken is known for delivering premium products while providing educational programs and full technical support. For more information, call 1-888-4DELTA4 (433-5824) or visit www.dorken.com.