Do Florida Homes Have Basements? Reasons, Alternatives, & FAQ
The State of Florida is known for its tropical climates, beautiful beaches, and a plethora of activities, such as hiking, zooming down a zip line, kayaking, and more. Many migrate to the Sunshine State each year to cash in on the beach lifestyle, and even if you don’t live near a beach, a beach is never too far off to enjoy.
Now that we know what Florida has to offer, are basement homes available? If you go on a house hunt, you’ll quickly learn that if you want a basement home, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one, which begs the question: Do Florida homes have basements? The short answer is that most Florida homes do not have basements. In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of this fact, so you’ll know the details if you ever decide to move to the state.
Do Florida Homes Have Basements?
It’s not impossible to find a home in Florida with a basement. However, in order to find one, you’ll need to be looking in the middle part of the state, primarily in the central and northern regions. Even still, finding a basement home in Florida is a challenge due to the climate, soil types, and building codes, which we’ll explain further.
Why Don’t Houses in Florida Have Basements?
There are a few reasons why Florida homes do not have basements, so let’s break them down to get a better understanding.
The soils in Florida have elevated moisture levels, and there is too much water underground to build a basement safely. In Florida, the underground water levels are roughly 3.3 feet deep, but to build a basement safely, the underground water level should be 8–10 feet. Because of this, flooding is likely in a basement with such little underground water depth.
Florida also has a lot of clay soil, which makes a sturdy foundation during construction virtually impossible. Clay soil expands and contracts with the ever-changing weather conditions in the state. It expands when wet and shrinks when dry. The continual expansion and contraction of the soil cause too much shift in the foundation, which would damage the home.
Florida Aquifer System
Most Florida homes are built directly on concrete slabs, or they may have a crawl space underneath the home due to the Florida aquifer system. Florida aquifers cover roughly 100,000 square miles that cover the entire state of Florida and the southern parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. However, the system in Mississippi is not used due to its high depth and salinity. The aquifers supply Florida with its main water supply, which is, in a nutshell, porous rocks that hold water and allow water movement through tiny holes in the rocks.
The aquifer system contains limestone, sand, and shell, and if you try digging for a basement, you’ll be risking the possibility of creating a sinkhole, and that could be deadly.
Florida Is One of the Rainiest States in the United States
This may come as a surprise, but another reason Florida has very few basement homes is that it’s ranked fifth for the rainiest states in the United States and averages 51 inches of rain each year. With all the rain and shallow underground water depths, flooding is a certainty if you have a basement. Mold is also a concern if you were to have a basement in Florida due to flooding and water damage.
Are Basements Illegal in Florida?
It is not illegal to build a basement in Florida, but the terrain makes it virtually impossible to dig for one safely, and a respectable contractor will tell you the same. In order for a home to be safely constructed with a basement, a digging depth of at least 8 feet is required, and that narrows down the areas where it’s safe to do so.
What Is an Alternative to a Basement in Florida?
If you were planning to move to Florida but are bummed that you will likely not have a basement home, don’t fret! People like the idea of having a basement due to the extra living and storage space it provides, which means you have to compromise in Florida.
Many Florida homes have outdoor sheds for extra storage space, as well as lofts, attics, or add-ons to the home. If you want a man cave, you may want to look for a home with an extra bedroom that you can convert, or you can convert your garage space if you don’t mind not using your garage for parking your vehicles.
The state of Florida is beautiful, but if you want to live in the state, prepare not to have a basement home, especially in coastal regions. While it’s not illegal to build a basement, safety must be considered first, and in most cases, the safety aspect is just not there. However, other alternatives will allow you to have that extra living or storage space you crave by utilizing your garage, loft, or attic. You can also add another room for a man cave or a playroom for children.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels