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Basement In A Tri-level

Discussion in 'General Appraisal Discussion' started by Pat Butler, Jul 18, 2003.

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  1. Pat Butler

    Pat Butler Senior Member

    7
    Jan 17, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Illinois
    I've never had problems with determining whether a level of a house should be a basement because it is below grade. But now I'm working on a tri-level where the lower level is at grade on the three exposed sides (its walkout in the rear) but the topography slopes up as it goes away from that lower level. So it could be considered below grade if you compare that level's elevation to the grade of that part of the house that is away from that level. Here's a photo http://www.appraisalservices.com/trilevel.htm

    Most of the tri-levels in our area that have below grade basements will have the ground slope up around that particular level so some part of the exposed 3 sides of the basement will obviously be below grade. But this one is only below grade if you compare its elevation to the higher grade this is not adjacent to it. Basement or Level One?
     
  2. Phyliss Crawford

    Phyliss Crawford New Member

    0
    Feb 7, 2003
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Alabama
    Pat,
    For what it is worth, I have always considered if any part of the area was actually below grade, it was a basement. I also use the converse rule, if no part is below grade, its not a basement. I am presently building a house where the lot slopes down to the foundation in the rear and about 15 feet away from the house the lot has already sloped up above the foundation. I hope an appraiser won't call it a basement instead of above grade living area! Also, FNMA used to have specific guidelines about what was considered a basement, but I haven't seen or heard anything in years. Anybody know?
    Good luck,
    Phyliss
     
  3. Pat Butler

    Pat Butler Senior Member

    7
    Jan 17, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Illinois
    I agree that if any part if below grade then it is a basement. But what is considering grade when you have two separate areas to measure from because the lot slopes? Should I just be concerned with that portion of the lot that actually touches the 3 sides of the basement? That's the crux of the issue. Thanks Phyliss.
     
  4. Phyliss Crawford

    Phyliss Crawford New Member

    0
    Feb 7, 2003
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Alabama
    Pat, I guess with all my rambling I failed to directly give you my opinion, which is- in deciding if it is basement or above grade I look at where the ground meets the foundation and don't worry about the slope away from the structure (I'm not talking about positive drainage, etc., which is a whole 'nother problem).
     
  5. Richard J. Glesser

    Richard J. Glesser Junior Member

    0
    May 16, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Certified General Appraiser
    State:
    Michigan
    You're right that it appears they started this trilevel at grade. Largest factor in my view is whether the lower level is of equal finish. If so, to me its Level 1, 2, & 3. The photo really makes the case as you have to work pretty hard to get part of that level below grade. I guess everything could be considered below grade and basements if we consider grade to be the top of Pike's Peak.

    (Just had to throw that in to rile up Mike, the old guy.) :usa:
     
  6. Pat Butler

    Pat Butler Senior Member

    7
    Jan 17, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Illinois
    It's interesting in that you enter the house and then have to walk down stairs to this level- that's what complicates the matter. But Richard, your exagerated example actually makes a good point. If we are to be concerned about what grade we measure from, then you're right, we could pick any arbitrary point that is higher and make everything a basement. I think I'll stick with the argument that all three exposed sides are not below grade when compared to the ground that runs up against them....
     
  7. Ryan Nyberg

    Ryan Nyberg Senior Member

    0
    Jan 15, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Gvmt Agency, FNMA, HUD, VA etc.
    State:
    Washington
    Here is my personal opinion on the matter. I consider the grade factor but also consider if you have to walk down stairs to get to a lower level and that level is on a slab then it is considered basement area. I also compare to similar desing style of houses. IE other trilevel's and adjust those in the same manner. For example one county I work in does not seperate out the basement square footage unless it is unfinished. For example a 1 story house with a basement that is finished will be reported as two story and the square footage will be lumped into one area. This makes it impossible to accurately separate out basement finished basemnet areas. In those instances I lump all finished areas into the GLA line on the 1004 and explain that because county records does not seperate these areas and I have not measured the comparables to accurately reflect finished basement sf out I am making all adjustments on one line. As in the case of FNMA Section 405.06.

    So you can deviate from this but you have to describe why and what you did. Other counties list out the tri level's lower level as Basement SF so I can easiser compare these areas to each other.

    Just my 0.02 cents.
     
  8. Walter Kirk

    Walter Kirk Senior Member

    11
    Jun 24, 2003
    Professional Status:
    Licensed Appraiser
    State:
    New Jersey
    The house I grew up in had a ground level basement. It was a townhouse and the front and rear were walk outs. The first level of the house, the basement, was poured concrete and the upper floors were brick. The basement was finished like a basement with a built in garage. My father, like many of the neighbors finished the garage area as a recreation room.

    There was never any question that this area was a basement until out of town real estate salesmen called the area a first floor. If it's built like a basement, is used like a basement and looks like a basement, it's a basement.
     
  9. Tater Salad

    Tater Salad Member

    1
    Jan 15, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Missouri
    Just my opinion...

    In looking at the photo, it appears that the right side of the lower-level foundation (the portion that attaches to the main level) is below grade at the front of the house where it meets the main level, although not exposed.

    When looking at the front-view picture, I'll bet that the lower portion of the right-hand side of the lower level, is concrete and meets dirt.

    In your market, would a prospective buyer look at this lower level more favorably than the lower level of a typical tri-level that is obviously below grade? I've never done one like this, but my personal opinion is that for function and utility, they would be viewed the same.

    For % adjustment sake, I hope it's below grade! Good luck!
     
  10. Pat Butler

    Pat Butler Senior Member

    7
    Jan 17, 2002
    Professional Status:
    Certified Residential Appraiser
    State:
    Illinois
    Carole-- actually, there is a basement below the main level of the house. I didn't want to complicate things further!
     
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