View Poll Results: If you live in a house, does it have a basement?
Yes
26
65.00%
No
14
35.00%
Voters: 40. You may not vote on this poll

Basements

Old Jul 25th 2015, 2:06 pm
  #16  
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Default Re: Basements

I voted no but wish I had voted "yes". My house has a "walk in crawlspace", which means that about 80% of the volume needed for a basement exists under the house, but it needs a little more digging, and a concrete slab laid. To achieve this is a little tricky, though not impossible, when the house has already been built on top of it. It would likely be cost prohibitive to do this now. Curiously two neighbouring properties have exactly the same issue, including one that has part of the crawlspace so high (deep?) that the owner needs a ladder to work under the floor at one end of the house - it was built on a knoll and the crawlspace is 9-10ft high at one end.

To answer Steve_'s question, the depth to which foundations have to be dug is dependent on the frost line, and the frost line also determines how deep the water and sewer lines are buried. In Canada and the northern US states the foundations have to be so deep that you might as well have a basement because much of the digging has already been done and you also have most, if not all, of the walls required for a basement, so the marginal cost of adding a basement is quite small.

In some parts of the US, most notably Florida, a house with a basement would very quickly develop an indoor swimming pool without perpetual pumping.

Originally Posted by robin1234 View Post
I've always assumed that houses in the northeast in the US usually have basements so that you can get the water in and the waste water out more easily, in a climate where it is way below freezing for months at a time. .....
Well deduced!

Last edited by Pulaski; Jul 25th 2015 at 2:58 pm.
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Old Jul 25th 2015, 2:56 pm
  #17  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
I think pretty much every house in the New England area has a basement of some kind.
Yes, I use mine to store rainwater after particularly heavy storms and/or rapid snowmelt. It's quite handy for this as it doesn't take much effort at all to get it in there.
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Old Jul 25th 2015, 9:03 pm
  #18  
 
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by tonrob View Post
Yes, I use mine to store rainwater after particularly heavy storms and/or rapid snowmelt. It's quite handy for this as it doesn't take much effort at all to get it in there.
I always assumed that was why in my part of Texas there were no basements, because of the flood risk.

All we need is 2 days of tropical rainfall and we go into panic mode. Houston is known as The Bayou City for a reason It is hard enough keeping a one storey house dry without worrying about the basement area.
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Old Jul 25th 2015, 9:34 pm
  #19  
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Default Re: Basements

I've never seen a basement in Houston. But most houses have large attic spaces. We have one above the second floor, which has a lot of space, including the water heaters, plus a smaller one above the garage, accessed via a door upstairs in the house.
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 12:37 am
  #20  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
Half-height basements are usually so you can get at the furnace.
Only a very short person would be comfortable working on the furnace in that cramped basement. (My immediate thought on seeing that half-height basement was that I'd probably have to pay a plumber extra to do any work on the furnace there.)

Any normal sized worker would much prefer to access the furnace in a basement like the one we have now....
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 1:15 am
  #21  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by WEBlue View Post
Only a very short person would be comfortable working on the furnace in that cramped basement.
I've seen them in BC, it's so you can do furnace maintenance, e.g. change the filter. One I saw was in a retirement bungalow and I couldn't help thinking that a significant number of retirees would end up getting trapped down there.
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 1:28 am
  #22  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
To answer Steve_'s question, the depth to which foundations have to be dug is dependent on the frost line, and the frost line also determines how deep the water and sewer lines are buried. In Canada and the northern US states the foundations have to be so deep that you might as well have a basement because much of the digging has already been done and you also have most, if not all, of the walls required for a basement, so the marginal cost of adding a basement is quite small.
Well I went to realtor.com and banged in Phoenix and anywhere within 20 miles and value up to $500,000 and of 18,654 results, 206 have a basement (1.1%). And they appear to be all over the place e.g. Gilbert which is not exactly upmarket.

This rather unstunning house in Mesa for example: 3227 N Saffron St, Mesa, AZ 85215 - Home For Sale and Real Estate Listing - realtor.com® (Didn't it flood in Mesa recently?)

If you do the same for various places in California and Nevada they're sometimes described as a "bonus room"

I'm sure there are logical reasons to have a basement but I can't think of any overpowering reason why e.g. in Victoria you absolutely need one, but there aren't any houses listed on realtor.ca that I can see that don't have one.

I suppose I could sit and look through all the relevant building codes but yawn...
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 4:12 am
  #23  
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Default Re: Basements

wealthier people in the Western and Southwestern US sometimes have basements in their homes for wine storage, but that's the only deviation I've only ever seen.
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 4:24 am
  #24  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
Well I went to realtor.com and banged in Phoenix and anywhere within 20 miles and value up to $500,000 and of 18,654 results, 206 have a basement (1.1%). And they appear to be all over the place e.g. Gilbert which is not exactly upmarket.

This rather unstunning house in Mesa for example: 3227 N Saffron St, Mesa, AZ 85215 - Home For Sale and Real Estate Listing - realtor.com® (Didn't it flood in Mesa recently?)

If you do the same for various places in California and Nevada they're sometimes described as a "bonus room"

I'm sure there are logical reasons to have a basement but I can't think of any overpowering reason why e.g. in Victoria you absolutely need one, but there aren't any houses listed on realtor.ca that I can see that don't have one.

I suppose I could sit and look through all the relevant building codes but yawn...
What's your point, I think I answered all that already - when winters are cold the frost line is low and foundations and utilities have to be deep, hence basements are common. When winters are mild and/or short the frost line is much higher, and foundations and utilities can be much higher (even if you have a well and septic system), and then basements are rare unless the original home owner is willing to cough up for the deeper foundation. As your statistics prove, only a tiny percentage of homes have basements when winters are short and/or mild.
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 9:54 pm
  #25  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
I think pretty much every house in the New England area has a basement of some kind.
Agreed and they leak like ***k after a decent snowfall has melted.
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Old Jul 26th 2015, 10:02 pm
  #26  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by ellio View Post
Agreed and they leak like ***k after a decent snowfall has melted.
Not if they are properly finished. In my three finished basements, the only one that ever leaked had a small, separate, unfinished area off to one side, and if there was excessive rainfall, yes, it did come into that section. The others -- and the rest of that basement -- have been completely dry.
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Old Jul 27th 2015, 12:19 am
  #27  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post

However I was in Austin recently visiting a friend of mine and I had a look around the houses being built, in fact I went to one estate where the houses looked totally identical to the ones around me here, the only major difference externally was an AC compressor and instead of being occasionally brick clad they were clad with the local limestone rock or whatever it is called - but... no basements.
I just visited the Capitol in Austin this week. They've extended their floor space by digging in four floors below ground level - Everything below 6 feet was solid limestone that needed to be removed.
Possibly why Austin is short of basements!
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Old Jul 27th 2015, 1:51 am
  #28  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Nutmegger View Post
Not if they are properly finished. In my three finished basements, the only one that ever leaked had a small, separate, unfinished area off to one side, and if there was excessive rainfall, yes, it did come into that section. The others -- and the rest of that basement -- have been completely dry.
I am not sure what you mean by "finished" (I usually associate that with the walls and trim inside a house), because the tendency of a basement or crawlspace to leak is almost entirely a function of the grading and drainage. Our home has been graded on a slight knoll (slopes down hill for at least about 8ft in all directions even though it is at the bottom of a fairly steep slope from the road. Even in the most torrential rain, about 9"-10" overnight, there has never been a water problem under our house.

On the other hand a house my in-laws used to own in Virginia had a basement that had been excavated about about half way down a slope with no drain or grading to stop water on the uphill side reaching the house and then filling up the hole that the house had been built in. Water then penetrated the slab concrete floor from the bottom up, as the hole filled with water. Mrs P and I were living in it at the time and we spend several days afger that digging a drainage trench and installing a pipe covered in gravel that carried water sideways around the end of the house and emptied below the house where the water could carry on downhill.
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Old Jul 27th 2015, 1:57 am
  #29  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I am not sure what you mean by "finished"
I'm assuming "finished" means having drywall up instead of seeing the concrete walls and some kind of flooring on the floor versus concrete. My laundry room has concrete walls and a concrete floor. The rest of the basement is "finished" with flooring and dry wall.

My basement hasn't leaked in the 10 years I've been here.....but I did have a frozen pipe bust and flood some of it.
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Old Jul 27th 2015, 3:08 am
  #30  
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Default Re: Basements

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I am not sure what you mean by "finished"
I mean that the walls and floors are finished to the same quality standards as the rooms on the upper floors and if it wasn't for the lack of windows one might not realize that it was a basement. Many people use such a room as a playroom, a TV room, or a music studio, for example.
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