Profile picture for johnat

Is a refinished, daylight basement considered a "story"?

Or are "stories" only the parts of the house above ground level?
  • February 04 2009 - Sunset Hill
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Answers (15)

Profile picture for Chaz Walters
Only stories are above grade. regarding walkout outs, as long as you walk out prior to any stairs then its a walkout! (No interior stairs)
  • May 18
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No, a Daylight finished basement is considered finished square footage, but is actually called below grade. For instance your home might have 1300 square feet above grade, 1000 below grade, and 300 unfinished. However it would not be considered a story. It will only be considered a story if it is all above grade.
  • July 02 2012
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Profile picture for user826105
Do you want the technical answer or the real world answer?

Most jurisdictions use the 2006 International Building Code.  In a rational world, if the people who regulate what is built call it a story, it's not a basement. 

If you refer to Chapter 5 of the 2006 IBC, you will see that a basement is defined as a portion of a building that is partially or completely below grade plane, but it then goes on to define what "below grade plane" means.  In most cases, that's the average of the finished ground level around the first floor.  So is it a basement?  They have two rules.

A basement is a story, not a basement if the finished surface (read floor level) of the level above the one partially in the ground is:

1.  More than 6 feet above the grade plane.
2.  More than 12 feet above the lowest ground level at any point.

For walk out basements, there is a caveat which makes qualifying as a story even easier.  Where the ground slopes away, the grade plane is computed from the lowest point from the house to the lot line, or where the lot line is more than 6 feet from the house, the lowest point you can find within 6 feet of the house. 

So, you can see that most walk outs would qualify as a story, not a basement, both because the average of the soil around the house leaves the next higher floor more than 6 feet from the "grade plane" and because the next higher floor is oftentimes higher than 12 from the "grade plane."

So much for the technical answer.  The real world answer is it is a basement.  Appraisers must consider marketability, comps, and asthetics, and generally lump cellars, walk-up basements, and walk-out basements as differerent variants of the same thing.  I know that some walk-outs are more akin to living space (a story), but the that's not how the industry works.
  • May 30 2012
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No, a basement is not considered a "story" but it should be mentioned in the appraisal remarks as well as for marketing purposes. Many folks love a basement for weather conditions therefore it is a great selling feature!
  • July 07 2009
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You may also want to consider that if you are purchasing a property that is a split level the market value is typically lower than a traditional 2 story home. My opinion is that these homes are not as desireable. Also, when an appraiser is calculating gross living area the basement is not included although more value is given for a finished basement.

Hope this helps!  
  • July 07 2009
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Well the true story here is - above grade otherwise it is basement, not a "story".  A story is what is on top of a basement. A basement can be full or partial walkout, but remains a basement.
  • July 07 2009
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If your home is one level above ground, it would be considered a one story with a basement or a style 16 in the MLS.  If two levels above ground, it would be a two-story with a basement or a style 18 in the MLS. There are many other style designations to consider as well, depending on whether the home is a split level, trilevel, one and one half story with a basement, etc. A real estate agent can help you with the proper designation.

Bev
  • July 07 2009
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no. Below grade square footage is worth less than above grade.
  • July 07 2009
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HI Johnat -
It is definitely considered a "floor" but not a story according to our MLS.  Hope that helps! :)
  • May 27 2009
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It is NOT a story.  A story by definition is above ground so even a finished daylight basement wouldn't count- most agents get this wrong.  You have a "one story with basement". Appraisers also count basement square footage separately from above ground square footage on residential appraisal reports.  The basement square footage should be counted, however, when marketing the property.
  • May 13 2009
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Like Patrick stated, in the MLS it's broken down as split-level, tri-level, multi-level, 1-story on basement, 2-story on basement, etc.  Usually you wouldn't say, "I live in a 3-story house" if you were in a 2-story on a basement.  Here is some interesting reading on the matter:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4182/is_20061124/ai_n16877626
  • March 04 2009
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If it has heating vents it can be considered as square footage. As for a story, go for it.
  • March 04 2009
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Profile picture for Patrick Beringer
Well, the MLS supplies several categories that would apply.  For marketing purposes it might be up to the person doing the marketing.  For instance, it might be considered "two story with basement" or "tri-level" among others.  I'm sure there's an actual definition somewhere but what I've seen in practice is all over the map.
  • March 04 2009
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Profile picture for sunnyview
I don't think that appraisers look at it that way. I believe that a story is counted as the living space totally above grade. Take a look at this link and see if you agree. I know that there are appraiser on the board that could say for sure. My last appraiser told me that a story is completely above ground with no part below grade.
  • February 04 2009
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yes that is regarded as a story...doesnt matter if the space is finished or not

  • February 04 2009
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