A Michigan basement is not a basement for entertaining. This kind of basement is a general term for an unfinished, often damp, "dug-out" basement with an earthen or cement floor. This type of basement is regarded as one step up from a crawl space. Common in older homes built with low foundations, a Michigan basement typically serves as a space for keeping the washer and dryer or for storing of non-perishable goods.
A Michigan basement typically has an earthen floor and low ceilings. According to the official State of Michigan website glossary, a Michigan basement is often constructed from a crawl space. The cement walls are usually set back 2 to 4 feet from the existing crawl space foundation walls. Because this type of basement is built into an in-ground foundation, space is usually limited, making it a difficult area to stand up in.
Michigan basements are often damp because of the earthen floors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns against increased radon levels in earthen basements like the Michigan basement. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water.
A Michigan basement can be transformed into a wine cellar if the homeowner does not mind the low ceilings and limited space. The Michigan basement would need to be humidified at all times to keep wine and other liquors at the right temperatures and humidity.
Because the basement is set in the earth, Michigan basements are prone to flooding. Homes may suffer flood damage from common rainstorms to torrential downpours. Flooding assistance, or help refinishing or waterproofing a Michigan basement, may be needed if the home is located in a flood plain. According to FEMA, purchasing sump pumps and battery backup sump pump systems helps keep water out of the basement in flooding season.
A crawl space transformed into a Michigan basement can become a place for install the home's electrical circuit box, water heater and furnace. The space can also act as a storage area for non-perishable canned goods or a makeshift laundry room with a washer and dryer.
Because air pressure in a home is typically lower than pressure in the soil around your home's foundation, the home can act like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings. The EPA recommends covering an earthen floor with a high-density plastic sheet in which in a vent-pipe and fan are used to draw the radon from under the sheet and blow it to the outdoors to rid the house of radon.
Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.