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Waterproofing the basement

Properly-designed waterproofing is a vital part of any basement project. Chris Bates takes an in-depth look at the systems we’ve used for Build It’s Self Build Education House

Part 5

ICF Contractors break out the formwork for the perimeter drainage channels in the floor slab, which are a core part of our waterproofing solution

One of the things about digging a giant hole in the ground, especially in the British rainy season (ie any time of year), is that you regularly get to see it fill up with water. At one point, just before the basement walls were concreted on the Build It Education House, it crossed my mind whether I could get the planning permission changed to include a moat. Unfortunately, I think it might fall outside of the build zone on our Graven Hill plot!

There’s a serious point to my rambling: whenever you’re building underground, you need to think about how to deal with water. While it might look like our insulating concrete formwork (ICF) walls are pretty good at keeping a bit of rain out on their own, there’s a whole host of ways water can get into a basement. For instance, our clay soil will hold a lot of moisture, which means groundwater will exert hydrostatic pressure on the walls. The design and construction needs to account for this and prevent it seeping into the living spaces.

Design basics

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About Build It

Build It is Britain’s longest running self build magazine. Each issue is packed full of inspirational and informative readers’ homes, as well as expert advice on issues from budgets and planning to project management and design. This month: - Smart homes for every budget - Timber frame FAQ - Choosing outbuildings - How to maximise your mortgage chances - Guide to finding land