Tennessee is a beautiful state to live in. But some unique challenges are facing prospective homeowners. One challenge is the potential cost of building a basement. Besides the cost, some dangerous challenges are more specific to Tennessee. These impede having a basement.

Generally, homes in Tennessee do not have basements. This is due, in part, to the fact that most homes are built on crawl space foundations. Concrete slabs are also a common choice. This is due to the rising cost of construction. Along with several other factors, this contributes to basements not being a common feature in Tennessee homes.

There are several factors at play here and many things to consider if you want to make the best decision possible. So, read on to find out some of the most common problems regarding basements in Tennessee, and we will provide the best information possible to help along the way.

Groundwater and Flooding

One of the biggest issues for Tennessee homeowners is groundwater. This is the level below the land’s surface where the water begins to collect, and according to data collected by the National Water Information System (NWIS) in Tennessee, it can be as shallow as five feet or less below the surface. This can lead to serious problems with flooding for full-sized basements.

Of course, this is a problem that can be solved for a price. On average, it costs around $5,500 to waterproof a basement in the U.S, though the price can go all the way up to ten thousand dollars. The money saved by foregoing this service could lead to severe water damage and foundational issues over time, so it’s hard to consider waterproofing for full-sized basements optional in Tennessee.

Crawl Space or Slab Foundations

Along with being on the decline around the U.S., full-sized basements are becoming less and less common in Tennessee. This is due, in part, to the rise in popularity of crawl spaces and simple slab foundations. Both are exceptionally cheaper to build and are becoming more and more common across the state. Here are the average price ranges for different types of foundations according to HomeAdvisor

  • Concrete Slab: $5,200 – $21,000
  • Crawl Space: $7,000 – $21,000
  • Basement: $10,000 – $30,000

As you can see, the price can vary widely, but even on the low end, a full-size basement will be a more costly investment.

Tennessee’s Karst Environments

Many areas in Tennessee are in what is called a Karst Geology. This is the name given to areas that house the aptly named Karst Hazards. These are hazards surrounding the rapid changing of geology and the surrounding area due to the rapid flow of water in underground tunnels and the quick degradation of Limestone due to chemical rains.

The two main areas of Karst Geology in Tennessee are the East and Central sections of the state. In these areas, there is a risk for severe hazards such as sinkholes forming. In these areas, not only do you have to be very picky about where you put your home, but it is also generally very risky to have a full-size basement.

You will almost always have foundations laid on simple slabs. This is because slabs are not only the cheapest foundation to lay but also the most steady in the face of potentially sudden changes in the surrounding area.

Basement Less Common Than Ever

Basements in American homes are steadily on the decline. Though there are areas of the country that have almost all their homes built on basement foundations, most new homes built around the country do have a basement.

In fact, the number of homes built on basement foundations went down over twelve percent from 2000 to 2018. Dropping to just under twenty-five percent means that as of today, less than one-quarter of all homes built in the United States have a full-size basement.

Along with the specific challenges that any given environment may face, the cost of construction materials has been steadily increasing. This makes the basement less valuable in the eyes of the consumer, as it eats into the budget in an already pricey market.

The Bottom Line for Tennessee

We have covered why basements are less common, but in none of these cases are they impossible. Although most homes in Tennessee will be built without a basement due to cost and safety measures, you can have a full basement installed in most areas.

If you are planning on building or buying a home in Tennessee, be sure to research the area! Knowing information such as the local groundwater level or potential karst hazards could be invaluable when making decisions about your future home.