Why Florida Homes Lack Basements: Explained Simply

why does florida not have basements

No doubt, basements are helpful, especially as a storm shelter. But Florida is quite literally in the middle of the swamp, which means that underground anything is pretty sketchy.

Let’s take a quick look at why you won’t find many basements in Florida and why above-ground shelter options may work for you.

Why does Florida not have basements?

You can find a few basements in Northern and Central Florida, but they aren’t widespread by any means. 

Florida is not the only region in the US where you’ll find it difficult to find a basement. Southern spots like Louisiana and Georgia have swaths of land that are damp but nothing quite like Florida.

The Threat of Mold


Florida holds the title of being the second most humid state, with an average of 74.5%. With that much humidity, generally, mold follows. It thrives off the moist, warm air.

Mold exposure can lead to a variety of health conditions. And for mold-sensitive people, the impact is nearly immediate. The symptoms of a reaction include a stuffed-up nose, coughing/wheezing, irritated eyes, and skin reactions.



It’s common for modern homes to be built directly atop a concrete slab. But, in Florida, it is pretty well the only way to go due to the damp soil.

Once the house is on the slab, there’s no going underneath it. But, it is also that slab-on-grade that keeps your home from sinking in the swamp conditions.

Are basements illegal in Florida?

The actual building of a basement isn’t illegal. But you’ll find it nearly impossible to dig down the required 8 feet because of the difficult terrain.

When you do build one in the region, it increases the risk of a sinkhole forming and taking everything down with it.

Huge Underground Aquifer 

Florida is proud of its 100,000-square-mile aquifer that provides clean water to over 11 million Floridians.

But, it is one of the reasons why you won’t find many basements in the Sunshine State.

The Eye-Popping Price 

If it’s even possible, you’re looking upwards of $7,000 to waterproof a basement.

The high water table and proximity to the ocean make it challenging to build a water-resistant space underground.

Are there any homes in Florida with basements?

Every grave once in a while, you can find a home with a basement in the hills of Northern and Central Florida. 

However, the recommendation of experts across the board is not to build a basement or buy a house with an existing one. 

If a basement is a prerequisite for you to purchase a house, you’ll likely want to conduct the search in another state.

Basement Alternatives for Floridians

A basement is usually impossible or not worth the hassle if you live in Florida. But you have a couple of above-ground shelter options that will keep you safe during a Florida hurricane.

DIY Storm Shelter

Any storm shelter that you install will have to be independent of your home (i.e., not your bathroom). That doesn’t mean it can’t be inside your home; it just has to be bolted down to the concrete slab.

In a lot of cases, building a whole new storm shelter is cheaper than installing a waterproof basement. An above-ground shelter costs between $3,000 to $15,000 (the deluxe model).

You can apply for shelter funding grants through FEMA. There are some programs that refund money spent on pre-disaster preparedness.

The Door Costs the Most

A DIY budget for a shelter must include a good chunk towards the door. A heavy-duty steel door isn’t cheap, and you’re going to want high-quality hinges.

Remember that a storm shelter door needs to open inwards to avoid a debris death trap.

Professional Above-Ground Storm Shelters

You can find a ton of expert-built storm shelters, and it’s incredibly easy to get quotes. You’re likely looking at the same price range as if you decided to go the DIY route.

Valley Storm Shelters 

Valley Storm Shelters are available across many states and are a trusted brand in storm shelters. In Florida, facing hurricanes is an every-season problem. 

The smallest Valley Storm Shelter is 4×4 and holds three people. All shelter options meet the standards set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the International Code Council (ICC), and the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA).

Ground Zero Shelters

A Ground Zero Shelter is installed with the Hilti bolt anchoring system (HUS) and can withstand 10,000 PSI. The storm shelter also has a lifetime warranty covering any leaks or manufacturer defects.

All Ground Zero shelters meet FEMA and ICC standards.

FAQs about Florida Basements

Why can Florida have pools but not basements?

Most people don’t dig any further down than 6 feet to install a pool, while a basement takes you digging down at least 8 feet.

Also, a pool is supposed to be wet, and the fiberglass and procurement materials keep out any extra unwanted water. In contrast, a basement is typically mortar and brick, which degrades.

Is it possible to have a basement in Florida?

Basements aren’t common in most regions of Florida because the ground is wet. Between the water table, humidity, and the aquifer, it is mostly impossible even to build one. 

Basements are generally far more common in the North than in the South.

Is Texas or Florida more humid?

On a normal summer afternoon, the humidity in Tampa is around 63%, compared to Dallas at 44%.

Why are Florida homes built on slabs?

Florida homes are typically built on slabs because of the massive Floridian Aquifer System. Parts of the system can be only six inches from the surface of the ground.

You can hit the water by putting up a fence or mailbox.

Do houses in Florida have crawl spaces?

Crawl spaces are far, far more common than basements in Florida. All a crawl space is an open area or gap between the floor and the ground, in this case, a slab.

You don’t have to dig down to create a crawlspace; if you do, it’s not 8 feet.

Is it possible to build basements in Florida?

It is possible to build basements in certain areas of Florida, such as in Central Florida where hilly terrain can be found, like in Clermont. These basements can be constructed into the side of a hill, allowing them to be partially underground and partially above ground.

What happens if you build a basement in Florida?

If you decide to build a basement in Florida, you should be aware that the Floridian Aquifer system poses a significant risk of water damage, flooding, and mold infestation. It is important to discuss the possibility of adding a basement with your contractor and consider the potential consequences.

Does Florida have a high water table?

Florida does indeed have a high water table, particularly in areas closer to the coast. This is due to the presence of a vast aquifer system spanning 100,000 square miles, which not only supplies ample naturally filtered drinking water but also contributes to the formation of stunning springs throughout the state.

Can you build your own house in Florida?

In Florida, it is possible for individuals to construct their own houses, although state law typically requires licensed contractors to handle construction. However, there is an exemption that allows property owners to act as their own contractors, even without a license, as long as certain restrictions are followed.

Do Florida homes have attics?

Florida homes may have attics, but they are not as prevalent as in other parts of the United States due to the challenging conditions of high heat and humidity. Consequently, utilizing attics for storage or living space can be more challenging in Florida.

What is the point of a basement?

The point of a basement is to provide additional usable space in a home, which can serve various purposes such as a garage, maintenance rooms, or living space. The underground portion of a basement is commonly utilized for storage, laundry rooms, hot water tanks, and HVAC systems. Homes with daylight basements tend to have higher appraisals compared to those with standard basements, as they offer more functional living areas.

Why do American houses have basements?

American houses have basements because they are a helpful addition due to the fact that building foundations need to be below the frost line in order to prevent freezing pipes, and the frost line in northern states tends to be several feet below ground.

Are slab homes safe in tornado?

Slab homes may not provide sufficient safety during tornadoes or hurricanes, unless they include a dedicated masonry or concrete safe room within the house.

Why are houses in Florida so cheap?

Houses in Florida are relatively inexpensive due to several factors. Firstly, the smaller size of these properties compared to homes in other states contributes to lower median property prices. Furthermore, the prevalence of older homes being sold in Florida also plays a role in the affordability of housing in the state.

Why do houses in Florida look so different?

Houses in Florida look different due to the state’s sunny weather, stunning beaches, and tropical atmosphere. Consequently, homeowners in Florida often opt for a more spacious and breezy architectural style, incorporating elements of Spanish, Mediterranean, or Coastal designs into their homes.

Why are all the houses in Florida stucco?

All the houses in Florida are made of stucco due to its durability. Stucco is highly resistant to fire and can withstand the seasonal changes by expanding and contracting. It is renowned for its longevity, often lasting up to 50 years before requiring replacement.

Why are Florida homes built on slabs?

Florida homes are built on slabs because of the groundwater table, which is the water beneath the land, and the force of gravity on physical objects.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.