untimely question

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snoqueen
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untimely question

Postby snoqueen » Tue May 21, 2013 11:29 am

It may not be a good time to ask this, but why aren't houses (and other buildings) in Tornado Alley built with basements? Just about every house up here -- where we also have tornadoes -- has a basement. It seems completely strange to have an entire modern-looking town built on slabs.

Sandi
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Re: untimely question

Postby Sandi » Tue May 21, 2013 11:34 am

Part of it, I think, is because we need a big output furnace to heat our home. In the south they only need a small auxiliary heat source at best.

That said, I think building a house without a basement in tornado alley is somewhat like building on the coast or a river floodplain. Do so at your own risk. Floodplains are as much a part of the river as the river channel, and beaches belong to the oceans.

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Re: untimely question

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue May 21, 2013 11:37 am

Sandi wrote:Part of it, I think, is because we need a big furnace to heat our home. In the south they only need a small auxiliary heat source at best.

That, and the additional cost of excavating the hole and pouring concrete.

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Re: untimely question

Postby wack wack » Tue May 21, 2013 11:44 am

All that, and the composition of the ground in that part of the country.

O.J.
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Re: untimely question

Postby O.J. » Tue May 21, 2013 11:50 am

http://www.wunderground.com/news/why-do ... s-20130521

The answer is largely due to three reasons: area building codes, the amount of water in the soil here, and the generally high level of the water table,

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Re: untimely question

Postby Madcity Expat » Tue May 21, 2013 11:56 am

I thought it had to do with the need to build a foundation below the frost line in northern latitudes. In the south - where you don't have a significant frozen layer of ground - it's not necessary to build a basement, considerably reducing the cost of construction.

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Re: untimely question

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Tue May 21, 2013 12:13 pm

that would fall under building codes.

Stebben84
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Re: untimely question

Postby Stebben84 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:02 pm

Francis Di Domizio wrote:that would fall under building codes.


You would think building codes would require at least a crude underground shelter if you live in an area called Tornado Alley. FWIW, I did see this today.

Image

http://www.buzzfeed.com/hunterschwarz/w ... n-oklahoma

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Re: untimely question

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Tue May 21, 2013 1:28 pm

Stebben84 wrote:You would think building codes would require at least a crude underground shelter if you live in an area called Tornado Alley.


based on O.J.'s link, it doesn't sound like even that is possible in much of Oklahoma. I was think a small concrete bunker like room attached to the house (or part of it) might be a good idea. Probably tough to force something like that into the building code though.

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Re: untimely question

Postby Sandi » Tue May 21, 2013 1:38 pm

The high water table in Oklahoma makes basements cost more because they must be waterproofed to combat mold and mildew.

Not only that, digging a basement with a high water table means that the hole usually fills with water right away, and expensive pumping would need to be used until the slab and walls could be built and waterproofed.

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Re: untimely question

Postby Stebben84 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:59 pm

So Tornado Alley is in an area where they can have underground shelter. How fucked up is that.

snoqueen
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Re: untimely question

Postby snoqueen » Tue May 21, 2013 2:53 pm

OK, I've been asking around among people who have lived in the south-central part of the country.

1) in some areas the water table is indeed so high if you dig a basement it pretty much needs to be pumped constantly (some parts of Minnesota are the same, though, and they generally put in a basement, so go figure);

2) in other areas, you've got bedrock so close to the surface you have to blast to make a basement which few people are willing to do.

The thing about frost footings is kind of irrelevant. We can put up a building here with only frost footings (they need to go down four feet) and many commercial buildings are done exactly that way. Not houses, generally.

Anyway, a lot of the answer seems to lie with geological conditions, but not all of it. Maybe if some people have to build houses with no basements, the general race-to-be-cheapest causes no basement to be the norm.

I guess it's too late for a lot of people, but maybe if this keeps happening we'll get a re-evaluation of the no-basement norm same as we are with building on the ocean.

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Re: untimely question

Postby pattymcnutt » Tue May 21, 2013 8:19 pm

There's an article on Huffington Post about how that elementary school didn't have designated safe areas and the related building codes and funding issues.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/oklahoma-schools-tornado-shelters_n_3314821.html?1369177955

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Re: untimely question

Postby Igor » Tue May 21, 2013 10:27 pm

snoqueen wrote:2) in other areas, you've got bedrock so close to the surface you have to blast to make a basement which few people are willing to do.


I know that is the case in the San Antonio area - a few inches of topsoil on top of bedrock.

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Re: untimely question

Postby other i » Wed May 22, 2013 6:22 am

"asked whether the government should require safe rooms in homes, he said, 'Most homebuilders would be against that because we think the market ought to drive what people are putting in the houses, not the government.' "

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/us/shelter-requirements-resisted-in-tornado-alley.html?hp

note; paywall


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