Is The Basement Considered A Story?

Whether you're navigating the world of home buying or you are attempting to sell your home, knowing what is considered a story will help guide you through the frustrating market of realty. Basements are found all over the country and come in all sizes and conditions. But, is a basement considered a story? We researched this in detail to help you determine if your basement would be considered a story!

Typically a basement is not considered a story. Although, if more than half of the basement is above ground or curb level, appraisers in some areas may count this as a story. Additionally, in a home built into a hill with a walkout basement, the basement may be considered a story. 

Determining whether your basement is considered a story is tricky, and the condition of the basement will help determine the answer. We've done the research and have unearthed the answers you need regarding basements. Keep reading below; we'll discuss the confusion around what counts as a story. We'll also discuss what makes a basement a livable space and the benefits of having a basement.

Basement rec room with home office desk underneath the stairs, Is The Basement Considered A Story?

Is A Basement A Story?

Appraisers often do not include a basement as a story when listing a home. There are a few exceptions to the rule. If your home is built into the side of a hill and the basement is more than half exposed with its own entrance, some appraisers may consider it a story. But, this is not common. Additionally, if your basement is more than fifty percent above the ground or curb level, it may also be considered a story in some areas. Almost all realtors and appraisers agree that if your basement is not finished or considered livable space, they will not count it as a story despite how far above ground level it may be.

An unfinished walk-out basement in a large two-story or ranch house

What Is Considered A Two Story House?

Generally speaking, a two story house is defined as a home with two full floors above ground. A ranch home with a basement, for example, is not considered a two-story home. A full-floor is defined as having eight-foot walls throughout the entirety of the story. This being said, if your "second floor" has slanted walls, often found in a-frames and completed, livable attics and not full eight-foot walls, it is not considered a story. It would be defined as a 1/2 story.

Beautiful two story suburban home with attached garage

Does A Walkout Basement Count As A Story?

A walkout basement occurs when a home is built into the side of a hill. This is when the basement is exposed fully on one side and underground on the other. Walkouts generally have their own entry and full-size windows. Some appraisers and realtors may consider a walkout basement as a story, but it is not common. The basement must be finished or considered a livable space to even be considered listed as a story.

To quote the Fannie Mae Selling Guide; "For example, a property built into the side of a hill where the lower level is significantly out of ground, the interior finish is equal throughout the house, and the flow and function of the layout is accepted by the local market, may require the gross living area to include both levels. However, in such instances, the appraiser must be consistent throughout the appraisal in his or her analysis and explain the reason for the deviation, clearly describing the comparisons that were made."

What Makes A Basement Livable Space?

If your basement is finished and matches the rest of your above-ground home, it may be considered livable space. Although, this living space will probably not count toward your home's total square footage. To be considered livable space, basements often must meet a minimum height level, have heating, lighting, and finished walls and ceilings. The space should be insulated and waterproof, as well. Finished basements can add tremendous value to your home.

What Is The Benefit Of Having A Basement?

Basements can serve a variety of functions and add extra value to your home. In their simplest form, basements serve as a foundation for a home. But there are so many more uses for this space. Whether you need extra storage space, extra bedrooms, or recreation space, a basement can give you the extra room you need.

Extra Storage Space

If you struggle to find storage space for seasonal decorations, clothes, or recreational equipment, a basement may be the answer to your needs. Even a simple, unfinished basement can provide the increased storage space you desire. You can add shelving to help organize your stored items, making finding what you need a lot easier. If you lack kitchen space, a basement can help you there as well. Your basement storage can double as a pantry, storing excess non-perishable food.

Basement house clutter garage storage

Extra Bedrooms & Bathrooms

Finishing your basement adds tremendous value to your home, and the possibilities are endless. If your family is growing or constantly hosting guests, adding a bedroom or two to your basement can help fill your need for more room. Additionally, you can install an extra bathroom in your basement, providing increased privacy for your guests.

Interior of modern urban Bungalow basement residence with bedroom

Recreation Space

Are you in need of personal space? Maybe a man cave, woman cave, art studio, or a home bar to host friends for the game? Your basement can provide you with some added recreation space. Your space can even hold a pool table or an indoor hot tub. This allows your upstairs living areas to be more spacious while giving you the space for your recreation needs. No room for all the kids' toys? Problem solved! Your basement can serve as a playroom for them, giving you some more peace, quiet, and cleanliness upstairs.

Recently finished residential lower level game room and bar with pool table and stools

Home office

Many people work from home. Carving out a section of your home for office work can be difficult, but abasement can provide you with the perfect space. Not only will you be a floor below your family, giving you some quiet to focus on work, but your basement can provide you with room for all your office needs.

Basement rec room with home office desk underneath the stairs


People all across the country are in areas susceptible to tornadoes. No one wants to be caught in one of these terrible storms. If your in an area prone to twisters, a basement could help save your life. Additionally, if you are looking to put in a safety or panic room, a basement is a great space to build one.

An aerial view of the destruction done by a tornado to a single family house

The Bottom Line

Although most basements do not count as a story, they a great feature in any home. Not only can they serve a variety of functions, but a basement will also add value to your home. Even more, finished basements can provide plenty of opportunities for you and your family.

Before you go, make sure to check these other great articles:

The Purpose Of A Basement (And Why Some States Don’t Have Them)

Can A Basement Protect You From A Nuclear Bomb?

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *