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Strict Zoning Laws Are Forcing Homeowners to Expand Underground

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Strict Zoning Laws Are Forcing Homeowners to Expand Underground

Homeowners looking to add square footage to their homes in regions with strict zoning laws are digging deep to create spacious and luxurious 'McBasements'

October 17, 2022
Spacious and bright finished basement with daybed
Image: Stock.adobe.com

For homeowners restricted by zoning regulations, expanding a home’s square footage may mean digging underground to create spacious “McBasements” equipped with luxury amenities. When upscaling basement spaces, designers like Andrew Kotchen, a principal at Workshop/APD, say the possibilities are endless, which is why he’s currently working on a 5,000-square-foot Nantucket home that includes a 10,000-square-foot basement with a basketball court, garage, bedrooms and a wellness space, Realtor.com reports.

City homeowners are also taking advantage of basement additions to maximize living space in an otherwise limited floor plan. The trend is also catching on along coastal markets, where builders are using extreme waterproofing techniques to protect their basement palaces from flooding during coastal storms. 

The island of Nantucket, just 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide, limits home sizes with more than 20 zoning districts. Some areas allow a footprint covering only 2% of the property.

One solution? Go low. “The possibilities are endless,” says Stephen Cheney, owner of Cheney Custom Homes, who is currently constructing a roughly 16,000-square-foot home and guest home with a 5,600-square-foot “bunker” below for a bowling alley, 3-D golf simulator, and spa.

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