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Old 08-27-2008, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Wake Forest
2,828 posts, read 7,876,690 times
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We had a walk out basement in our house in apex (now cary) and it was a nice feature. We had thought about finishing it, then didn't because we ended up moving. We never had water problems, foundation problems or anything. It stayed nice and temperate down there and was a great space. The downside was the sloped lot. It made it so we never used our backyard, or rarely used it.

We have friends who have a basement lot, and they have two yards, basically. They have a two car garage on the top section of the house, which also has a "top yard", big enough for a playset, etc. They have that top section fenced in, and it is only about 4 steps down from their screened in porch. They have a second garage in the basement area as well. They have a second yard that is directly out of the basement.

I have seen a couple of houses like this, especially in their neighborhood. Now, that situation works better and you don't have to deal with the sloped lot.

I have a friend who pours basements, so I do know it is very important to work with a concrete company who is very familiar with basements and the soil here!

Leigh
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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I'm surprised how Denver has tons more basement homes than Raleigh/Durham given the ridiculously expansive condition and radon issues in Denver. Many homes have caisson and/or floating walls to deal with the expansiveness. But it seems like a given when purchasing a home in Denver to have a basement. We rarely saw homes with basement in Durham.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:44 AM
 
1,489 posts, read 3,612,730 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonwalkr View Post
I'm surprised how Denver has tons more basement homes than Raleigh/Durham given the ridiculously expansive condition and radon issues in Denver. Many homes have caisson and/or floating walls to deal with the expansiveness. But it seems like a given when purchasing a home in Denver to have a basement. We rarely saw homes with basement in Durham.
In Denver you're freeze line is a whole lot deeper than it is here, building a basement does not cost much more. Here you would have to do a ton more digging.
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
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Default Poured Concrete walk out basement have no water issues

Most of the walk out basements today are built by poured concrete walls and waterprrofed/insulated with very good engineered materials.

Yes. they do cost more to build and to finish
Yes. they are very useful with kids and extended family.
Yes. They allow you to have second kitchen, home theater, game room and extra guest rooms cheaper compared to having same space on first floor.
Yes. with proper grading you can have flat front yard and flat back yard.

As far as lot, they do not build walk out basements on flat lot. You do need a certain slope. At the same time slope does not have to be too much ( 10 ft. elevation change for every 50 ft. length is good enough )

regards,
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:48 PM
 
116 posts, read 154,160 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaZ View Post
Is having a finished walkout basement sought after in the Triangle? Can someone explain the pros and cons? One negative I have read is that many of the lots are slopped since its partially built into a hill.
Thanks all.

We have had them in the past and never want one again. Damp, dank and smelly. The only way to keep that from happening is by running an expensive dehumidifier and then it heats up the basement. With the crushing force of expanding clay soil, it is just way to much con versus an ever so slight pro. I would much rather have an unfinished upper floor that I could finish off the way I would like to.
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:02 PM
 
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I have a walk out basement with a large bonus/family room, a bedroom, full bath, and a large unfinished storage area. Basements are a rarity around here for sure-it took us a long time to find the right combination of floorplan, lot, and a builder we trusted to do it right.

One of the difficulties finding a good basement around here is that you need to find a lot that is inherently suitable for a basement plan. Too level and the excavation/grading costs are too high (our clay soil is difficult to work with)-too sloped and you end up with the back of the house looking off a cliff. I can't tell you how many basement homes we ruled out because of the number of stairs off of the main level back door (usually a deck off of the kitchen)-there were a couple in the Wescott neighborhood in Holly Springs that had upwards of 30 stairs to ground level!

I wouldn't trade it for a third floor walk-up. The basement is quieter by far, and easier to heat and cool than an attic. We run a small dehumidifier in the summer.

If built properly on the right lot there aren't any negatives-the materials and building techniques used today eliminate a lot of the concerns that you might have with a 10 or 20 year old basement.
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Old 08-27-2008, 06:57 PM
 
Location: Zebulon, NC
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We've been in our house almost two years now. We designed it with a drive-under garage and basement. We are on a sloped lot, but it's not such a dramatic slope that it feels like we're on a cliff. The nice thing about it is we have excellent drainage - don't really have to worry about our house flooding, despite having a creek running across the front of our property, about 250 yards away.

Our basement is most definitely NOT damp, dank and smelly. It's unfinished, and made of cinderblock. We run a dehumidifier, but it was not expensive - it cost around $200. It's one of these three Frigidaire models that we bought at Lowe's. It keeps the basement very dry and doesn't heat it up at all. You can either manually empty the bucket, or connect it to an external drain, which we have in our basement.

I guess our basement would technically qualify as a walk-out, but you have to walk out through the garage, on the side of the house. We have a deck off the dining room/kitchen for access to the backyard, and there are about five or six steps leading from the deck to the yard. There are ten steps from the front porch to the yard on one side, and the front porch is almost level with the ground on the other.

We love the way our basement and garage are set up, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Here are some photos of our house while it was under construction. It might give a better understanding of how it's set up.

Front of house, garage on the side.



Back deck



Back yard, showing the slope. The basement is under the side with the deck, and the garage is where you see the exposed brick. While the slope is more dramatic towards the garage side of the house, we have a huge side yard that we use more often. The backyard is mostly used by the dogs. Beyond the backyard fence, it's about a 450-yard walk through the woods to our property line.



Side of house, with view of front porch steps



View of entire side of house



More recent photo of the front, while in the process of putting in a flower bed



Hope this wasn't too much information, but I wanted to demonstrate that it can be done without having your house on the edge of a cliff.

Last edited by Claire_F; 08-27-2008 at 08:09 PM..
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:56 PM
 
116 posts, read 154,160 times
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Nice house. Love it.


The expense of the dehumidifier I mentioned was in the running of it, not the cost of the unit itself. Once a basement is finished off, you may notice an increase in oder, mildew and dampness. Moisture will be wicked up into it an then be absorbed into the rug and/or furnishings. Once closed in and the dehumidifier running, it will get heated up. We have been through that enough to now appreciate the absence of a basement.

The idea of the underground garage is an excellent one. Take advantage of the space, minimize the footprint and improve the overall look of the home. That was a great decision.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:32 PM
 
Location: Taylors, SC
8,521 posts, read 13,868,025 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneezecake View Post
We opted against a walk-out basement in our home, which is on a "basement lot" because it would have added 50k to the price (for an unfinished basement).

Instead we got a "tall crawl" foundation that will accomplish 70% of what an unfinished walk-out would do for us with no added cost. It looks like this underneath (note, this is under construction still and will be cleaned up before closing - this was taken only about a month after breaking ground):
What's the difference? Visually it looks the same.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Zebulon, NC
2,268 posts, read 3,780,029 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fresh Start Today View Post
Nice house. Love it.

The expense of the dehumidifier I mentioned was in the running of it, not the cost of the unit itself. Once a basement is finished off, you may notice an increase in oder, mildew and dampness. Moisture will be wicked up into it an then be absorbed into the rug and/or furnishings. Once closed in and the dehumidifier running, it will get heated up. We have been through that enough to now appreciate the absence of a basement.

The idea of the underground garage is an excellent one. Take advantage of the space, minimize the footprint and improve the overall look of the home. That was a great decision.
Thank you! We're very happy with it. Another benefit of having the garage under the house is that the garage walls are the same as the walls of the house - meaning that we have a lot of extra room.

Our dehumidifier costs less than a dollar a day to run. It only runs when the humidity reaches a certain level; otherwise, it shuts itself off. Although our basement is currently unfinished, I've been in homes with finished basements running a dehumidifier (including a lake house we rented for a weekend a couple of years ago) and noticed neither excess heat nor any odor/dampness. I'm guessing that the odor/dampness levels can vary from house to house, but we don't foresee it being a problem with us.

If we ever do finish our basement, I doubt we'll install carpeting. My husband, who runs a home & small business computer service company, uses it as his tech room. We also run our server down there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beckycat View Post
What's the difference? Visually it looks the same.
My guess would be the lack of a floor.
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