Most of the dugout style basements I come across have a perimeter type footing that holds the home up and an inside half wall that holds the dirt back in the basement. Much of the time the inside half wall is leaning inwards due to the pressure of the soil. On several occasions I have come across walls that have failed and the soil has partially covered the furnace and hot water tank. The key to keeping this type of basement sound is to keep the soil dry. This means the outside ground and the roof water must be directing water away from the home. If you allow the soil between the footing and the half wall or retaining wall to get wet you are causing extreme pressures on the retaining wall. Most of the time the perimeter footing is cracked and shifted meaning the soil under it has moved. In this case there is only one place for the soil and water to go, into the basement. Keep it dry, or risk the very structure of your home!