Why basements don’t make sense in Oklahoma homes
September 26, 2017
A basement can be a welcome space in a home. The downstairs room gives you storage and extra living space. In some areas of the country, a basement is also a safe place to escape a storm or retreat from the heat. But if you live in Oklahoma, a basement isn’t a viable option. Why not? Tornadoes are not uncommon in Oklahoma. Between March and August of this year, 74 tornadoes hit Oklahoma. While they’re rarely devastating as the 2013 tornado, these violent wind funnels still cause damage. When a tornado strikes, the power of the storm can rip off a roof, crush the walls, and pull up the sub-floor, exposing the basement. The home’s residents who escaped to the basement for refuge are unprotected. The methods required to build a basement that can deliver protection against one of Oklahoma’s twisters is beyond the scope of normal homebuilding. With very few contractors who are knowledgeable and skilled enough to construct a basement of this type, the price can range from $30 to $50 per square foot. Depending on the size of your home, a basement could cost $50,000 or more. And the home’s appraisal will not cover that price so the homeowner is responsible. Ideal Homes’ President of Construction, Todd Booze, explained that appraisers must find comparable homes when evaluating a home. “Without enough homes built with basements, the appraisers don’t have comparable sale prices so they don’t give you much credit for the basement.” Instead of a basement, Oklahoma homes often have a storm shelter installed underground or above grade. This concrete safe room can be fortified to resist the wind shear of a tornado, with wind-rated doors and hinges. With the threat of tornadoes in this state, Ideal Homes takes extra measures to protect the homes we build throughout the Oklahoma City region.
- Structural sheathing is applied to the walls to provide wind resistance by making the walls more rigid.
- Rafter clips connect the rafters to the top plates, allowing uplift around the perimeter of the house to reduce the risk of having the winds disconnect the roof altogether.
- Anchor bolts are embedded in the concrete, instead of power-actuated fasteners, to give the structure more lateral resistance.