Q: Oklahoma and Kansas are in Tornado Alley, so why don’t they have basements? — Karen Christanell, Johns Creek
A: Cost is one of several factors why more homes in Oklahoma don’t have basements, according to published reports. Mike Barnett, a custom home builder in Oklahoma, told CNN.com that a small basement would cost $15,000-$20,000, adding that none of the houses in his recent 51-home development have one. He said about 2 percent of Oklahoma City-area residents have basements and about 10 percent to 15 percent “have some kind of cellar.” Low appraisals for homes with basements — basement space is not reflected in property appraisals, according to The Oklahoman newspaper — discourage people from having them built. Caleb McCaleb of McCaleb Homes told the paper that myths about the red clay soil and water level in the state keep people from building basements. “If the basement is designed correctly, then water intrusion and ground movement are not problems with a residential basement,” he told the newspaper. Mike Hancock of Basement Contractors Inc. told CNN.com that more Oklahoma home buyers are turning to basements. “I’ve got 32 basements to put in the ground right now,” he said. According to 2005 data from the National Association of Home Builders, only 0.5 percent of homes built that year in the West South Central region of the U.S. had basements, the lowest percentage in the country. There is no ordinance in Moore, Okla., where 24 people were killed by tornadoes on May 20, that requires shelters in homes, schools or businesses.
Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email email@example.com (include name, phone and city).