Most homes in the South lack basements. And no, this is not an error in design at all. This might strike Northerners as strange because up north, most homes have basements. And when they go to the South, they are confounded by the locals’ preferences for outdoor storage sheds. There are reasons why most houses in Texas lack basements. In today’s post, we are listing down reasons why Southern homes lack basements:
Dampness of the Soil
The most common reason why Southern homes have no basement is the dampness of the soil. Soil in Alabama, Louisiana and eastern Texas is incredibly damp. That’s because these places are near wetlands and swamps. When the soil is too damp, basements are less feasible. Most basements provide extra storage. You can imagine the damage dampness could cause to stored home items. Basements are also an open invitation to flooding in the South.
The climate in the South is either wet or dry. This causes the soil to expand and contract. In Texas, the soil is comprised of clay. The soil composition in Texas holds too much water. Clay swells up and contract depending on the climate. And building a structure on clay soil is not a good idea. Any structure developed in unstable soil will break down at some point.
The constant swelling and retraction of the soil could put too much pressure on the walls. Eventually, the walls would give in. A basement could only make the home a death trap for the household.
Loose Soil Packing
Solid soil is important in developing a building, especially a home. If the soil is loose, the foundation won’t be stable. The changing season coupled with constant soil movement could cause a structure to collapse. The south is prone to rainfall and high heat. The soil is rapidly expanding and contracting. The soil is also very loose. These are all bad combination that’s why most builders do not add basements on houses.
To build solid foundations, the frost line should be avoided to prevent cracking or freezing pipes. In the North, the frost line is several feet below the surface. This makes an ideal place for constructing basements. But in warmer climates, the frost line is so much closer to the surface. As such, building a basement is very expensive. Builders have to dig deeper in order to create a sturdy foundation for the structure. That’s why most Southerners do not bother with a basement.
In the South, there is only a shallow layer soil that covers the thicker layer of limestone bedrock. Limestone is softer than most rocks but digging through it will require more than elbow grease. Building a basement means digging deeper into the soil and that’s expensive. Adding to the fact that you have to dig through solid limestone bedrock, then the cost easily skyrockets.
Of course, there are regions in the south where homes have basements. Homeowners have those built because the environment is ideal. These structures also add value to the home. If you have a home or is considering buying a home in the South, make sure you do your research about the area first. You want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth on this investment.