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Thread: Basements

  1. #1
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    Default Basements

    Around here, basement are few, and when there is a basement, only one or two sides are partly below grade. They allmost always have a door to outside or the garage.

    So I decided to look up basement on wiki
    Interesting read.
    Seems that there are several kinds of basements, I just never thought about. Makes me think.
    Clearly, I could and should know more about basements.
    I think it would be informative (at least to me) to start another thread on basements.
    This is an article from Wiki
    Basement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Question
    What I see around here, Wiki calls them "Daylight basements".
    What makes the basement, a basement, instead of just the lower level of the house?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Basements

    To me, if it's below grade level anywhere, it's a basement.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Basements

    I agree with Nick and the first line from the Wiki, "A basement is one or more floors of a building that are either completely or partially below the ground floor".

    Egbert Jager
    Diamond Home Inspection
    http://www.diamondhomeinspection.ca

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Basements

    There's a spec in the code I believe that defines a basement... it's something likke a % of the space being a certain amount below grade. I don't have time to look it up right now as I'm actually working today (whohooo )

    I'll check it out later....


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Basements

    From the 2006 IRC
    BASEMENT.
    That portion of a building that is partly or completely
    below grade (see “Story above grade”).

    STORYABOVEGRADE.
    Any story having its finished floor
    surface entirely above grade, except that a basement shall be
    considered as a story above grade where the finished surface of
    the floor above the basement is:
    1. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above grade plane.
    2. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above the finished ground
    level for more than 50 percent of the total building perimeter.
    3. More than 12 feet (3658 mm) above the finished ground
    level at any point.




  6. #6
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    Default Re: Basements

    It's probably a regional thing. Around here, you rarely find a house without a basement (or cellar).

    Sometimes it's defined in the local zoning ordinances (defined for different purposes than the building code).

    In zoning, usually, if one side is at or above grade, it's called a basement, or a walk-out basement. If all four sides are more than 50% below grade, it's usually called a cellar. Again, it's probably local, and different than the building code.

    To confuse things more, I think FEMA might have their own definition.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Basements

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    To confuse things more, I think FEMA might have their own definition.
    You bet they do!

    FEMA says it is a basement if ANY portion of a wall or floor is below grade. Exceptions include condos, garden apartments, etc.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Basements

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    You bet they do!

    FEMA says it is a basement if ANY portion of a wall or floor is below grade. Exceptions include condos, garden apartments, etc.

    Not quite. According to FEMA, for it to be a basement, it has to be below grade on all sides. The lowest floor, including a basement, has to be above the base flood elevation (for residential construction...commercial construction can be floodproofed). If one side is above grade, it's not a basement. The logic is, if water can get in, it can get out.


  9. #9
    David Bell's Avatar
    David Bell Guest

    Default Re: Basements

    I believe FEMA recognizes walk-out basement apartments as basements for flood insurance purposes.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Basements

    I have no idea where I learned or acquired this lingo, but I always distinguished between calling these below grade spaces either a cellar or basement by the access.

    If it's accessible from inside the above grade space by a stairs, without going outside, it's a basement.

    If you must exit the above grade space and enter the below grade space from the exterior of the building it's a cellar.

    Anybody else use this lingo or have I been confusing people all these years with this?


  11. #11
    Philip's Avatar
    Philip Guest

    Default Re: Basements

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    I have no idea where I learned or acquired this lingo, but I always distinguished between calling these below grade spaces either a cellar or basement by the access.

    If it's accessible from inside the above grade space by a stairs, without going outside, it's a basement.

    If you must exit the above grade space and enter the below grade space from the exterior of the building it's a cellar.

    Anybody else use this lingo or have I been confusing people all these years with this?
    I thought I knew the difference between a basement and a cellar, and I am with you. If you walk down interior stairs to a concrete, block, or wood(although I have never been in one of wood) then it is a basement. They usually have windows, small but windows. Cellars do not have windows.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Basements

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    FEMA says it is a basement if ANY portion of a wall or floor is below grade. Exceptions include condos, garden apartments, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    Not quite. According to FEMA, for it to be a basement, it has to be below grade on all sides. The lowest floor, including a basement, has to be above the base flood elevation (for residential construction...commercial construction can be floodproofed). If one side is above grade, it's not a basement. The logic is, if water can get in, it can get out.
    OK, I think I know what I am talking about here. Just last month I was doing FEMA disaster inspections in the Nashville area (for flooding) and FEMA's definition of a basement (for the purposes of the Individuals and Households Program) had not changed. I quote:

    A basement is defined as an enclosed area of the dwelling where any portion of the exterior wall or concrete floor is below grade. Below ground level condominiums and garden apartments are excluded from the definition of a basement.
    FEMA's definition of a basement (for the purposes of the IHP) has not changed for several years. You may be talking about another area of FEMA (e.g., Flood Insurance) where a different definition of a basement is used.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Basements

    The definition straight from the FEMA website, for purposes of the NFIP, is:

    "Basement--Any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor below ground level (subgrade) on all sides."

    They don't define a cellar. A cellar could be simply another word for basement.

    Cellars and basements (and stories below grade) are defined in different ways by the building code, zoning, FEMA, etc., so it really boils down to who is asking and for what purpose.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Basements

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    The definition straight from the FEMA website, for purposes of the NFIP, is: . . .
    FEMA has numerous programs. Like I suspected we are talking about two different programs. Your definition is for the National Flood Insurance Program. My definition is for the Individuals and Households Program.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

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