Construction practices vary throughout the state of Virginia, and some areas are much more likely to have basements than others. There’s a good reason for this home design trend. Basement foundations are an engineering decision in response to structural concerns such as soil conditions, winter temperatures, and flood risk.
Find out which Virginia cities have the most basements, and learn how the geology of Virginia has influenced basement design in the state.
How Many Virginia Homes Have Basements?
Near the JES headquarters in Virginia Beach, very few of our neighbors and customers have basements. Homeowners are much more likely to have a crawl space or a slab foundation. In other parts of our service area, the opposite could be true, and basements are a much more common home feature.
To find out which cities in Virginia have the most basements, we looked at recent real estate transactions. Using Zillow’s data on recently sold homes, the real estate transactions help reveal Virginia’s construction trends and which locations have the highest concentration of basements. The figures below only consider single-family homes with finished or unfinished basements. Analyzed locations include Virginia’s independent cities and counties with some of the largest populations.
The highest concentration of basements in Virginia is in Albemarle County, home to Charlottesville, and Prince William County, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. About 37 percent of homes in these counties have basements.
Conversely, fewer than one percent of homes have basements in the coastal cities of Portsmouth, Hampton, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. The cities of Richmond and Appomattox have a slightly higher concentration with four to seven percent of homes with basements. Roanoke falls in the middle of the pack with about 20 percent of homes having basements.
|Virginia City or County||Percent of Homes with Basements|
|Prince William County||37%|
Why Are Basements More Common In Some Areas?
A basement is a part of a home’s structural foundation. It needs to support the weight of the house, and it can also add usable square footage to your home.
It’s generally more expensive to build homes with basement foundations because they require digging. However, the cost is only one of the factors as to whether a building should or shouldn’t have a basement.
The first issue in basement design is the frost line. If the ground freezes in the winter, basements are more common because it anchors the home below the frost line and gives it added stability. Generally, homes in northern regions or higher elevations will have basements, while homes in warmer climates won’t need them.
Another critical factor in basement design is local water risks. Basements are less common in areas that flood regularly or have high water tables. For example, in areas along the Virginia shore, the water table could begin just a few feet below the surface of the soil, but building a basement requires digging down at least eight feet.
Even with these smart engineering and construction practices, all types of foundations can show signs of foundation damage. If the soil below the home starts to shift or there are water problems near the home, the structure itself could become unstable. Evidence of underground shifts can include wall cracks, uneven floors, bowing walls, nail pops, or the chimney separating from the home.
Your basement and foundation are so important to your home that foundation damage can cause it to lose 30 percent of its market value. If you think you might have foundation damage, sign up for a free inspection from the basement and foundation experts at JES.
What’s the Future of Basement Design?
A 2020 report from Homes.com revealed that basements are a trending feature among homebuyers. As housing preferences shifted during the pandemic, additional focus was given to basements because they gave buyers more usable square footage and multipurpose spaces. Homebuyers see basements as potential sites for home offices, home gyms, or for VT alumni, the perfect place for a Hokies fan cave.
The home renovation boom of 2021 is also prompting more homeowners to refinish their basements. Transforming these damp and musty basements starts with basement waterproofing. These water management systems can help you protect your basement’s new floors, drywall, and furniture. And because basement mustiness can affect the air quality in your entire home, improvements made to your basement can affect all parts of your house.
Learn how basement waterproofing or foundation repair can transform your home with a free inspection from JES Foundation Repair.