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Confessions of New Construction, Part 5

by Jennifer Kirby on December 11, 2007
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Digging the Foundation

When they finally dig the hole for your house, you wonder how they get it right. They stake the lot and take measurements, scoop out a lot of dirt, and then fill it full of concrete. It doesn’t look like much but the foundation finally gives the sense of a home being built.

The above photo is of the builder pouring the concrete walls, or forms for the walkout basement. A large percentage of homes in Minnesota have basements. Basements come in three versions, the simplest being a basement with no windows. The other two are:

  • Lookout: windows in the basement let you look out to the yard, but there is no access to the yard
  • Walkout: enough of the backyard is dug out to allow for a home owner to walk out of the basement into the yard. Homes with a walkout basement always have to be dug on a hill and cost you more in the purchase price.

Minnesotans love their basement space. Some are converted into Man Caves, others are the kids area, and some become theaters, bars, game rooms, or wine cellars. The options are endless. The home we are building will have a guest room and bath, family room, and office. We are keeping it less formal so our kids can play down there and I don’t have to worry about any accidents.

An very important thing to realize when buying or selling a home is that basement square footage is not given the same value as above ground square footage. Some people have told me the below ground square footage only brings 20-40% of the above ground square feet, but appraisers I have met neither confirm or deny the numbers. I have read that some give values between 50-75%. If you know the answer, I would love to know, but as with most things in appraising real estate, it all depends on the opinion of the one doing the appraisal. The best rule of thumb is to look at other homes that have sold with similar basements and judge from there. Any doubts, hire an appraiser. They cost anywhere from $300-500 here in the Twin Cities.

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