Here's Why Texas Homes Usually Don't Have Basements

Basement Room
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In the 1985 film, Peewee's Big Adventure, when the star's beloved bike gets stolen he is desperate to find it. He is so desperate that he turns to a phony psychic named Madame Ruby who tells him that the bicycle can be found in the basement of the Alamo in San Antonio. After making his way to Texas, Peewee finds out the hard way that there's no basement in the Alamo. If Peewee had known just a little bit about Texas real estate, he would have known that most homes in Texas don't have basements. While basements are pretty standard in other areas, find out some very good reasons for their omission on floor plans across Texas.

The Role of Geography

According to the Dallas Morning News, there are a few very good reasons for this particular real estate quirk. First, in some parts of the state, the water table is too near the surface of the ground to build a water-tight basement, and no basement may be better than a leaky, flood-prone one. Homes in Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama also do not have basements because of this. In other areas of Texas, there's damp clay soil that can push into basement walls, causing them to crack if not built correctly with the help of an engineer. There's also bedrock that looms near the surface in much of Texas that requires digging through it for a basement, which makes the whole process just too darn expensive. Similarly, the frost line—the point in the dirt where the soil does not freeze in the winter—is much shallower in Texas than up north. In other parts of the country, home builders must dig deep to make it below the frost line, and since they are already down in the dirt, they may as well put in a basement. There's simply no need for that in most of Texas.

Bigger in Texas

Also, Texas homes are already big and tend to have sprawling footprints. They don't necessarily need the extra space that would justify the expense of digging out a basement. While there's plenty of open space in Texas, homes in other areas can only add square footage by going up a level or down. Why go down when you can stretch on toward the horizon?

What Basements Are Used For

Finally, according to Bill Bettis, former president of the Greater Fort Worth Builders Association, since most people don't have basements in Texas, most people don't know what they're missing. "It's a little bit of a cultural thing simply because most people are not accustomed to being around basements unless they're from up north," he told the Dallas Morning News.

Basements have the reputation of being the downstairs teen hangout full of furniture castoffs. They're used for storage, spare rooms for family members who overstay their welcome, and keeping food and wine cool. Some basements are fully decorated family rooms or man caves, while others act as home gyms or utility rooms.

And don't tell Peewee Herman, but according to Texas Monthly, in real life, the Alamo actually has two basements.

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