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Old 04-03-2018, 02:10 PM
 
Location: SoCal, but itching to relocate
228 posts, read 136,237 times
Reputation: 204

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I have it in my head that a basement is a requirement of mine when searching for a single family home in the Indy suburbs. It doesn't have to be finished, but the ceilings have to be standard height (or higher) and it has to have at least one egress window. My notion is that a basement is "required" as a safety feature in case of tornadoes.

In my on-line research from out of state, I notice that homes without basements (built on slabs) command a much lower price than homes with basements, even if overall finished living space is about the same on a per square foot basis.

I've also read at least a couple of times on city-data warnings about basements flooding, and I see "sump pump" as a feature listed on many/most homes with basements on real estate listings.

So, my questions are: How necessary is a basement as a tornado shelter/safety feature? How necessary is a basement for resale (value and/or time on market)? How common is basement flooding, and should a basement be finished with materials (flooring, in particular) with the idea that a flood of some sort is inevitable? Is there a greater chance of flooding with a block basement vs. poured concrete? Are newer builds less likely to flood than older homes...meaning, they're constructed with the idea that people now use their basements as finished living spaces more so than for storage?
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Old 04-03-2018, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
686 posts, read 349,583 times
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As I understand it, slab floors can make it hard to repair or remodel plumbing. And yes, they make it impossible to seek shelter in a basement.

I like to sleep in the basement in the summer to save on my utility bill--it doesn't cool off much at night here.

I've had people tell me I have the driest basement they've ever seen in Indiana. Even so, what little furniture I have there is metal or plastic, just in case it floods. If I wanted to spruce up the walls or floor, I'd look into paint or outdoor rugs. I'd avoid materials subject to water damage or mold. (See industrial bohemian.) Speaking of which, the basement should have a dehumidifier.

I don't know whether materials or old or new construction make a difference, but you can help yourself by avoiding flood plains, avoiding houses in bottoms, keeping your gutters fixed, and making the soil or concrete around your house so that it has positive drainage (away from the house). If it's soil, get some top soil, build it up towards the house (make a strip a few feet wide), then plant grass or whatever there to hold the soil.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Bloomington IN
5,862 posts, read 7,085,877 times
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I don't think new builds are less likely to flood than older places provided they have been maintained, use gutters, and have a correct slope away from the house. An exterior, buried drain system is also helpful.

My basement does not have a dehumidifier, is finished as nicely as the rest of the house and has never flooded. We also don't have a sump pump. We have an exterior perimeter drain system that takes water about 30 feet or more away from the house. Because of the slope of our land, that was the best option when we built.

I'd personally never live in a house again that didn't have a basement because of the extra space it offers and the safe space in a tornado. I was down there today actually because of storms.

Poured concrete is better at keeping water out and is stronger when there is pressure against the foundation. Many houses use concrete blocks because it's cheaper.

As for resale--it's going to depend on the neighborhood and the price point.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Not the end of the Earth, but I can see it from here
3,109 posts, read 3,248,380 times
Reputation: 2991
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmerLernen View Post
I have it in my head that a basement is a requirement of mine when searching for a single family home in the Indy suburbs. It doesn't have to be finished, but the ceilings have to be standard height (or higher) and it has to have at least one egress window. My notion is that a basement is "required" as a safety feature in case of tornadoes.

In my on-line research from out of state, I notice that homes without basements (built on slabs) command a much lower price than homes with basements, even if overall finished living space is about the same on a per square foot basis.

I've also read at least a couple of times on city-data warnings about basements flooding, and I see "sump pump" as a feature listed on many/most homes with basements on real estate listings.

So, my questions are: How necessary is a basement as a tornado shelter/safety feature? How necessary is a basement for resale (value and/or time on market)? How common is basement flooding, and should a basement be finished with materials (flooring, in particular) with the idea that a flood of some sort is inevitable? Is there a greater chance of flooding with a block basement vs. poured concrete? Are newer builds less likely to flood than older homes...meaning, they're constructed with the idea that people now use their basements as finished living spaces more so than for storage?
A basement is the only shelter that leaves you relatively safe in the event of a tornado. That's not to say you're completely safe in a basement, as the structure above could be damaged and injure people sheltering in the basement, but you're far safer in a basement that a wooden structure above grade under those circumstances.

Block or poured, either can develop leaks. What is critical is the grading around the house and how the gutters and downspouts are arranged. With a sump it would be expected that there is a "french drain" or corrugated piping around the perimeter of the basement - this is where the sump collects water before it can come into contact with the foundation.

Age has little to do with whether or not a basement will flood. It's all about water table and the previous comment about downspouts and grading. Keep water away from the foundation and it's far less likely to end up in or around the basement.

A flooded basement is not inevitable. A properly designed sump pump should be able to keep it dry under the worst circumstances. One thing I would recommend is a battery back up sump pump as a precaution, since power going out directly affects the sump pump's ability to work. Either that or an emergency generator.

I owned a home that had a poured basement that was completely below grade and had two sump pumps due to a fairly high water table. In the dryer parts of the year the pumps rarely operated, but in the spring and summer when there could be substantial rainfall they would run quite often. I had both a battery backup and a whole house emergency generator. My basement was finished and provided a significant amount of living space.

Some other observations:

A basement with a "high ceiling" (often referred to as a 13 course (block) basement) will only be in newer homes as far as I know. If the basement is designed as a living space when the home is constructed I believe a means of egress must be in place per code - definitely if there is a bedroom in the space. If it's not designed as a living space this is not a requirement. That can be a giveaway if the owner has finished the basement after the fact, and done so on their own or without a contractor who would be responsible for compliance with life safety codes.

RM
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Old 04-03-2018, 08:03 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
686 posts, read 349,583 times
Reputation: 1588
Holes in the ground collect water. Everything in my parents' basement was ruined when a sewer line broke. A friend's basement was flooded when the sprinkler system malfunctioned. A lot of other people in the Denver area had damage to their basements after an especially wet winter in 2014, if memory serves. I can see the walls of my basement here were repaired at some point.

My house has drains from the roof going underground out to the street, but the handyman who fixed the gutters said that wasn't allowed here on new construction. Indianapolis has inadequate storm drainage as it is.

One option in Indianapolis is a rain garden. It has to be a certain size with respect to your hard surfaces, be a certain depth, and the water should drain into after a rain. You can get a credit on your sewer bill if it's properly done.
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:33 AM
 
Location: SoCal, but itching to relocate
228 posts, read 136,237 times
Reputation: 204
Default Seems I have a lot to learn

Thank you all for your responses...very valuable info! Seems I have a lot to learn about all these new terms/ideas. I'm from Southern California where none of these basement-related concerns are ever on anyone's radar.

If you don't mind my asking for more details...

When shopping for a home, what are some things to look for and have inspected closely as concerns these basement and water issues...and smart questions to ask?
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Bloomington IN
5,862 posts, read 7,085,877 times
Reputation: 14073
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmerLernen View Post
Thank you all for your responses...very valuable info! Seems I have a lot to learn about all these new terms/ideas. I'm from Southern California where none of these basement-related concerns are ever on anyone's radar.

If you don't mind my asking for more details...

When shopping for a home, what are some things to look for and have inspected closely as concerns these basement and water issues...and smart questions to ask?
Smell. I'm not joking. A wet or damp basement will have a damp, mildew type odor.

Look for some type of drain system around the interior edge of the basement. The presence of one MIGHT indicate previous problems that had to be fixed from inside the house. (although some might install it during construction).

Some cracks in walls are "normal." Some are not. When you find a house you like, I assume you will have it professionally inspected. Leave it to the inspector.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:50 AM
 
Location: SoCal, but itching to relocate
228 posts, read 136,237 times
Reputation: 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by rrah View Post
Smell. I'm not joking.

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I assume you will have it professionally inspected. Leave it to the inspector.
Oh, yes...any house we'd consider will have to pass my sensitive smell test! And *absolutely* we will have a professional inspection.
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Central Indiana/Indy metro area
1,416 posts, read 2,169,888 times
Reputation: 1295
Basements aren't necessary for tornado safety mostly because there are much cheaper options available. For one, the garage floor shelters are pretty popular. A company comes in, cuts a rectangle in the floor, they drop a shelter with a door. Additionally, there are safe rooms that can be placed in garages that can withstand high winds. A good one will be anchored into the garage floor.

People like basements though because they are added space and make it easier to work on plumbing/HVAC issues. Walk-out basements are very popular and lots that can allow for walk-out basements come with a premium price. Basement flooding will depend on many factors. The first is the water table of the lot. Another would be the soil make-up of the lot. Plus construction around the lot can cause issues. A relative's basement flooded for the first time in two or three years but they were building homes right next to their home at the time. Also, gutters will be an issue. They need to be drained at least ten feet from the foundation (ie: Pop-up emitters or open end drainage tile pipe). I've seen new construction with both block and poured. The outside needs to be waterproofed with some sort of spray or roll on compound or something similar.

There are constant stories about basements which haven't flooded in decades in older homes, then a new addition is built or the government reconstructs a road or something and the owners are complaining about flooding.
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Old 04-04-2018, 01:30 PM
 
Location: SoCal, but itching to relocate
228 posts, read 136,237 times
Reputation: 204
Quote:
Originally Posted by indy_317 View Post
Basements aren't necessary for tornado safety mostly because there are much cheaper options available. For one, the garage floor shelters are pretty popular. A company comes in, cuts a rectangle in the floor, they drop a shelter with a door.
So interesting! I've never heard of such a thing. Anyone here ever had one installed? Care to share any pricing, opinions, etc.?

Quote:
Originally Posted by indy_317 View Post
Plus construction around the lot can cause issues. A relative's basement flooded for the first time in two or three years but they were building homes right next to their home at the time.

<clip>

There are constant stories about basements which haven't flooded in decades in older homes, then a new addition is built or the government reconstructs a road or something and the owners are complaining about flooding.
I would imagine that adding an in-ground swimming pool to an existing lot could also upset these types of things...??? Would an experienced, reputable pool company be knowledgeable about how to avoid such things?
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