The Tiny house Blog

Do Cabins Have Basements? (Answered)

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
Unique styled cabin tiny home

Cabins, much like every other house, have foundations. The weight of these buildings rests on their foundations to prevent them from sinking into the ground

While conventional houses can be built with basements, it’s difficult to tell whether or not cabins can have basements. So do cabins have basements?

Depending on the type of foundation chosen, cabins can have basements. They are built with concrete blocks or poured concrete to create additional living space or storage in the cabin. A basement to your cabin increases its square footage and adds to its overall value. 

Knowing this before choosing a cabin design is crucial to determining how much you'll spend on your cabin and what foundation will be suitable.

Hence, this guide will discuss everything you need to know about cabin basements, especially if you can live in them. 

Can cabins have a basement? 

Cabins have many similar features to traditional houses. However, because they are typically smaller, you may wonder whether or not they can have a basement. 

Whether you want to make it a primary dwelling place or a vacation home, cabins can have a basement. Depending on the cabin foundation type you want, the cabin's basement can either be built fully or partially below the ground level.

Constructing a cabin foundation requires so much work and expertise. It also requires knowledge of building codes to ensure the foundation is solid enough to distribute the cabin's weight evenly. 

A cabin basement foundation has similar functions to a standard foundation without a basement. The difference between the two is that, while the walls of a basement foundation are submerged to make extra space, a traditional foundation doesn't have livable space under the first level. 

Furthermore, log cabin basements are rare, but they are a viable option to explore before building or purchasing yours. Even if you want a modular cabin, you can have a basement installed on the site before installing the log cabin itself. All you need to do is determine the basement's purpose and size. 

Determining your log cabin's size depends on some factors like the cabin's size, the land's shape, and the frost line regulations. 

With the help of a seasoned contractor, you can choose the desired size of your cabin basement as long as these factors, in addition to property lines, are considered. 

Cabin Tiny House
View the Rolling Cabin

What is the best foundation for a cabin basement? 

The quality of a foundation determines the stability, durability, and strength of a house. So to have a foundation that ticks these boxes for your cabin basement, you must select the best foundation. 

The raft foundation is the best foundation for a cabin basement. It's a foundation technique built with hardcore concrete materials that don't easily absorb water. It is strong enough to solidify the position of a cabin while protecting it from movements in the soil. 

With the raft foundation, you don't necessarily have to dig deep to make the concrete. Its concrete base offers the required strength and rigidity, allowing the basement to sit below ground level. It is faster to build and relatively cheaper than other types of foundations. 

The raft foundation is suitable for grounds with horrible conditions. It is constructed on a soft substrate to distribute the cabin's weight evenly. 

It is advisable to use blockwork instead of using formwork to achieve a sturdy foundation using this technique. With blockwork, you can acquire additional stiffness that a heavy cabin can rest on.

How much does it cost to build a cabin basement? 

A cabin basement adds to the overall cost of building a cabin. Considering that cabin basements are either half or full, the cost of making one can be calculated using the square footage.

Building a cabin basement costs $25 per square foot. The average amount you'll spend comes to about $18,000 because the average size of every basement is between 500 - 1,500 square feet.

Building a cabin basement is beyond simply laying a raft foundation and calling it a day. Depending on the space's function, you'll need a solid plan, while adding multiple features like electricity, heating and cooling, and waterproofing precautions, amongst many others. 

All these result in additional cost. But whatever amount it is at the end of the day, having a cabin basement, much like having a typical basement, adds value to your cabin. As long as it fits your budget, rest assured you'll get a great return on investment. 

Besides the ROI, constructing a cabin basement is a viable way to add space despite local zoning regulations. While you cannot expand out or upwards, cabin basements allow you to add functional space to your building. 

Pros and cons of having a cabin basement 

A cabin basement is an excellent addition to a cabin. However, as great as it is, it has some drawbacks. So you must weigh the pros against the cons to determine if you want it. 

Pros of having a cabin basement

Here are the advantages of having a basement in your cabin:

Extra living space 

Whether you want guests or extended family members in your cabin, cabin basements offer extra space to accommodate them. 

It is an additional bedroom apart from the regular ones within the cabin. Depending on your plan and your family's interests, a cabin basement could be a game room, theater room, or library.  

Additional storage space 

Basements have become increasingly popular because they serve as storage space. You can also convert yours into a pantry, allowing you to store cans of food and many other essential items. 

This creates more space for the cabin to take more furniture or other household appliances. If you have to host a couple of people in your cabin, you can make space by moving stuff to the basement.

Shelter in bad weather conditions 

When weather conditions become severe and unpleasant, the cabin basement is an excellent place to take cover. The fact that it's on a low level means there are little to no chances it'll have windows. 

By extension, this protects occupants from extreme temperatures and other severe weather conditions. They can stay there for as long as the extreme weather lasts before returning to the cabin's upper part. 

Smart utilization of land 

Cabin basement offers you a smart way to use land. Rather than using outdoor space that may be beyond your property line, you use the space below. 

Doing this means you get more space out of your land for your needs without extending into another person’s land. This is only possible with a basement attached to your log cabin.

They are multipurpose 

Cabin basements typically serve as storage, extra bathroom, or bedroom. The reality is that they have more dynamic functions, depending on how you decide to condition yours. 

They are multipurpose because they can be used as a recreation room, study, home office, laundry room, craft room, and fitness center, among many others. You can give the space more than one function. 

Cons of having a cabin basement

The drawbacks to having a cabin basement include:

Increased cost of building 

Attaching a basement to your cabin means you need extra materials apart from those used for the cabin itself. This automatically means you'll spend more money to set up the basement.  

You'll need to put certain features in place to make the space functional and liveable. They also add up to the general cost of getting log cabins.

Bad for earthquakes

The possibility of an earthquake makes the basement the most dangerous part of your cabin. It is safer to be at an upper level than on ground level when there’s an earthquake. 

While ducking under a table or desk and placing a pillow on your head can be helpful, there's still a chance you'll get injured in a cabin basement if an earthquake occurs. 

Moisture and humidity problems 

Basements typically have higher humidity levels than other parts of a building. This makes them prone to humidity problems like mold and mildew. 

The possibility of mold and mildew in your log cabin means occupants may become susceptible to health issues. 

Inconvenient access for furniture 

While a cabin can be aesthetically pleasing when well-furnished, taking in the furniture is a lot of work. The entrances are typically small without easy access compared to regular house entrances. 

You may need to consider the opinion of multiple contractors to provide extra space while adding easier access to the basement plan.

Unpalatable for elderly members of the family 

A cabin basement is unpalatable for older members of the family. They may find it challenging to go up and down the stairs.

They may even fall or hurt their knees while trying to journey through the space between the upper part of the cabin and the basement. If you have older folks and want a cabin basement, make it so the elderly in your family do not have to go there too often. 

Can you live in your cabin’s basement? 

You can live in your cabin's basement, provided you decorate it to become liveable. If you previously used the space for storage, the construction process of creating the design and ambiance you'll find most comfortable would require much effort. 

Doing this means the high ceiling is about 8-10 feets, and you’ll have to cover all wirings, pipes, and plumbing to enhance the room’s aesthetics. Since it’s below ground level, you will also need to add lighting to the room. 

As it's impossible to displace the significance of sunlight, you may need to create a window for natural light. This may not be easy because not all basements have windows.

Cold can also cause problems, especially during winter. Hence, it would be best to keep the basement warm by making provisions for good insulation. Once you can achieve this, the upper and the lower part of your cabin, regardless of the material it is made of, becomes very comfortable for its occupant. 

Flooring is also crucial for both the interior and exterior of the cabin. A very popular option is laminate flooring.

Takeaway: Build a beautiful cabin basement for multipurpose functions 

Cabin basement
View the Lakehouse Cabin in California

Cabins have basements, and you can build a beautiful one for multipurpose functions. All you need to do is find the best foundation using the best materials. Concrete block basement is the go-to option, and troweled finish is perfect for the blockwork.

However, even though building a cabin basement has several benefits, it also has its drawbacks. Evaluating both before building will be super helpful for you to make the right choice and decision for yourself. 

Tiny House can assist you in building a cabin basement that suits your multipurpose needs.

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