I've lived in Maine all my life, and every single home I've lived in has always had a basement. It's standard stuff for homes in New England and other cold regions in the United States. But with the problems you could have with a basement, like flooding, is a basement really necessary for homes in New England?

According to Maine Homes, the answer is no, but it goes a little deeper than just a simple no.

Your home's basement is part of your foundation, which supports your house. Because of our cold climate here in New England, foundations need to go four feet underground to get below frost depth. Frost in the ground can cause heaving of your foundation, which in turn lifts your home up. That's not good.

Yellow New England Style colonial house

According to Wikipedia, homes with basements started gaining popularity around the 1950s. Find yourself a house built in 1950, and you'd just find a foundation with a four-foot crawl space. A basement lent itself to many uses, including storage, a place for your washer and dryer, and your furnace, water heater, and heating oil tank. Many people finish their basements to use them as more living space.


Maine Homes says that if you're willing to find alternatives to what you would normally build a basement for, you can use a concrete slab instead. As they point out, you won't find a basement in large commercial spaces like a grocery store, and they get along just fine. They note that a frost-protected slab will do the job, and costs a lot less to build than a basement.

So the answer again is no. You don't need a basement, but most people reading this already have one.  A slab is something to consider if at some point you plan to build your own house, and you won't have to worry about water in your basement like I have during our heavy rain storms.

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