we are getting ready to build and are wondering if it is worth the extra money to put in a basement? We live

Asked by Misty Bonnau, Pittsboro, NC Tue Apr 8, 2008

in Pittsboro NC just outside of Raleigh. We would finish the same way as the upstairs, i just don't know how they appraise here.

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Barrett Powe…, , Cary, NC
Mon Oct 26, 2009

I think Eric answered your question best. The only thing I would add to what he said was that the lot you choose will also have an impact on whether or not a basement may be a good investment.

The clays in Chatham are of what is considered slight to moderate expansive clays. These expansive clays are what leads to wall and floor cracks in most basements. So selection of the lot with the help of a soil test is crucial.

There are other parts of Chatham County that are rocky in nature and can at times pose an issue trying to dig for a basement. If the rock is large enough, it can be costly to have it removed and thus may overshadow the cost benefit of the basement in the first place. These rocky areas can also be susceptible to radon gas collection if not properly vented.

Other considerations would be the slope of the property and whether or not cost may be mitigated by only having to dig 3 sides instead of all 4.

These are all issues your builder can help you with your assessment. If you do not already have a builder, we have a list of great builders here in Chatham that can assist you with the selection of your lot and construction of your home.
1 vote
Daniel Eberw…, Agent, Clayton, NC
Sat May 10, 2008
Misty - One word of warning about basements in this area. I good number of basements have moisture / water issues in this area, especially over time. The problems can be minor (higher moisture level) to severe (sitting water on basement floor) This can be caused by many factors, from putting a basement in an unsuitable area, to improper waterproofing, to improper drainage in the yard funneling water towards the basement. Basements are not common in this market, so research your builder to make sure he has experience with basements, it takes more then just a hole in the ground. And don't expect the city / county inspectors to catch mistakes; they don't spend the time on site to find problems. Hire a home inspector to check the property as it is being built, especially the basement. I’ve lived in one property with a basement, and it was a great part of the house, but we had to run a dehumidifier constantly due to higher moisture down there. And when my neighbor’s water line broke in her front yard between the meter and house, it flooded her basement.
Web Reference:  http://www.tri4sale.com
1 vote
Eric Andrews, Agent, Pittsboro, NC
Wed May 21, 2008
In my opinion it is worth it to have a basement. The additional square footage will appraise for less than the above grade square footage, but it is a very economical way of getting additonal living space. Block construction basements used to have trouble leaking due to the impermeable clay soils in the area. New pre-formed or poured basment systems are not having problems with leakage. Finding a lot with the proper grade and having a walk-out basement with multiple windows is a desireable space for entertaining or a play area for the kids.
0 votes
Kimberly, , Chapel Hill, NC
Sat May 10, 2008
A basement is warranted if the lot is level at the road but drops significantly in the back. I prefer poured concrete walls to the cement blocks because of fewer structural problems and less leakage. Of course you should only finish it if you need the space but I would add windows and a door now while it's easy. Bring in lots of light!
Web Reference:  http://rememberkim.com
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Lisa Skumpija, Agent, Pittsboro, NC
Wed Apr 9, 2008
Hi Misty-
My husband is a builder in Pittsboro and we are often asked about whether or not to build a basement and/or whether or not to finish a basement. Having a basement is a great way to add additional square footage at a lower price than the rest of the house. I find many people who are building like having the option to finish a basement at a later time when there are more finances available. It's also a great re-sale selling point. There are a large amount of people moving here from the northeast that search specifically for houses with basements. It allows you to stay competitive because the price per square foot with a finished basement house is usually much lower than a price per square foot for a house without a basement. Generally speaking, appraisers will appraise a finished basement at appx. 50% of the price per square foot for the rest of the house. If I can answer any other questions please feel free to contact me.
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Laura Grace, Agent, Pittsboro, NC
Tue Apr 8, 2008
Misty, The reason the appraisal will be important to you, is not so much, how it will affect resale, but if you are getting a mortgage your loan to value ratio is important.
The majority of my listings are new construction. (In fact I think we may have met at one of my neighborhoods). I am unsure why, but appraisers often are not willing to give the value that it actually costs a builder to put a basement in. Finishing the basement certainly helps to offset the problem and the square footage to cost ratio.
It sounds like you already plan on finishing it. If you decide to wait, consider having the builder, do the rough-ins for electric plumbing, and possibly even the HVAC.
Talk to your lender about this before the appraisal is ordered. I say a finished basement is a good way to go, and less likely a problem with your loan.
Web Reference:  http://www.LGRealtor.com
0 votes
Larry Story, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Tue Apr 8, 2008
I agree with Laura except that from a builders standpoint besides the dig a basement is an inexpensive way to add square footage to your home. If it is left unfinished and you finish it later it is a quick way to add some value to your home. The appraisal is different. What you have to look at is what you and your family want. I do still get buyers from the north that always ask about basements. So I would move forward with your plans based on your preferences.

Larry Story
Coldwell Banker Triad
0 votes
Laura Grace, Agent, Pittsboro, NC
Tue Apr 8, 2008
Hi Misty,
When I first started selling Real Estate basements were not very popular. However times have changed, and as more people move from the North it appears to be a very desirable feature. I now have many clients choosing to build a basement.
Naturally the lot has to be suitable. Unfortunately appraisers do not seem to give basements much value, (usually ½ approx of the finished upper levels) but fortunately consumers appreciate the additional square footage.
If you are finishing the basement, daylight is preferable. Have easy access to the outdoors, as well as the main part of the home.
I live in Pittsboro. I wish you many happy days in your new home. Please don’t hesitate to ask me additional questions, since I know the area, so well
Web Reference:  http://www.LGRealtor.com
0 votes
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