Buying a home in Hawaii may seem like a dream for many people. The idea of living by the beach year-round, complete with perfect weather and scenic areas to explore, reads like a fantasy. However, because the layout of the land is so unique, one of the more common questions about homes in Hawaii is whether they have basements.

In general, homes in Hawaii do have the option of having a basement. However, the space below the house may not only be used as a basement but may serve other purposes as well, depending on need. 

Due to the tropical climate, homes in Hawaii must consider a multitude of considerations when being built. Based upon certain requirements, a basement may or may not be an appropriate addition to a home. Keep reading to learn more about the different considerations that need to be taken into account before installing a basement in a home in Hawaii.

Can Homes in Hawaii Have Basements?

While not as common as other types of foundations, homes in Hawaii do have basements. However, there is a list of things to consider when either searching for a home in Hawaii with a basement or building a home with a basement.

The first thing to consider is the height of the basement. While your home might have previously had a space left open beneath the house as a crawl space, or to keep it elevated, more often than not, that height would need to be extended to accommodate your needs.

Depending on the height of your basement, measuring from the lowest point of the ceiling, you may either have to raise your house some more or dig deeper into the ground. Either option is a meticulous process that requires precise planning and timing. 

The next thing to consider is the dryness of the basement. This is of particular importance especially considering the tropical climate of Hawaii. In some instances, the drainage system might need to be replaced or damaged pieces of slab taken out. Once the dryness of the basement has been established, it is key to put in a new drainage system that makes it easy for water to clear out of your basement.

A way to avoid any moisture problems in your basement is to make sure it is properly insulated.

Finally, the last thing you want to make sure of is that the plumbing of your basement bathrooms is working properly.

Percentage of Homes with Basements

As of 2014, only four percent of homes being built in Hawaii were being constructed with a basement. Much of this can be attributed to the quality of the soil in Hawaii and the depth of the water table.

In some areas of Hawaii, the soil is extremely sandy, which makes digging into the ground extremely difficult. The water table is also an area of concern that contributes to the damp soil and makes homes with an added basement susceptible to flooding.

But having a basement may not be as popular as it once was. Across the United States, there has been a downward trend regarding basements with fewer and fewer homes being built without a basement. In fact, from 2000 to 2013, there was a twenty percent drop in the number of homes being built with a basement.

Types of Foundations for Hawaii Homes

The area beneath a house can serve different purposes depending on the foundation of the house. While a basement may be desired, oftentimes, it may not be suitable given the condition or location of the house. Below is a list of alternate foundations for homes in Hawaii.

Crawl Space a Type of Basement

A crawl space essentially is a more shallow version of a basement. While it doesn’t have the headspace that a basement does, nor is it as spacious as a basement, it still has many benefits.

Among them are improved airflow, keeping the house cooler during the warmer months, and providing extra space for storage. In order to maintain a crawl space, it is important to make sure to insulate the area to protect against water rushing in, which could cause mold or other complications.

Concrete Foundation Low Maintenance

A concrete foundation is a more traditional kind of foundation and one that most people are familiar with. A concrete foundation is simply a spread of solid concrete at the base of a house. It is typically 4-8″ thick and among its advantages are low cost, low maintenance, and take very little time to implement.

Pier and Post Foundation Suited for Flooding

This type of foundation is the most common one you will find in Hawaii. A home built with a post and pier foundation is raised off the ground using small pillars. Like the crawl space, the pier and post foundation provide great airflow to your house, keeping it cool during the warmer months without worrying about bugs or mold. Not only that, but their elevated position also allows your home to be better suited for any potential flooding.

Are There Homes in Hawaii with Basements?

In general, homes in Hawaii do have basements as long as they meet the necessary safety and zoning requirements. Once the requirements are met, a basement can be installed into a home if desired, providing extra space and storage to your home.