Why Do Coastal Homes Lack Basements?

If you look at homes in a coastal region you may notice a common trend: a lack of basements. This common characteristic of homes in these regions is due in part to cost, but can also be attributed to the barrage of annual storms that lead to flooding. In many parts of the Atlantic coast, homes are constructed on slab foundations to save money in digging out a basement and to protect the home from potential flooding and water damage. Flooding is not only a common occurrence, but a yearly reality in many areas due to hurricane season and propensity to flooding in locations at sea level.

Basements & Flood Resistant Construction

Building homes resilient to floods is practically mandatory in coastal regions. Annual hurricanes threaten structures and cause millions of dollars in water damage to homes and businesses. New constructions are required to adhere to building standards that are designed to reduce the potential for water damage. Part of these designs emphasize slab foundations that can be more resistant to infiltration from water. Basements are susceptible to water damage from flooding since they are dug deep into the ground. Here, even small amounts of water buildup can enter through cracks and openings along the walls and foundation as water inundates the soil.

For existing structures, sealing cracks and openings around the walls and foundation is very important to protecting the building from water damage. Selecting the right building materials and Also, doing things like erecting flood barriers and having a strong emergency plan to deal with rising waters is important to ongoing preparation. Coastal structures at flood level are often elevated with piers or columns to prevent flood waters from intruding. In general, for these areas, basements are impractical precisely because of the proximity to sea level.

While there are obviously exceptions to the general trend that Atlantic coastal homes lack basements, there is a noticeable lack of underground living quarters in this region due to the threat from hurricanes and subsequent flooding each year. As one ventures further inland, however, home construction begins to vary and basements are more common.

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