Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Ask Mr. Sun:

Why don’t Las Vegas homes have basements?

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Dear Mr. Sun, How come Las Vegas homes don’t have basements, yet they all have pools? I’ve heard it was because of the hard caliche layer, but that doesn’t stop anyone from digging out a swimming pool. — Russ Morgan

Caliche — the layer of sedimentary rock that loves to mock anyone wielding a shovel in Las Vegas — is the reason basements are a rarity here.

Basements require a lot more excavation than your typical pool, according to experts. They are, after all, part of a home’s foundation.

“With the cost to dig the rock for a basement, it would be less expensive to buy the additional land and expand the home to provide that square footage,” said Dana Wood of Trenching Services Inc., which digs all over the West.

As usual, it comes down to money — price per square foot, in this case.

According to the late, great Las Vegas historian Hal Rothman, the absence of basements in Las Vegas — and their accompanying storage space — made the three-car garage a coveted status symbol.

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