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Which Michigan Cities Have the Most Basements?

This new real estate analysis reveals how basement trends and foundation construction varies throughout Michigan. Learn which Michigan city has the most basements.

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In Michigan, some cities are more likely to have houses with basements. This is more than just a design trend. Basement foundations are an engineering decision that’s based on winter temperatures, soil conditions, and weather patterns like flooding. 

Discover which cities in Michigan have the most basements and how basement construction trends are changing. 

What Percent of Michigan Homes Have Basements?

Aggregate property data about basements isn’t easy to come by. However, real estate transaction records can give us a helpful snapshot of local construction styles. To find out which Michigan cities have the most basements, we looked at recently sold single-family homes on Zillow. Using county-level data to have a large enough sample size, we could calculate the percentage of homes with basements, including finished or unfinished basements. 

The results reveal that Oakland County, near Detroit, has the highest concentration of basements in the state. With about half of all homes having basements, Oakland County even surpasses Wayne County and the city of Detroit, where about one-third of homes have basements. 

Falling in the middle of the locations analyzed are Traverse City and Grand Rapids with between 12 and 16 percent of homes having basements. That’s about the same rate as nearby Toledo, OH, where 17 percent of homes have basements. 

The Michigan city with the fewest basements is Muskegon, where only about five percent of homes have basements. 

Michigan County and City Percent of Homes with Basements
Oakland County (Troy)50%
Ingham County (Lansing)37%
Wayne County (Detroit)33%
Macomb County (Sterling Heights)33%
Macomb County (Shelby)33%
Genesee County (Flint)28%
Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor)27%
St. Clair County (Port Huron)17%
Grand Traverse County (Traverse City)16%
Midland County (Midland)15%
Isabella County (Mount Pleasant)14%
Marquette County (Marquette)13%
Jackson County (Jackson)12%
Ottawa County (Georgetown)12%
Saginaw County (Saginaw)12%
Kent County (Grand Rapids)12%
Bay County (Bay City)9%
Kalamazoo County (Kalamazoo)8%
Calhoun County (Battle Creek)8%
Muskegon County (Muskegon)5%

Why Are Basements More Common In Some Areas?

With basement percentages ranging from five percent to 50 percent, it’s worth considering why basements are more common in some areas. 

There are a few key factors that go into deciding if a home’s foundation should include a basement. The first is cost. Basement foundations require excavation, which makes them a more expensive foundation to build than slab foundations, which don’t require any digging. 

Another consideration is local water risks. Homes in flood-prone areas are less likely to have basements because of the high water table and the amount of damage a flood could cause parts of a home that are below grade. These water risks are why many homes in Muskegon county don’t have basements. In area wetlands, the water table can be as little as zero to 18 inches below the surface of the soil. Trying to dig a foundation with an eight-foot deep basement would invariably lead to water problems. 

The other factor in basement design is the frost line. Because of Michigan’s very cold winters, the ground can freeze up to five feet below the surface of the soil. Placing the home’s footing below the frost line can help stabilize the structure of the home and prevent foundation cracks or differential settlement. The depth to frost line is why basements are much more common in colder states like Michigan than they are in warmer states like Florida. 

What’s the Future of Basement Design?

While there are structural reasons as to why a home might have a basement foundation, it also adds value to occupants. The multipurpose living spaces add square footage to a home and can be used in a variety of ways from storage to home gyms or fan caves

Because of the flexibility of how basements can be used, they have become a trending house feature among homebuyers, according to a 2020 report by Homes.com. Homebuyer interest in basements has increased as much as fourfold. Similarly, basements have also been a part of the home renovation boom of 2021 with homeowners looking to update their basement so they can make the most out of the space. 

As more homeowners upgrade their basements, there are a few steps that must be done before getting started on drywall. Adding basement waterproofing can protect against flooding, moisture seepage, and humidity. This important preliminary step can protect floors and furnishings in your newly remodeled basement from being damaged. 

Find out how basement waterproofing can help you transform your home with a free consultation from FSM.

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