Where I grew up a majority of the homes have basements.  Having lived all over Texas, from Corpus Christi to San Angelo, I've noticed that basements are not common here.

In fact, I have seen lively and viral social media discussions that assert that basements are illegal in Texas. That certainly isn't true.  The state capitol building in Austin has a basement. Illegal? No.

Impractical in many cases, yes.

Personally, I've always enjoyed having a house with a basement. That is the perfect place for a "man cave". Smelly and damp sound about right for that special domain in the home where a man can stake a claim, and get away from everyone in the house who disturbs him when he's doing "manly" things.

Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash Photo by Ryan McVay Getty Stock/Think Stock
Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash
Photo by Ryan McVay Getty Stock/Think Stock

It's where the pool table goes and a ratty couch where he and his friends can watch football, and....and.....watch football.  I don't know,  I never really did that much in my man cave. Help me out here.

If you check the home listings here in San Angelo you will find homes with basements. There aren't THAT many compared to the overall number of homes for sale.

So, why is it that basements are not as common in homes in Texas as they are in some other states?

According to the website, Home By Four, there are several reasons.

First, in those colder, "Yankee" states, building regulations require that the foundations of homes be built below the frost line. The frost line is how far down you have to go before the soil freezes in the winter. If the foundation isn't low enough, pipes can freeze.  In Texas, many parts of the state do not have a frost line.  We stay warm enough in the winter to avoid this.

Although, sometimes when it does our power grid fails and the pipes freeze anyway. Sorry, I digress.

In eastern Texas, there is also the problem of clay soils that shrink and swell.

Another reason is that the water table is close to the surface. In many areas of Texas, digging down just a few feet hits a layer of soil that is permanently covered with water.  That is the water table. It is close to the surface under large parts of Texas, including the Gulf Coast, Houston, and even Austin.

Basement flooding is an expensive problem. It is not a big problem in most of West Texas. A bigger problem here is limestone bedrock.

Many areas of West Texas have high concentrations of limestone bedrock. Although it is easier to crush than other rocks, it can still incur an added expense when building.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Perhaps the biggest reason of all why there aren't as many basements in Texas homes as in other states is that in Texas, we have room to grow.  Why build a house where you have to go up or down when you can build out?  There is tons of land in Texas.  It is just easier to build a home with all the space you need above ground.

I guess I'll just have to find another place for the man cave. Perhaps, the garage.  Maybe, I'll add a building out back. The possibilities are endless. I must admit, however, whenever there's a tornado warning, I miss the basement.

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