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Old 09-29-2008, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex
1,298 posts, read 3,982,185 times
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Just another thing for people to complain about Texas. Every state is different.
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:39 AM
 
1 posts, read 2,703 times
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I live in East Dallas, and I think it would be next to impossible to build a basement in my neighborhood. The soil in this area only goes down about 18". Judging by the local creeks, there is at least 20' of solid white rock below that foot and a half of soil. I know I can't dig more than a foot down in my yard without hitting LARGE white boulders. Much of the neighborhood is dotted by these boulders used as yard art. There are million dollar homes in this neighborhood most with no basement. I live two blocks from the underground house referenced in an earlier post, and it's actually built in a man-made hill above ground. This house cost close to $2 million to build in 2000, so I imagine money wasn't the biggest issue when they decided to build their house in a hill.

All that being said, it really comes down to the freeze line. In case you haven't noticed, starting in the 1950's houses quit being an expression of an architect's, builder's, or homeowner's self, and became a commodity that was built as quickly and inexpensively as possible. With no need for a basement because of such a shallow freeze line, there's no way a modern home builder would incur the extra expense.
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Old 01-22-2016, 12:56 PM
 
9 posts, read 5,161 times
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We are from wi and now live in tyler tx (east texas). Most contractors have no idea how to design or build a basement here. We are diy'ers and have built 2 basements with great success.
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Old 01-22-2016, 01:46 PM
 
8,277 posts, read 6,660,999 times
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If you want to understand why basements aren't common in much of the state, spend some time looking at sidewalk panels. The ground here moves A LOT and, as someone else mentioned, the water table tends to be close to the surface in many places.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:17 PM
 
5,353 posts, read 10,241,642 times
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And maybe take a look as to WHY basements do exist in the "Frozen North", to start with?

I grew up, up there. And did and studied Construction in the area. Including on old farm houses and building well over 100 years old.

Really old homes (100 years +) and even commercial buildings did not come with basements, per se. At least not in the original construction.

More typically a trench had been dug down about 4 to 5 feet and then a foundation was made of local rocks that had been cemented together -- about like a stone wall you may see -- but mostly underground. It would stop about 1 foot above the ground level, and the building would be built on top.

This foundation wall would usually have a cut-out area along one wall, and some ramps or steps would lead down to the area under the house. Folks in older times -- before Refrigeration and Freezers -- could use that space as a "root cellar." "Roots" being potatoes, onions, carrots, etc. that could be stored in that under-house space.

The foundation had to made that deep to go below the "frost line." That would prevent the Winter Freeze from shoving the rock wall foundation out of the ground.

Come WW2 and the Advent of Reddy-Mix and such pour-in-place concrete, and folks would go back and hand-dig the space down below the Rock-Wall-Foundation from the inside. Concrete could be poured on the dirt below, and capped up as curbs to inside of the rock foundation, making a full-floor and useful space. Typically indoor stairs were added to come up inside an existing closet space on the Main Floor.

On newer houses WW2 and after, when concrete blocks replaced the rocks, and onto fully poured-in-place basement/foundation walls -- the depth was still required due to the ground freezing, and for the relatively cheap cost of pouring the concrete floor . . . which doubled the house floor square footage, for dimes on the dollar -- most houses have been built right up from a hole in the ground with a full basement all planned in advance.

Now to the South -- Texas in particular. No real "frost line," so no real need to go to depth. No depth means no real cause for a basement.
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Old 01-25-2016, 08:49 AM
 
1,822 posts, read 1,563,741 times
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Growing up in Texas, I never knew anyone with a basement, and never heard or saw a need for one. Now, having lived in an area for a few years where everyone has a basement, I still don't see what's so great about them. Other than for protection from tornadoes, or cramming more vertical space in one footprint, they aren't that big of a deal. And they add stairs to have to go down and go up with, which is a nuisance. I think most Texans would rather have a room added on, to simply walk into, which is much more practical.

The original question of "why don't people have basements?", is probably viewed by most in Texas as "why should we have them?" It's hard to want something that's unfamiliar and not a priority.

Wow, this is an old thread (started in Oct. 2007)...

Last edited by Sunderpig2; 01-25-2016 at 09:05 AM..
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Old 01-25-2016, 09:36 AM
Status: "Tell your loved ones you love them." (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Wonderland
54,474 posts, read 42,636,903 times
Reputation: 75886
It amuses me when people from other regions just assume that the only reason folks in East Texas don't have basements is because we just don't know about them.
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Old 03-02-2017, 09:48 AM
 
9 posts, read 5,161 times
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Hello everyone,
I just wanted to make an update to my previous comments. We have lived in East Texas now for 20 years and have noticed some things. As a general rule, many of the newly built houses here are made for show and not focused on quality. 2x4 walls leave little room for insulation (to keep hot or cold out or in). 24 inch centers on roof lumbar is another cheap shortcut (instead of 16 oc). I could go on and on. Basements do add to the cost of the house, however you can make that into living space, game room, storage for utilities such as washer, dryer, utility sink, small workshop etc. etc. The water heater can go downstairs instead of the attic so when it leaks it does not damage every floor it drips down through. This does not even mention gobs of storage space. I hear many people say that basements are not needed but its those same people who must pay rent to storage facilities every month. Its those same people that cannot park in their garage because it is full of stuff. I think the belief in common myths about water table and shifting soil along with ignorance on how to build them is the major factor in the rarity of basements. Yes you must run a dehumidifier. You must have proper drainage outside the house. In the south, the frost line has nothing to do with anything regarding basements. So the argument about depth is nonsense. If you have a basement, you don't want to crawl into it. That is why you have it tall enough to walk in. My basement is 9 feet high and that leaves me room for plumbing and floor rafters and plenty of room for shelves or whatever else I want to put there.

Last edited by Cram; 03-02-2017 at 09:52 AM.. Reason: Not done
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Old 03-02-2017, 10:59 AM
 
4,320 posts, read 4,570,143 times
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Everybody always said the same thing about basements in Dallas (water table too shallow, soil bad, rock, whatever) but now that land is expensive, every single big building under construction has 2 or more floors of underground parking. The answer of why no basements in Texas is and only that the houses are too spread out and cheap for digging underground to make sense. As the buildings get closer together and more expensive as more people move to TX, new homes will have basements. Maybe not this year, but in 10? Yeah.
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,789 posts, read 39,682,343 times
Reputation: 24208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cram View Post
Hello everyone,
I just wanted to make an update to my previous comments. We have lived in East Texas now for 20 years and have noticed some things. As a general rule, many of the newly built houses here are made for show and not focused on quality. 2x4 walls leave little room for insulation (to keep hot or cold out or in). 24 inch centers on roof lumbar is another cheap shortcut (instead of 16 oc). I could go on and on. Basements do add to the cost of the house, however you can make that into living space, game room, storage for utilities such as washer, dryer, utility sink, small workshop etc. etc. The water heater can go downstairs instead of the attic so when it leaks it does not damage every floor it drips down through. This does not even mention gobs of storage space. I hear many people say that basements are not needed but its those same people who must pay rent to storage facilities every month. Its those same people that cannot park in their garage because it is full of stuff. I think the belief in common myths about water table and shifting soil along with ignorance on how to build them is the major factor in the rarity of basements. Yes you must run a dehumidifier. You must have proper drainage outside the house. In the south, the frost line has nothing to do with anything regarding basements. So the argument about depth is nonsense. If you have a basement, you don't want to crawl into it. That is why you have it tall enough to walk in. My basement is 9 feet high and that leaves me room for plumbing and floor rafters and plenty of room for shelves or whatever else I want to put there.
You mean you never discovered the "Texas basement", meaning the completed attic? The entire top of our (built in the early part of the last century) attic is floored and it serves the storage purpose that a basement does. Other people finish out their attics and they become game rooms, workshops, etc.

Sounds to me like you've spent 20 years being upset that we don't do things the way you did where you came from, rather than understanding how we deal with similar problems in our very different climate and soil.
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