It’s true. You won’t find many basements in Tucson houses. In fact, in my 40-plus years here (which includes many years of showing houses as a real estate agent) I have only seen one.
Why is this, you wonder? Well I’d always heard it’s because caliche makes it too difficult to dig. However, as I researched this question, a few other possible reasons came up:
1. Our desert soil (if you’re not on a bed of caliche) is too loose to support a deeper underground structure.
2. It’s time intensive, adding roughly one month to the home-building process. Multiply 30 days by all our tract homes and you’ll see how this really adds up.
3. It’s less expensive to build up into a two-story home than it is to build down into the earth.
However, things are looking up… er, down. More and more new-home builders are offering them as options. So if you’re relocating to Tucson and really want one, look around…they’re out there. But you’ll have to look for relatively new houses or old houses in a limited area of town.