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So You Thought That Was a Basement?

February 12, 2014

The decision to rate a lower level as a basement instead of a first floor can mean the difference between treating a building as class rated or specifically rated. For an insured, this can have an effect on how their premium is calculated. However, the distinction isn’t always obvious, especially in the hilly Northwest.

Here is a quick guide to how we treat lower levels in our loss cost reports:

  • If the area of the lower level is less than 5% of the area of the first floor, it is not calculated in the total area of the building or considered a basement. It is just considered a utility room which has no bearing on the loss cost.
    • A lower level should be rated as a basement if it is 50% or more below grade and not accessible through a doorway at grade level. By “accessible at grade level,” we mean that the ground and the floor of the lower level are at the same elevation and you can enter the lower level without walking down stairs or a ramp or changing elevation.
  • If the surface area of the walls is more than 50% above ground, the level is treated as a first floor.

Lower floor level


Building inspections

In this case, since you have to go down a ramp to the lower level, rate this as basement.

 If in doubt, feel free to contact us. If you’re a WSRB Subscriber, log in to our website to order an inspection. The cost of Commercial Property Inspections is included in your Subscription; order as many as you want for no additional fees.

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