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View Poll Results: How many of you have a basement?
Yes 54 68.35%
No 25 31.65%
Voters: 79. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-30-2014, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Mid Atlantic USA
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In the rowhome world of Philadelphia I didn't know a single person that didn't have a basement in their home. Every single house has one in my neighborhood now. Very, very common in the city of Philadelphia. On the NJ shore, I don't think any homes have basements. In suburban Philly, they are very common.
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Old 12-30-2014, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
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^ I hear ya, I guess I meant resale, because it's a foregone conclusion that every house has a basement. It certainly costs more than a slab

Quote:
Originally Posted by canudigit View Post
I would also feel much safer in a basement in the event of a tornado than curled up in a closet or in our bathtub on the main floor of the house, or wherever it is they tell people to go who don't have basements.
Right, didn't even think about this. If you're in tornado alley in TX and a funnel cloud pops up on the horizon, then what? I don't have much experience with tornadoes, because you don't see many anywhere near the Lake Michigan shore in WI, but I do know a guy I work with who lives about an hour west of Milwaukee had one drop into his neighborhood a few years back. His house was fine (it even left his above-ground pool intact), but his neighbors survived in the basement while the house itself was ripped off and carried across the neighborhood.
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,651 posts, read 36,106,549 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheese plate View Post
For no more money, you gain 1,000-2,000 feet of square footage on top of what the rest of the house already boasts; you do not need to use any of your normal sq footage for storage. This is a decided advantage, and there is no way around it. Bonus square footage; for free; the end.

I have a wide flight of stairs (are you in your 80s?) leading to a basement with ceilings just as high as the rest of the house. The only difference between the basement and the rest of the house is the windows are long and wide and high up on the wall (because obviously windows to the dirt aren't very handy) and there is a walled room with the furnace (where's your furnace, next to the living room?). It's carpeted and used as a bar/lounge + extra bedroom. People love coming over for Packer games and hitting the bar

I swear, some people on here could make any logical disadvantage into a supposed advantage, no matter how completely ridiculous and transparent the point.
No, I'm not in my 80s. I just don't care for narrow stairs leading to a low ceilinged area with few if any windows. And I didn't care for it when I had it in my own house - at age 24.

Here's the deal - some areas' soil is not conducive to building basements, so homes don't have them. However, as luck would have it - many of these areas DO tend to have larger lots, so homes often don't "lose" any space by not having a basement. Can you understand that or do you have age related dementia?

In my current home, which is 2600 square feet of living space (without a basement), I also have a huge walk in attic as well as closets galore. In fact, I have so much storage space (and two living areas as well as two dining areas and two guest rooms) that I honestly do not need a basement - for storage or for living area. I live in a different TYPE of home - one that offers a different TYPE of storage space.

And actually my home is a bit below the average size of homes in Texas. The average home size in Houston is 2850 feet while the average square footage nationwide is about 2400.

You may find this FACT interesting - or maybe not, who knows. The South has fewer basements in general - because of the frost level and soil types. But hey, get this - the South is the region with the largest median home size! So - it all evens out. No need to worry about storage space for the average southerner -but thanks for caring.
NAHB: The Geography of Home Size and Occupancy

By the way, a finished basement DOES cost more money - to build, to heat and cool, and to furnish and maintain. And if you live in an area where the soil and frost line are not conducive to building a basement easily, it would cost a LOT more money. So it's easier and more practical, just as cost efficient, and just as convenient, to build UP or OUT in such areas. So that's what we do.

Last edited by KathrynAragon; 12-30-2014 at 09:05 AM..
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:05 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,651 posts, read 36,106,549 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheese plate View Post
Right, didn't even think about this. If you're in tornado alley in TX and a funnel cloud pops up on the horizon, then what? I don't have much experience with tornadoes, because you don't see many anywhere near the Lake Michigan shore in WI, but I do know a guy I work with who lives about an hour west of Milwaukee had one drop into his neighborhood a few years back. His house was fine (it even left his above-ground pool intact), but his neighbors survived in the basement while the house itself was ripped off and carried across the neighborhood.
As for worrying about tornadoes, let me put your mind at ease on that one too. I've lived in the south for most of my life, and in Tornado Alley for twenty five years of that time. And get this - we've had tornadoes around us occasionally. In fact, I've been in several tornadoes that have actually damaged the town I live in (though no one was ever hurt around here that I recall). When we have a tornado warning, I move myself and my dogs to a small, interior room. It's not that difficult.

The thing is, I know that people occasionally get hurt or killed in tornadoes, but my gosh, that's a rarity. It makes the news because it IS unusual news. Just as many people probably die on icy roads, or in flooding, or natural weather events that are more common in other areas.

In fact, in 2013 364 people in the US died from weather related events that had nothing to do with tornadoes - events that having or not having a basement wouldn't have impacted one way or the other. Fifty five people died in tornadoes.
NWS Weather Fatality, Injury and Damage Statistics

To put things in perspective, look at all those fatalities from icy roads - in all those states with basements! Oh my gosh, the dangers, the dangers...how can anyone even consider living with such risk every day? But at least they have basements...
Icy Road Fatality Statistics :: Road Icing Safety

In fact, click on that link above - it actually compares tornado deaths to icy road deaths. LOL
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:24 AM
 
11,171 posts, read 22,361,018 times
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Grew up in Iowa and live in Chicago. From my experience it's very unusual to go into a home that doesn't have a basement. I can only think of one person I knew in Iowa who didn't have a basement. It's actually a hilly state, I would say most of the basements ended up being walk-out basements, although there were still a lot that weren't.

I believe the main reasons basements are fairly normal in the Midwest and Northeast and more unusual in the south is because in the north you have to get down below the frost line to run all your pipes, etc. If you're already going down 4 feet to do so - it's normal that you would just dig the hole a bit larger and put in a whole extra floor to the house. Doesn't increase the cost much, but basements are very useful and great to have. Most people tended to have lots of storage in the basement, and then put in another more "cozy" living room or family room for the kids to play, to cuddle up to a fireplace, etc. Then as well when people's kids got into high school and wanted more room it was common to build out a bedroom in the basement and the kids would move down there. More freedom.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Pure Michigan!
4,342 posts, read 7,416,822 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheese plate View Post
^ I hear ya, I guess I meant resale, because it's a foregone conclusion that every house has a basement. It certainly costs more than a slab



Right, didn't even think about this. If you're in tornado alley in TX and a funnel cloud pops up on the horizon, then what? I don't have much experience with tornadoes, because you don't see many anywhere near the Lake Michigan shore in WI, but I do know a guy I work with who lives about an hour west of Milwaukee had one drop into his neighborhood a few years back. His house was fine (it even left his above-ground pool intact), but his neighbors survived in the basement while the house itself was ripped off and carried across the neighborhood.
We've had a couple of very destructive tornadoes blow through SE Michigan in the past five years or so, and the houses that were in their paths were blown completely off of their foundations with nothing but a pile of splinters left after the fact, which is why I feel much safer having a basement to go to if need be. You may still get hurt, but at least you won't be in the part of the house that is being blown off of its foundation and blown to smithereens, which would clearly be quite deadly.

I'm not quite sure how this thread turned into an argument for or against having a basement. To each their own. Some prefer having one and live in a part of the country where that is entirely possible and highly likely, and others prefer not having one and live in a part of the country where they are not common and having one is highly unlikely. Problem solved, right?
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,651 posts, read 36,106,549 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
Grew up in Iowa and live in Chicago. From my experience it's very unusual to go into a home that doesn't have a basement. I can only think of one person I knew in Iowa who didn't have a basement. It's actually a hilly state, I would say most of the basements ended up being walk-out basements, although there were still a lot that weren't.

I believe the main reasons basements are fairly normal in the Midwest and Northeast and more unusual in the south is because in the north you have to get down below the frost line to run all your pipes, etc. If you're already going down 4 feet to do so - it's normal that you would just dig the hole a bit larger and put in a whole extra floor to the house. Doesn't increase the cost much, but basements are very useful and great to have. Most people tended to have lots of storage in the basement, and then put in another more "cozy" living room or family room for the kids to play, to cuddle up to a fireplace, etc. Then as well when people's kids got into high school and wanted more room it was common to build out a bedroom in the basement and the kids would move down there. More freedom.
You're absolutely right about the frost line - and it also has to do with soil composition. For instance, clay soil really complicates building a basement so where clay soils are common, basements are uncommon.

I am sure that basements can be great (and they can also suck but then so can just about any feature of a house, depending on quality of construction, lighting, decorating, moisture, etc).

I have some friends who live in Missouri and they have an AWESOME basement. I love it! It's a whole guest suite. But my daughter lived in CO and her basement was horrible - it was way too damp and cold and dark (with low ceilings) to enjoy and so it was relegated to storage and everyone hated going down there to get anything. Just about like people hate to go up into a hot attic to get anything around here - LOL! But then...we often have walk in attics that aren't so bad and offer tons of storage. In fact, just as some people finish out their basements, we have considered finishing out our attic - it would make a cool media room. But I think I prefer using it for storage.

People in areas that aren't conducive to basements have and use other options that are just as functional in their situation. I don't dislike a nice basement but it does irk me when some people insist that homes without one are somehow inferior simply because they don't have a basement. Some are, some aren't. Some basements are great, some are terrible. Some homes have plenty of storage without a basement and some homes with basements are still short on usable space. Some basements really add to the value of a home and some don't. There's no universal rule or application.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
3,451 posts, read 3,394,206 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canudigit View Post
We've had a couple of very destructive tornadoes blow through SE Michigan in the past five years or so, and the houses that were in their paths were blown completely off of their foundations with nothing but a pile of splinters left after the fact, which is why I feel much safer having a basement to go to if need be. You may still get hurt, but at least you won't be in the part of the house that is being blown off of its foundation and blown to smithereens, which would clearly be quite deadly.

I'm not quite sure how this thread turned into an argument for or against having a basement. To each their own. Some prefer having one and live in a part of the country where that is entirely possible and highly likely, and others prefer not having one and live in a part of the country where they are not common and having one is highly unlikely. Problem solved, right?
Well, given the choice, there's no reason to prefer not having a basement. It's ludicrous. Another benefit of a basement is it can help moderate the house during extreme temperatures. When it's in the 90s, your basement is much cooler; when it's below freezing, your basement retains heat. There are numerous benefits of having a basement, but really no one should have to go beyond "it's a lot of extra home space that's simply included in the price in regions where basements are common." SOLD!
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,651 posts, read 36,106,549 times
Reputation: 63178
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheese plate View Post
Well, given the choice, there's no reason to prefer not having a basement. It's ludicrous. Another benefit of a basement is it can help moderate the house during extreme temperatures. When it's in the 90s, your basement is much cooler; when it's below freezing, your basement retains heat. There are numerous benefits of having a basement, but really no one should have to go beyond "it's a lot of extra home space that's simply included in the price in regions where basements are common." SOLD!

Not all "home space" is equal. Some basements are great, others aren't so great. Some basements are spacious and have some windows and are well ventilated, and others aren't. Some are dark and damp and spidery and disgusting and some are beautiful. But one thing that none of them are is "free." They do cost something to build, and they cost money to finish out, and they cost money to maintain and furnish.

I understand the appeal to SOME basements, especially in a home that's got a smaller footprint and limited storage options on the main floor(s). But each situation is different. Not every home NEEDS a basement and not every home's basement increases it's value.

For instance, when I lived in a home with a basement, personally I didn't like it. There was no other place for the washer and dryer so I had to lug laundry baskets up and down a very narrow set of stairs, down to a damp, windowless area that I couldn't use for storage because things tended to mildew down there. Blech. But then I visit my friends in Missouri and they have a beautiful, light, bright, dry basement and it's lovely.

Both my daughters have also lived in houses with basements (CO and VA) and both their basements were very dark and damp and unusable for anything but limited storage (and the cat's litter box - woohoo!). And their homes had no real usable attic space so they HAD to use these dark musty areas for storage. I mean, it beat a sharp stick to the eye but neither basement added much, if any, value to the houses.

It all depends on the finished product - which sure as heck better add value, since it certainly adds cost.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
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Even a dark, damp basement is a bonus, and yes - when a basement is expected, it's included in housing costs across the board.

Throw a dehumidifier in the basement and use it for storage. There isn't a basement in the world without utility.
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