What Does a "Partial" Basement Mean? the Realator Says It's Unusable??

Updated on February 23, 2012
A.F. asks from Lees Summit, MO
15 answers

Our real estate agent says that the house we're looking out has a partial basement with access from outside, although we didn't see anything that looked like a cellar?? She says it is unusable. I'm confused. We're just looking for something incase of a tornado, we live in missouri..

Also, the house was built in 1939 so does that mean that it's probably a dirt floor?
We saw something under the deck that looked like a concrete slab that was there but the deck is over it. Maybe that was access to the basement and they built the deck on it? I'm just confused why it's unusable!

How many of you live in missouri/kansas/tornado areas that don't have a basement? what do you do in that situation?


For those of you that have a partial basement that isn't finished, especially with dirt floors- do you have mold problems, leaking, or see a lot of bugs in your house? IM NOT A BUG PERSON!!

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answers from Dallas on

You need to see it. I would assume it's not fit for living space, but maybe storage or shelter. Ask to see the area.

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answers from St. Louis on

I would ask your agent but it is probably a cellar or something like it. When they say unusable they tend to mean you cannot finish it into living areas. You can still hide there if a tornado is coming. :)

Okay so my cube neighbor is an agent and I asked her. She said it is not a common term and could mean anything so you need to ask your agent to clarify. He first reaction is it is a cellar that access has been closed off so it cannot be used. But she also added it could be filled with dead bodies....yeah she has the same sense of humor I do.

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answers from Wausau on

We had a partial basement in our old home, and although you could use part of it, the rest was more of a crawl space, with it's own enterance from the garage.. it was prob only 3ft tall, because it was built above ground when the house had an addition added to it. Also my current home was built in 1928 and I have a stone foundation but full concrete basement. Your going to have to go and look at the house.
*** Oh and just an fyi sometimes "wording" in the paperwork can be technical, but not mean as we would assume. For instance my house now says it's a 1 3/4 bathroom home. Well there is one full bathroom, but in the basement a toilet in like a closet and a shower head tapped into a water pipe with a curved rod hanging from a bar around it, right s you get into the basement... out in the open!! Needless to say we ripped the curtain down and the toilet in the closet is only used in emergencies, lol!!

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answers from Washington DC on


It seems the idea of a partial basement isn't the same. So I googled it. this is what I got.


If you are moving forward with the house - when the inspection is done - look into it. ASK the Realtor why it is considered unusable. It's OKAY to ask questions!!!

I consider a partial basement to be a space (from 1/4 to 3/4 the width of the house) under the home that has concrete walls and if landscaping permits - a door to access the outside. If not, then it will have limited access windows.

Unusable to me? would put me off. I would want to see it and figure out why they consider it partial and unusable. A full basement, to me, would be the full size of the house.

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answers from Roanoke on

We have a partial basement. It's a crawl space, dirt floor under our house. You can walk mostly upright down there, but about 25% of the crawl space is filled in, so you can only walk in 75% of it. It's a little scary down there, but we store lawn junk in it.

Added: We don't have any mold problems or leaking. Our house was built in 1915. There are some spiders down there, but we don't see any more in our house than we've seen in any other place we've ever lived. There are companies that will cover the walls and floors with tarps and insulate, etc. But we haven't looked into it yet.

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't know, but reading your responses it doesn't sound very good. The realtor didn't show it to you? You need to see every part of the house you are considering.

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answers from Chicago on

I would go and take a look at the house and then determine if it's the right house for you. Also try and talk to some of the neighbor's in the area, thats what we did when we purchased our home, they will fill you in on the tornado's. We get tornado's here too and the kid's and I will all go into our basement, so I guess having a basement is something you would want. It's also nice for storage too! Good Luck!

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answers from Detroit on

Its probably considered a crawl space, meaning its 4ft or under. You can use it in case of a tornado. She didnt show you how to access it?

If you dont have a basement in that situation, you go to the middle part of the house in a doorway, but if it were me, I would go somewhere else, that had a basement.

Personally, living in MO, I would never buy a house without a basement, for safety and resale.

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answers from Dallas on

You need to see it. I would assume it's not fit for living space, but maybe storage or shelter. Ask to see the area.

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answers from Kansas City on

I live in Missouri and all we have is a crawl space under the house. If we have a tornado, we plan on getting every body together in the center of the house away from windows, and holding on tight! Luckily, I have lived in this town for 30 years, and we haven't had a tornado yet. As for the house you are looking into buying, I would ask to see the basement before you go any further. If there is only an outside entrance, I wouldn't be that thrilled, because that means you have to go out into the nasty weather to get to safety, and that doesn't seem very safe to me.

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answers from Atlanta on

if the Realtor didn't show it to you - RUN!

To me, a partial basement is not a shelter during a tornado. It's a space that encompasses about half of the house and most likely you cannot stand up.

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answers from Richmond on

Run away, run far, far away!

1- I have a partial basement. We call it 'creepy basement'; most would call it a cellar, all would agree that it's a piss poor excuse for anything.

2- Most 'partials' are unfinished, flood, and let in creepy crawlys. We have 'cave' or 'camel' crickets? Have you seen those ugly f*ckers? They're awful.

3- BLACK MOLD. Partials are a breeding ground for black mold. Enough said.

You don't HAVE to have a basement to have a safe place from a tornado. The lowest, most inner part of the house is most safe, away from windows. So, if you have a closet under a central staircase or a bathroom in the middle of the house, you're good!

And if you don't already know, small kiddos should be strapped into their car seats in your 'safe place'... this way, even if the house flies away, your child will be much, MUCH safer in their car seat!

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answers from La Crosse on

It could be that only part of the house has a basement under it or that its partially finished.. maybe dirt floor, then the walls but its not intended for storage or use like a finished basement would be.

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answers from Kansas City on

make friends with the neighbors :) seriously!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Could be a dirt crawl space--like under the house--or part of the house.



answers from Topeka on

We live in Kansas and don't have a basement. I hate basements because they are creepy to me. However, all of our neighbors have basements and most of them are retired and don't ever go anywhere. If we were to have a tornado and thought we could make it, we'd run to the house next door. Otherwise, we'd hunker down in the bathroom....it has no windows.

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