In general, there are three types of foundations on which homes are built, and these are: full or partial basements, crawl spaces, or slabs.  A foundation is chosen based on several factors, including location, cost, and demand in Washington. 

Homes in Washington state do have basements, but finding a home with a basement can vary.  Coastal homes in Washington have fewer basements because of the damp climate, soil, and water table.   Also, newly constructed homes are being built with fewer basements because of cost and style preference.

 A lot of people look for a home with a basement because they want to have extra storage space, a bonus area for activities, or even create a place they can rent out for extra income.  However, it is important to consider several key factors when deciding if you want a home with a basement in Washington.

What Conditions Prohibit a Basement in Washington?

The first thing that is important to investigate is the building codes to make sure that the city will allow a basement in that area.  This is the case with any basement in both new and existing homes.

In some locations in Washington, you may not be able to have a basement because of the soil.  Typically, locations with more rain and damp soil are not ideal for basements.  This is the case for a lot of the cities located on Washington’s coast where the water table is high, and there are large amounts of rain throughout the year.  This makes it less feasible to dig deep enough to have a basement.

If you are located more inland on the plains, and away from flood zones, you may see more homes that have basements.  The reason is in some of these areas it is colder and easier to dig a basement to the appropriate depth below the frost line.

Can Basements Make a House More Expensive?

Having a basement in a house can make it more expensive because it adds to the square footage.  Especially if the basement is a finished basement.  It can also cost more money to construct if the house is in an area that is not an ideal location to have a basement.   

Other times, having a basement can cause a house less expensive because below ground square footage is becoming less desirable in certain parts of the state.  This can especially be the case if the basement is unfinished and would require additional work. 

A lot of newer houses are not being built with basements in Washington because they are more expensive due to having to meet building codes.  Most people also want more usable space upstairs where there are more light and more comfortable year-round living conditions.  These houses with additional upstairs square footage might end up being more expensive because of the demand and preference for this space. 

On the other hand, older houses are more likely to have basements due to the demand the year the house was being built.  They may also be less expensive depending on the location, square footage, and condition of the home.


Problems with Having a Basement in Washington

Flooding is one of the biggest risks for basements.  Especially if they were not planned or constructed well.  Flooding can occur from various sources like:

  • underground water
  • surface water
  • sewage 

Some locations in Washington are at sea level, and this can be a big issue for potential flooding and foundation damage.  This can increase the cost of having a basement because you must ensure that a basement meets all the building requirements to prevent any major problems.

Window wells are usually built to help drain water that may cause flooding, but if they get clogged, they may not work properly and potentially cause more damage.  In the western part of Washington, where it rains a lot throughout the year, and there are many large trees, basements can sometimes have more issues with window wells draining properly.  

How to Search for a Property with a Basement in Washington?

If you are ready to buy a house in the Washington area and are searching for a property with a basement, the best thing to do would be to connect with a realtor to help search for properties that help meet your needs.  Realtors often have connections and lists of properties that haven’t even gone on the market, so they are your best bet to help get what you are looking for.

If you are just browsing for properties, then you can start with many popular real estate sites.  A lot of these sites have functions to narrow down your search to include only houses with basements.  For example, when searching for properties in Seattle, Washington, that have basements, the search comes up with around 586 homes on one of the most popular sites,


Homes in Washington do have basements.  However, they are becoming less popular in newly constructed homes based on the cost of building them and due to concerns over long term maintenance.  Also, many people are now opting for homes without basements for aesthetic reasons and to have more usable upstairs space. 

So, whether you are looking for a home with or without a basement in Washington, you should have a good chance of finding what you are looking for.