Why Can't Basements Be Built in Oklahoma?

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There are some homes with basements in Oklahoma, but most do not have them. It would seem to be a good idea to have basements in a state that is notorious for its tornado activity every year. Despite this, basements are rare due to the dampness of the soil in much of the state. With advances in technology, it is possible now to build basements, but only in newly constructed homes.

Damp Soil

  • The soil in Oklahoma has a lot of moisture in it. Some areas have a lot of clay, which just increases the dampness of the soil. This dampness seeps into anything that is underground, including housing foundations, storm cellars and basements. If you have ever been in a basement that smells damp or moldy, it is probably because the soil surrounding it is damp. This is the case in Oklahoma, where water leaks, mold and fungus are all possible hazards when building a basement due to the amount of moisture.

Water Pressure

  • Because of the dampness of the soil, water pressure can build up and put a strain on buildings, especially ones underground such as basements. Even the thickest concrete walls that are well-constructed and strong can still give way to water pressure, particularly if that water pressure has been over a long period of time. During rainy seasons like in the spring, the soil becomes more saturated, leading to an increase in the pressure. If the walls of a basement give way, this means the foundation is no longer sound, which means the entire house can be a hazard.

Waterproof Polymers

  • Over time, all of the horror stories about homes with basements that rotted, had leaks or otherwise damaged a property led many to believe that it was unwise to build a basement in Oklahoma. At the time, this was the correct thinking. But advances in technology, particularly waterproofing, now make it possible to build a basement in Oklahoma. As concrete walls are poured for basements, they are coated in waterproof polymers and allowed to dry, making them waterproof.

The Cost

  • Though these new polymers are a new approach to building basements in Oklahoma, they are not without cost. Traditionally, a basement was a cheap form of storage that cost a fraction of the cost of building storage above ground. But when you factor in the engineering and special equipment involved in waterproofing a basement in Oklahoma, the cost may be too much for some homeowners. Many would rather have a traditional house with no basement and spend those extra dollars somewhere else. On the other hand, basements can provide more energy efficiency because they are cheaper to heat and cool than above-ground spaces. Homes with basements also may take up less land.

References

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