Basements in new Palo Alto houses Palo Alto Issues, posted by Citizen, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 14, 2007 at 10:32 pm
Anyone with thoughts on the trend in putting basements in new Palo Alto houses? I know this has been going on in old PA for years, but I have noticed it more and more in Midtown. Walter (and other engineers) - how are these going to hold up in an earthquake? When these are resold, do people pay enough of a premium to justify the added cost of building the basement? Any other thoughts from those who have debated putting one in a new house?
Posted by Neighbor, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on May 15, 2007 at 6:41 am
The basements, from what I understand, have a "steel cage" as its framing. This is for earthquakes .. its very expensive to put in a basement; though once you eat up the initial cost, the area is "free". So in a two storey house, you get the area of almost one storey free.
The basement will not be taken into account for appraisals, but its definitely not going to prevent from hiking the price. Someone that I know put in a bowling alley, other games in the basement. Their teenagers loved to hang out there instead of other public places. Now, if I had the money and I was in the market to buy a house, I would most certainly look for a house in PA with a basement !
Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on May 15, 2007 at 8:27 am
With the proper engineering houses built over a basement will hold up fine in an earthquake. If you are worried about basements, focus on City Hall and 525 University. The both have three story basements called parking lots.
Posted by Rick, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on May 15, 2007 at 1:09 pm
Basements are not uncommon is South Palo Alto. It's not clear if they are allowed in flood zones, but are built where groundwater is a few feet below the surface and pumps are installed around the site to lower the water level while building the basement. Thick, well poured and vibrated concrete is waterproof and a waterproof substance and also a membrane is placed around the outside walls to insure that it is waterproof.
I have heard that basements are very inexpensive to put in in some areas of Californis where old, long established contractors have been doing it and have the forms, etc available. Probably not in the bay area where prices aren't based on costs ,but how much someone will pay.
Posted by Howard, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 16, 2007 at 12:51 am
Unfortunately, the Municipal Code forbids basements in the flood plain. This is an unnecessary regulation. There are FEMA guidelines for floodproofing a basement, which if done would allow a basement in a flood plain under FEMA guidelines. But the City refuses to adopt these regulations.
Posted by joyce, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 16, 2007 at 4:54 am
I was under the impression that people building basements in high water table areas were displacing the water and would eventually cause problems for their neighbors. Some of Crescent Park has underground streams, for example.
Posted by Tom, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on May 19, 2007 at 9:46 pm
I would ask what the life of the waterproofing would be and ask the contractor to post a bond or pay for insurance for the life promised. Water is as close to a universal solvent we have, and I respect its persistence and pervasiveness. Of course as mentioned above it may all be moot if ocean levels rise significantly due to global warming. knhxt