TULSA - Conventional wisdom has it that one can't build basements in Oklahoma because of the clay soil and water table, but experts say conventional wisdom has it wrong.
Modern construction techniques and materials make having a basement safe and affordable, as several experts testified during a hearing of a State House committee last week.
Lawmakers heard from builders, real estate agents, engineers and others who said that the state needs to re-educate the public about basements, possibly even requiring them as part of amended building codes.
"We do have expansive soils, with high shrink/swell potential, but many other states do too, and they have basements," Kennth Luza of the Oklahoma Geological Survey testified. "You can always engineer for some of these problems."
Michael Hancock, a basement contractor, said engineers long ago solved the problems of drainage and water repulsion that kept people from building basements in the 1940's and 50's.
Some of the solutions involve spray-on polymers, French drains, and steel used in construction.
He says his company has installed more than 600 basements, and he has many more under construction.
It's estimated that fewer than one-tenth of one percent of the homes in Moore have basements, and more basements could save lives, the experts said.