Have you ever seen a basement with a roof and no house?
June 19, 2008 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever seen a basement with a roof and no house?

Many years ago, I saw a documentary about (?northern Colorado?) neighborhoods where construction stopped (presumably due to WWII or the great depression or some such) with dug out basements and they just put roofs on the basements.

I have been googling without success to find out more about these basement-only homes, with the goal of tracking down the neighborhoods in question and touring them.

Myth? Real? Can you google better than I? Pictures would be grand!
posted by moof to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have seen a house like that referred to as a "hope house", but a quick google doesn't yield much in that direction.
posted by gyusan at 2:59 PM on June 19, 2008

Yes, I have seen one. I'm not totally sure, but I think it might be the one closer to the road seen here.

Damn bird's eye view is not really helpful for this particular topic, is it?
posted by lampoil at 3:07 PM on June 19, 2008

Yeah, I've seen them before. It's not specific to that area.
posted by loiseau at 3:08 PM on June 19, 2008

Here's what I was thinking of (halfway down the page).
posted by gyusan at 3:11 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've seen a church like this - although it got that way by burning down one year. The parishioners put a roof over the basement and worshipped down there until money could be raised to build the church properly.
posted by LN at 3:24 PM on June 19, 2008

Yes, my neighbor lives in one. He has a cellar hole and a roof on it and, until quite recently, lived there. I'm not sure if this was the result of the house burning down or not being built all the way to begin with but he lived there for years and years. I have never seen neighborhoods like that, though.
posted by jessamyn at 3:28 PM on June 19, 2008

Onions and potatoes (and maybe other crops, I don't know) are sometimes stored in structures like that -- a big basement with a roof. Sometimes people retrofit them into houses, adding a few windows and sometimes a partial upstairs.
posted by Forktine at 4:12 PM on June 19, 2008

In the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, my aunt and her family lived in such a house for a long time. It wasn't in a neighborhood or anything, and I don't really know why the house was like this. They could walk out of one side of the house, because it was more or less built into a hill.

Eventually, they put a house trailer over the basement area, and it looks more like a 'normal' house.

It's fairly common to see people build houses around a house trailer up there; my brother calls it a 'pomo' (pole barn/mobile home), but I don't know how common that term is.
posted by wfitzgerald at 6:09 PM on June 19, 2008

One here, in Provo, Utah; date uncertain. Practically all of Provo's student houses have unofficial nicknames; this one is "the Bomb Shelter."
posted by eritain at 6:25 PM on June 19, 2008

(Should have specified, it's the one due west of the street-view point. Doesn't show up too well because it's got a white vinyl roof and a white shed behind it.)
posted by eritain at 6:27 PM on June 19, 2008

I saw one every day in Carroll, Iowa, next to the graveyard. It had a little superstructure on top to provide a place for the door and the top of the stairs.

My dad always said they ran out of money.
posted by toastchee at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2008

Modern houses that are below grade except for the roof and possibly one wall (usually the sun facing wall) are called earth sheltered or bermed houses. A google search for earth sheltered returns a couple hundred thousand hits.
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 PM on June 19, 2008

There's a man near where my parents live whose house burned down not that long ago. He didn't have insurance and had very little money to begin with, so now he's living in his basement with a very shaky structure and tarping serving as a roof overtop. That's the first time I've seen a basement as a house, and it's definitely not a construction "style" in this case, but a matter of emergency.

The town (which is very small) had a fundraiser to try and help him get back on his feet, and I think he's doing OK now. I believe they're trying to get the house at least partially built again before next winter (eastern canadian winter = lots of snow = really bad when you only have a semi-covered hole in the ground to live in)
posted by Planet F at 8:56 PM on June 19, 2008

We had a house in my town that sat as an unfinished basement open to the elements for a couple of years. When the city threatened to fill it in with dirt as it was an attractive nuisance, they found the cash to put up an actual house on top.

The roof-on-basement probably won't meet code in a lot of incorporated municipalities, at least post-WWII. That doesn't mean they couldn't exist in rural areas or in later-annexed parts of towns.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 PM on June 19, 2008

« Older Help me get the fizz into my home made root beer   |   Stop Leaking Loops Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.