A Guide to Protecting Foundations and Reputations

Understanding the Science of Building Below Grade


Building above grade is tough enough, but below grade? It is the most difficult space to get right. Not only does a basement hold the building up; it must keep groundwater, soil gas, and water vapor out, and keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Once moisture has seeped into the wall assembly, it becomes a challenge to treat the problem, making basements even more vulnerable to mold, since they are often already damp and humid.

Common Basement Problems:

  • Water leaks
  • Dampness
  • Rotting of building components
  • Elevated relative humidity
  • Poor air quality (bad smells)
  • Soil gas infiltration (e.g. radon, methane)
  • Low energy efficiency (thermal bridging or poor insulation of walls and floor)


Quality homebuilding begins and ends with applying the best products and building practices right from the start. Below-grade moisture management is your first step in making a lasting impression, keeping your reputation and your homes going strong. This is a job that should need to be done only once.

This guide will walk you through the science of building below grade, and help you build better basements while finding ways to correct existing moisture issues.

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