John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Fair Oaks, CA 484-680-4852 (Mortgages in AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IN, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI)

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Scott Lawson
America's Home loans - Santa Rosa, Petaluma Mortgage Broker - Santa Rosa, CA
Mortgage Broker FHA, VA, refinance or purchase

Earthquake country brutha...


I found this als:


"Until now, basements in the United States have largely been a Midwestern or Eastern concept, and for good reason. Where it freezes in the winter, the land contracts and expands and will literally heave the foundation of a house up. Builders in those areas have to take the foundation well below the 4-foot frost line level to anchor it. Basements there are cheap to construct, so builders dig just a few feet deeper and create a full basement."

May 15, 2016 09:27 AM
Grace Hanamoto
Intero Real Estate - Sunnyvale, CA
Quality, Knowledge, Professionalism, Experience

Three reasons:

1. Because we don't have tornados in California (okay, we get them, but they're small on the Fujita or "F" scale).

2. We have earthquakes instead and basements would require different engineering for lateral movement.

3.  Californians and our lifestyle don't really mesh with basements.  I've lived here all my often are YOU at home? We have such great weather that we're ALWAYS outside of the home.  We don't need a lot of interior living space because we're simply not there.  Back east and in the midwest, weather gets nasty and they can be inside all day long--in which case more living areas is needed to accommodate long hours stuck inside your home!

That's my answer...Viva California's No Basement Housing!

May 15, 2016 07:01 PM
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

John, basements came from the necessity for foundations to fall below the frost line when building.  We don't have basements here in Texas either.

May 15, 2016 10:36 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


I agree with Sam.  A

May 15, 2016 01:32 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

It stopped around early 1930s for cost savings. Land in CA was always more expensive so builders cut the corners. In fact, many homes were built with no insulation other than stuff newspaper inside.

Modern homes with basement are used as wine cellar and theater. They come with elevator also.

May 15, 2016 01:17 PM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

In Florida it was the water tables. Not sure if it's as relevant in CA.

May 15, 2016 01:01 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

John, Many of the older homes in San Jose do have basements. I wrote offers on several for one of our mutual clients but the offer was not accepted.  As others have mentioned ... think earthquakes.   

May 15, 2016 09:40 AM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

I love Grace Morioka's answer.  I've only seen them in multi million dollar homes out here and they were more bunkers and wine cellars than anything and added after the fact.


With earthquakes, I can't imagine having one.  Even our harshest winters, there is no snow and we can still go out and do everything (even go to the beach in a dry suit).  No real need for that extra play space.

May 16, 2016 04:14 AM
Susan Laxson CRS
Palm Properties - La Quinta, CA
Realtor in San Diego, CA & Naples, FL

Purely economical reasons. Builders didn't need to put them in because land is more expensive than construction and builders wanted to save money on their construction costs.

May 15, 2016 10:13 PM
Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582


I lived there for 20+ years and would have loved a basement

We don't have basements in Florida either!

May 15, 2016 10:02 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

I have no idea... but I do know we don't have them in theCarolinas because of our red clay earth... very unstable.

May 15, 2016 09:02 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hi John -- it depends on the age of the house.  Many of the older homes in my market have what is known as a "California" basement.  It's a laughable term for many relocating clients although I have seen some very large basements over the years.  



May 15, 2016 05:14 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

John Meussner - surprisingly, I discussed this with my wife (after coming back from San Diego)!

And answer is - I guess - earthquakes.

May 15, 2016 04:21 PM
Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

You have some good answers here John. I cannot do any better.

May 15, 2016 12:35 PM
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

Rare, but I've been in a couple basements in the Newport Coast section of Newport Beach, large ones at that. Not sure of the "why basements are not common in California" myself, even with knowledge of the earthquake concern.

May 15, 2016 12:17 PM
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Much of California is desert, which means a lot of sand.  I think it would be a problem with the foundation.  The earthquakes could be another issue.

May 15, 2016 12:07 PM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.


May 15, 2016 11:14 AM
Raymond E. Camp
Ontario, NY

Most of the answers are what I would say.

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On Lyrics - Jerry Lee Lewis

May 15, 2016 09:47 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

sea level has something to do with it in Florida

May 18, 2016 10:08 AM
Libby Cousins
Extraordinary Processing - Spokane, WA
Contract Mortgage Processor, licensed in WA

One family in our neighborhood had a sunken living room and that was the closest thing to a basement I'd seen in Southern CA. When I moved to WA, almost every house here has them. Boy, it took a while to get used to!

I'd always assumed it was for structural integrity during earthquakes as well. 

May 16, 2016 06:33 AM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

I would say cost.  We don't have them in Dallas.

May 16, 2016 12:22 AM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

John Meussner The homes in California don't need the extra space to put in that big coal burning furnace like in the Northern states. (LOL) I really don't know, but I do like the extra space we have in our home here in Northern Virginia.

May 15, 2016 11:48 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I would guess because of settling and minor ground movement.

May 15, 2016 11:43 PM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

All cost related. Much of the cost would be to dig in areas of solid stone. Blasting anyone?

May 15, 2016 11:11 PM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Interesting question - parked and reading...

May 15, 2016 10:40 PM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

No idea.

May 15, 2016 09:46 PM
Toronto, ON

Could be a variety of reasons depending on the area.

May 15, 2016 09:37 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is a good blog topic for you.

May 15, 2016 09:33 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Well I learned something new about the foundation/frost level, etc.

I was going to say that in many of the warmer climates, homes are just built on slabs...but now I know why.

This, BTW, means that most in warmer climates have concrete subfloors vs. here they are built on plywood.  This has big implications for type of flooring used...colder enviroments have a strong preference for hardwood as it's warmer and they are contructed well for solid hardwood (as you nail into plywood).  Warmer environments accept tile more (as it cools the place down).  Now, hardwood is often preferred but much more expensive to install solid hardwood wo/ plywood subfloors.

The earthquake thing just wouldn't make sense to me at all.

May 15, 2016 11:57 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

No tornados?

Quicker to build on a slab.


May 15, 2016 11:00 AM