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basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:13 PM   #1
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basement or not

We are still in the house hunting process. As a first time buyer, one thing I noticed is the basement adding big value to the house, maybe 15%? One silly question: what's the benifit to have a basement, some answers from my coworkers:
1. keep junks
2. strong fundation
3. If pipe breaking, no need dig a hole at the floor.

Currently we are interested in one 1982 colonial house, 3000 sf with no basement. Big enough for a couple with a three years old boy. In fact, more than enough. So number one is not in the list any more, how about number 2 and 3? Some other things?

Thanks
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:16 PM   #2
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Re: basement or not

If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably skip a basement. If the house has plenty of space for your needs and the price is right, I wouldn't hold out for a hole in the ground under the house.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:44 PM   #3
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Re: basement or not

I enjoy a basement when possible. Great for storage, place to hang out & make noise for kids, pool table, pin ball, casino slots, workshop, guest space etc... Also, depending on part of country you are in it can be safer during extreme weather (think tornado alley). It is space you can decide to expand into later if you have a young growing family. I would never put the laundry facilites there though. Traversing the stairs should be an optional. It also is earth sheltered and can provide a cooler place in summer if you do not have central air. Escape route windows or walk out is essential to my way of thinking. On new construction housing it gives you options for down the road once you have grown into the payments.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:45 PM   #4
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Re: basement or not

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy connie
I enjoy a basement when possible. Great for storage, place to hang out & make noise for kids, pool table, pin ball, casino slots, workshop, guest space etc... Also, depending on part of country you are in it can be safer during extreme weather (think tornado alley). It is space you can decide to expand into later if you have a young growing family. I would never put the laundry facilites there though. Traversing the stairs should be an optional. It also is earth sheltered and can provide a cooler place in summer if you do not have central air. Escape route windows or walk out is essential to my way of thinking. On new construction housing it gives you options for down the road once you have grown into the payments.
IIRC, semtex is in NJ. At least in my part of God's Green Earth (NJ), a high water table makes the basement less of a great thing than it might otherwise be.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:54 PM   #5
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Re: basement or not

We've owned 2 houses that had basements. The space was good, but we could never completely eliminate the moisture/leaks. The house we own now is one story with no basement. As we are racing towards old fogeeism, we don't miss the stairs at all.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:58 PM   #6
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Re: basement or not

Having a basement (along with the garage) was the main reason we just bought our house. It was the one thing I missed most while living in a condo.

My wife really likes the idea of my messy hobbies, exercise equipment, and screaming at the TV during Bears games to be underground
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 12:59 PM   #7
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Re: basement or not

I like a basement, but they are rare in Puget Sound area. It is hard to keep them dry in the clay soil and high rainfall conditions that are common here.

But having one is good in the right area. Your wife will let you do stuff down there that she would never put up with in the house proper.

Ha
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 02:50 PM   #8
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Re: basement or not

Ha is absolutely right.

But don't get a house with a basement if it is at all damp. It is next to impossible to get an absolutely dry basement in my part of the country.

Also do a radon test if that is an issue in your part of the country.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 03:23 PM   #9
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Re: basement or not

in our early years we grew up with a wonderful finished basement with ping pong table, pool table (courtesy of my mother's favorite uncle who manufactured them) and we even had restaurant booth seating. in the unfinished area there was a wash room and dad had a dark room.

i remember exploring my grandparents' unfinished basement and the walk-in attic. those were great times. attics are sooo cool.

since moving to florida yer lucky to find a house with closets, never mind attic or basements (which would be underwater here). very few people have room for billiards.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 03:40 PM   #10
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Re: basement or not

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy connie
Great for storage, place to hang out & make noise for kids, pool table, pin ball, casino slots, workshop, guest space etc..
In Florida you generally can't get basements, so we opted for an extra bedroom which we converted to a kid play room/den as they grow. For your area, I don't know the cost difference between a 4 br house no basement or a 3 br house with a basement (or whatever br/basement trade off you want), but you might want to consider weigh something like that in your plans.

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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 03:50 PM   #11
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Re: basement or not

As has already been said...... depends on where you are, even by neighborhood.

My house is on clay and the basement is waterproof, and it's nice on a hot day. It's too damp feeling for regular use for my tastes, but I'm not lacking space.

My parents and siblings have houses five to ten miles away on sand. Their basements are bone dry and used as a regular part of the house. My sis and her husband put a huge family room in the basement and their four kids are there every day.

That's upstate NY. It varies.

kate
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 04:23 PM   #12
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Re: basement or not

Most of the pros and cons have already been stated. I would dearly love a basement, for stuff-storing purposes, but we are, like Ha, in the Northwest where they are not common.

Reason: House foundation must be deeper than frost level. In the Midwest or northeast you have to go down 3-4 feet, IIRC. If you're half-way there it is not too much more expensive to build a basement. Here, we just go down 24" (used to get away with 18") which is way cheaper than a basement.

Another plus to the basement is the ease with which you can get to the underside of your plumbing, electrical and heating if you ever need to work on it or do remodeling. Crawl spaces SUCK for that purpose. Crawl spaces are also a pain to insulate and keep dry. But basements can be wet too.

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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 05:02 PM   #13
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Re: basement or not

Great place to store stuff, just make sure its dry, just make sure its dry, just make sure its dry , I haven't said it enough, but you get the idea.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 05:43 PM   #14
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Re: basement or not

Practically every house in this area (Boston suburbs) has a basement. This is our third house with a basement and I don't remember seeing one without. Had to waterproof the basement of our previous house. In our current home it is dry but a few of my neighbors basement will get wet when we get more than 3 inches of rain. I have an entertainment room with a pool table a bar and a big screen TV. Great place for the guys to hang out and watch playoff Football.........Go PATS........
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 06:06 PM   #15
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Re: basement or not

Thanks a lot guys, I know I could always get wise reponse here.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 07:44 PM   #16
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Re: basement or not

Quote:
Originally Posted by tio z
Great place to store stuff, just make sure its dry, just make sure its dry, just make sure its dry , I haven't said it enough, but you get the idea.
Listening to the sump pump as I type. More rain by the weekend.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 07:57 PM   #17
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Re: basement or not

As most have indicated, it is primarily a regional issue. A basement is the least expensive square footage you get in a house. If most of the homes in an area have one, it is desireable for resale if nothing else.

The dampness/moisture issues are greatly affected by the type of foundation. Older homes with cement block basements tend to be wet or at least damp. Newer homes have poured concrete which tend to be much more resistant to ground moisture. If I was looking at an existing home with a basement, I would avoid the the ones that use concrete block.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 08:01 PM   #18
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Re: basement or not

Since I've w*rked in the wastewater field (sewage) for just over 30 years, I would prefer NO basement....which is what I have.

I take phone calls daily from residents that have poo-water backing up in their sewage holding tanks basements! If you're looking for a house with a basement, make CERTAIN that it has what is known as an "overhead sewer". The simple, basic definition of that is a sewer service that ALL of the house's drains (sinks, bathtubs, showers, toilets, etc) go into and is suspended from the floor joists, so it is above the outside grade of your house. It then goes downward, below grade level, and out of the house to the city sewer main (or septic tank, etc). There should be ABSOLUTELY NO drains hooked up to it BELOW the level of your outside grade.

We sent all of our residents a brochure explaining all that to them, and basically said there should be NO drains at the same level OR lower than the nearest sanitary sewer manhole.

An acceptable, though less favorable option (and less reliable and higher maintenance option) is to have a "backflow" preventer installed on the house's sewer service just outside the foundation. It needs to be in a vault or pit that is accessible for maintenance, repair, and replacement. Depending on plumbing codes, this may require the hiring of a licensed plumber....$$$.

Also, if you get a basement, make certain that your homeowner's policy covers backed-up/flooded basements. Some do...some don't!!! Don't get caught with your boots on, and your pants down!!! In the case of our municipality, we (the City) are NOT liable for flooded basements reqardless of the cause, due to the fact that there are preventative measures that CAN be taken....whether or not they ARE taken.

My personal preference would be an extra room (if I needed the space) rather than a basement! 8)
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 08:16 PM   #19
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Re: basement or not

What's this fascination with burrowing in the dirt like photophobic moles?

There are very few basements in Hawaii (the soil is mostly rocky clay and hard to dig). Homes are built on concrete slabs (way stronger than a basement foundation) or on posts (not so strong but much cooler). Everything you guys are waxing sentimental about doing in a basement-- including a few fascinating yet unmentioned activities that I spent a lot of time pursuing in my high-school years-- in Hawaii is done in the garage. Many families here even have phone extensions, big-screen TVs, recliners, and full diningroom sets in their garage.

Of course there's no need to keep a Hawaii garage (or basement) warm or cool, as long as it's shaded & ventilated. Frankly for some of those aforementioned teen activities, a ventilated garage would have dissipated the evidence more rapidly (and offered more escape routes) than a baseent.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking-- where do you keep your car? In Hawaii, cars don't go in the garage. They go in the driveway or in the street. A neighbor of ours even parks their '65 Mustang and their 2001 Jaguar... on the street.
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Re: basement or not
Old 01-09-2007, 08:26 PM   #20
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Re: basement or not

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Many families here even have phone extensions, big-screen TVs, recliners, and full diningroom sets in their garage.
My next door neighbor's garage is like that. He has a fully equipped (near commercial grade) kitchen out there as well as a full bathroom (complete with wallmount urinal). That's where they host holiday/family gatherings, bridal/baby showers, and "Guy's nights out" and general "hey, let's drink beer" gatherings. It's also big enough to keep his DW's Toyota in there to keep her happy. :
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