One thing many American homeowners are accustomed to having in their homes is a basement. For some homeowners, basements serve as personal storage units for storing items they don’t expect to use on a regular basis. Other homeowners convert their basements into other living spaces, such as an additional bedroom, a second living room, even a bar.
When homeowners relocate to Florida, they quickly learn that basements are incredibly rare in Florida homes. The few buildings that have them tend to be in slightly more elevated areas like Central Florida and the northern parts of Florida bordering the states of Georgia and Alabama. When moving to South Florida, however, there is one major detail that gets in the way of having a basement built: it’s too close to the ocean!
How South Florida’s Proximity to the Ocean Impacts Basement Construction
Florida is full of water, complete with many ponds, lakes, rivers and swamps. The state also has a large aquifer system with groundwater flowing too close to the surface to reasonably be able to dig out the necessary 8 feet for a basement without encountering flooding. From a geographical standpoint, Florida’s large aquifer system coupled with a hot climate and the fact it’s a peninsula surrounded by ocean water also leaves it vulnerable to hurricane activity. This also presents more problems for building a basement.
After the onslaught of Hurricane Andrew on South Florida in 1992, the building codes for Florida were changed to make homes more hurricane resistant. This means constructing homes with a strong enough foundation to withstand category 5 hurricane winds and flood damage. As such, many Florida homes are built on concrete slabs and are fastened with hurricane straps to keep them from falling apart during the onslaught of a storm. On that front, it is also structurally impossible to accommodate a basement, especially in homes closer to the coasts.
What Can Be Used in Place of a Basement in Florida
Since the geographical conditions of South Florida make it impossible to construct homes with basements. Florida homes, however, can be built with attics, which can serve many of the same functions as basements. Attics can be used for storage and can be used as a spare bedroom. An attic can also be converted into a second living room.
Another popular option for homeowners is to renovate the second floor of their homes with a loft, which can serve many of the same purposes as a basement, including having a second living room. Smaller, single bedrooms on the second floor can also be converted into a large, single bedroom. For additional storage, many homes can be built with a shed in the backyard or an extra garage right next to the home, complete with the same hurricane protection as the home itself.