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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Millville, Worcester Co, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    59

    Default A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    I am not trying to be a smart alec, and my heart really goes out to anyone who has to live in an area prone to tornado's.

    But here is my question.

    Why are houses in those parts built mostly on slabs?, here in NewEngland almost every house has a cellar, and the few that do not were built in area's of high water tables. My brother in law lives in North Carolina and tells me that they will only build a house with a cellar if it's finished and its floor sits at ground level? His idea of tornado safety is the closet under the staircase. My uncle house in Ohio is on a slab, my cousin in Florida house is on a slab?

    It seems to me that in the cellar of a house would be the only safe place to be if you had a tornado warning.

    I am just curious, I have never made it south of Pennsylvania or west or Indiana.

    Are the houses built that way due to a high water table, snakes, insects, etc?

    Steve_G

  2. #2

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    9 times out of 10 it's probably cost. Most folks would rather have a gourmet kitchen than a basement, safe room, or storm shelter. I've seen one big tornado in my life from a few safe miles away. That alone was enough to make me never want to live anywhere they are anything more than a very rare occurrence.

    And actually the cellar/basement isn't always safe either.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
    Posts
    284

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    A slab is just a preference.Some like slabs ans some dont.Here now people are starting to build safe rooms.Thick concrete walls and roof with steel doors.They are used for storms,gun safes and valuables storage.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    819

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    I can only speak about the southern Missouri area and what I know about the soil along with the few houses I've built here in west central Missouri. Parts of Jasper County (Joplin) Lawrence County and points east are known as the Ozark Plateau. Go further south and you hit the Ozark Mountains which were very grand in their day. Erosion has knocked them down and left an area with top soil (LOL) comprised of mostly tiny pieces of mountain rock. There are areas with good ground and there are houses with basements. Over time it was not popular to have basements. Having put in a couple of gardens in the area I can tell ya it's no fun picking through the rocks either.

    Here in the part of Missouri where I live a reasonably sized machine can dig a basement for a foundation in 6 hours. I do own some land in the Ozark Prairie area. Six grave lots for me and my family. Want to be with the folks buried there for six generations. And ya, a back hoe can dig that okay.

    That's one of the reasons for having or not having a basement (soil).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ozarks
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    819

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    It's not about price. Basements are cheap compared to living space upstairs. My family in Missouri settled Virgina and Tennessee before Missouri. You have basements there Stephen?

    What is so cool about the southern Missouri area is everyone is family. They help one another. If you are from out of town and upset one of them you just upset a 1000. Over time you upset enough people then you are an outcast. You will see what I'm talking about as the folks in Joplin progress through their terrible event.

    Might as well throw Florida in the mix. Friends there say the tornadoes that follow the hurricanes are real bad. Stuff happens.
    Last edited by MDS; 05-27-2011 at 06:36 PM.
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    Very few basements in Oklahoma (lots of storm cellars though) mainly due to the clay soil and high water table.....very hard to build one and keep it dry.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  7. #7

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    Quote Originally Posted by MDS View Post
    It's not about price. Basements are cheap compared to living space upstairs. My family in Missouri settled Virgina and Tennessee before Missouri. You have basements there Stephen?
    Sure do. And nice kitchens.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Palm Bay, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,297

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    In FL our water table is usually 2-3 ft down, sometimes a shovel full down. A basement would be a swimming hole. In S. FL there is solid coral (limestone) rock down 12-24 inches.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, U.S.A.
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    well in this part of Missouri its either swampland .....a basement would actually float out of the ground or be full of water during floods....or it in the rocky to solid bed rock area very little area in between but in the area where basements are possible there are many.
    I worked doing concrete for many years and lol basements suck when your the one building them

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Limstone county, Alabama
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    We live in North Alabama, and our first house had a basement. But when we had our second house built the high water table on the property made a basement impractical. We chose to have a safe room built into the house. It is basically a steel reinforced concrete bunker that is designed to withstand an EF5 tornado. My parents purchased a house that did not have a basement, and so they had a storm shelter similar to ours installed in their garage.

    As others have pointed out the geography/geology of some locations makes basements impractical. Some folks just can't afford them.
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work" -- Thomas A. Edison

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Millville, Worcester Co, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    Well folks, I thank everyone for the information.
    Living here in Massachusetts as I said, a cellar is most common. My own home has so much ledge just 1-3 ft underground, that it was just shear luck where the cellar was dug or they had to blast to get the cellar in. I hope w/in the next few years to visit the south and west and just figured that this would be the best way to answer a question which was long bugging me.

    Steve_G

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Lowell, Arkansas
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    Up North a basement is pretty much required due to the cold temps and long winters. Down here in the South, you can pour a slab and bury water lines shallow with very little worry of pipes freezing. Here in Arkansas water lines are buried 16-24 inchs. How deep are they buried in Maine? I would imagine 6-8 feet.

    Another thing is the need for a mechanical area under the home for heating and plumbing needs. Most utility companies up North are responsible for the utility line to the home. Every water meter I've ever seen up there is located in the basement, to protect from freezing. Here the meters are in the yard and the homeowner is responsible for the service from the meter to the home.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,129

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    I'm in the housing construction business. Almost all the new homes are built on slab because of the cost. The builder makes a lot more profit, compared to conventional floor joist construction.
    The older homes in our area are almost all conventional floor.
    Dan

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,550

    Default Re: A house question for my friends in the tornado belt?

    I just looked at our MLS here. Of 665 houses listed, 12 have a basement and those are almost all in newer houses of 3,500sf or more. Our stock is mostly single-story Ranch or Santa Fe style on slab or joists.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

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