For newcomers from the Midwest and East, it's perplexing why California homes don't have basements, which are common in other areas of the country. Furthermore, fear of earthquakes was frequently cited as a cause for the Golden State's lack of basements.... But science has proven these excuses wrong.
The main reason California homes don't have basements is because they were never intended to be living spaces. They're used only for storage, and most houses built before 1990 weren't designed with that purpose in mind. Basements were originally constructed as attics or cellars, which were not part of the house itself but instead were separate rooms above the first floor.
Furthermore, earthquake safety wasn't really considered when building codes were created in the 1950s and '60s. The prevailing wisdom at the time was that buildings should be made out of strong, rigid materials such as steel and concrete, rather than being located on soft soil. The belief was that if the ground shook enough to cause damage to the foundation of a house, then it would also shake loose any heavy objects that might be placed on top of it.
But scientific research has shown that this isn't true. Basements are able to sustain some level of earthquake activity without causing damage to their contents because they're separated from the rest of the house by a solid wall or floor.
Aside from earthquakes, basements do not exist since they are utilized to keep pipes "indoors" so they do not freeze in the winter. California, unlike the northeast and midwest, does not have this problem. The only thing inside the basement is the furnace or air conditioner.
If you live in a house built before 1990, then you know what a basement is and why they are useful. If you build your home after that date, you will not be able to have a basement because all basements are made of stone or concrete and post-1990 homes are built with lighter materials on top of the foundation which can collapse under its own weight or due to an earthquake.
Basements were originally used as underground rooms for storing food and supplies. In modern times, they are usually used for additional housing space.
There are two types of basements: full and partial. A full basement has a flooring system that covers the entire basement while a partial basement has walls but no flooring. Partially finished basements are easier to clean out and may be less expensive to heat/cool than a fully finished basement. There are many factors to consider when deciding how to finish your basement including budget, location, and style.
Basements are not prohibited in California. They're simply not as important when the weather is mild and there isn't a lot of rain, ice, or snow. Builders discovered that building a home on a foundation was less expensive. Most California homes lack attics as well. Some houses have been built with half-basements for convenience, but they can be difficult to heat and cool.
The city or county where you want to build will have an official code department that can give you information about basement requirements. These departments may be part of a community development office or they may be separate entities. Either way, they will be able to help you determine if your plan meets with code requirements and can also tell you what permits you'll need to install plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and other systems.
In most cases, you'll need to get a permit from a licensed contractor to excavate soil for a basement. Then you'll need to obtain a building permit. The process required varies depending on how much work is being done and who is doing it. If you're hiring out contractors, make sure they are licensed and provide you with a copy of their license. You should also ask to see proof of insurance. Make sure they follow all local safety regulations too.
You must protect the foundation with a waterproof barrier. This can be poured concrete, stone, or another type of material.
Most Las Vegas homes do not have basements since the rocky soil makes digging difficult and the foundation does not require it for strength. However, some homeowners may choose to add a basement to their home by digging out part of the yard and filling it with concrete.
Basements are often used as extra rooms or storage space, so they aren't necessary for every home in Nevada. But if you add value to your house by extending its life or improving its appearance, a basement could be an option for you. A professional designer can help you come up with a plan for your house that takes advantage of any available space.
The decision to include a basement in your home design should be made with care because they can be expensive to build and there are factors other than size and location that may influence whether they're needed in your case. For example, if you live in an area that experiences heavy rainfall, then you might want to consider including measures to protect your basement from flooding. Or if you have small children or pets, then you'll need to think about how to make the basement safe for them too.
A basement can also be a huge expense if you have to completely re-do part of your house when you go from having one owner to two.
Caliche, an impermeable layer of sedimentary rock-like material that occurs in deserts and dry environments, is the major cause for the lack of basements in Las Vegas, Nevada. Basements are impossible to excavate in Las Vegas. The cost would be too high and there's no way you could get the dirt out once it's inside the house. The best thing to do is locate a home with a basement or patio attached, so at least you'll have some type of outdoor space.
Most homes in Las Vegas were originally built without basements because water was seen as a problem, not something people wanted to spend money alleviating. Over time, though, we've learned how wrong we were about water: It's extremely important to maintain proper water pressure in your home for health reasons. If you don't have a basement, then you're forced to rely on the water company to supply enough water to meet the needs of your household, which means you can never really be sure if you're getting all the water you need.
As well as being unavailable, basements are also expensive to build because you need special permits from local authorities and they can be hard to find.
The reason most houses in Las Vegas don't have basements is because our city was built on sand and salt deposits, which are very porous materials that allow water to seep through.
But, basement or not, there's no place to hide from an earthquake. Yes, tornadoes are a good thing, and having a basement is a good thing. We are also from Iowa. Last year, we elevated our house and built a basement.
No, the above-mentioned urban glass home does not appear to be a basement, but it is. It's a walk-out basement in a three-story contemporary Seattle house on a steep slope. Redfin/Wicklund Real Estate provided the photographs.
It is not enough to add furniture and repaint a basement to make it comfortable; you must also ensure that the wiring, plumbing, gas lines, and heating systems are safe. You should always investigate the legal status of a basement flat before renting it.