Basements: The underground trend in adding space to homes

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Basements: The underground trend in adding space to homes
Most homes in Southern California don’t have basements, in part because of the expense. But now the appeal of underground space is growing, such as here in Emily and Etan Cohen’s basement in their Beverlywood home.

Homeowners Melissa and Trent Overholt and Emily and Etan Cohen faced a similar problem. The Overholts, who own a half lot a block from the sand in Manhattan Beach, had a growing family that no longer fit in their 550-square-foot home. With three children, the Cohens, who both work at home in Beverlywood, needed decent office space for Etan, a director and screenwriter, and an art studio for Emily.

Their common solution: Build a basement.

Interest in basements, primarily in affluent areas, has come and gone during the last few decades in Southern California. The most recent wave of activity started about five to six years ago, after the city of Los Angeles enacted an anti-mansionization ordinance that limits a house’s square footage to a percentage of lot size but exempts basement space from the total. The Los Angeles City Council is considering closing certain loopholes in the ordinance that allowed “bonus” square footage if a builder met certain conditions. With the exception of one neighborhood, Los Feliz’s the Oaks, basement square footage would remain exempt. Other cities have taken steps to curb house size as well. []

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