Basket ball court under the garage


Not sure if this an appropriate question for this forum but I figured I would try. I'm actually an Engineer and not an architect so I'm looking for some unbiased and modern opinion. Here goes....


So I have been planning a new house to build and I've decided I want to have an indoor basketball court. I figured the options would be, basement level court the included the same are on the first floor for the high ceiling, having a portion of the basement extra deep with stairs from the basement that go down another level, or finally my favorite.... a double deep basement under the garage (quietest scenario). Since I don't deal with these types of things in my profession as an engineer I figured I would join an architecture forum in order to learn as much as I could.


I hope to hear from many of you with opinions on the most cost effective way to achieve my goals. Thanks!!



Feb 11, 14 10:37 am
Non Sequitur

I trust you're not much of a structural P.eng because supporting a garage full of cars above a (I assume) column free basketball court is not an easy thing. There is a reason people put these in their own hanger-style auxiliary buildings.

You will need to hire someone to look at this, there are alot more at stake then you are aware of. I would be interested to know where in the civilized world can a residential house have a multi-level basement... I smell one helluva egress problem, not to mention soil or ground-water issues.

Feb 11, 14 10:48 am

I would do a seperate ground level building with some way to open court to outside.   Probably cheaper and nicer in the end.  I would assume you have a good size site?  If height is the issue you can also opt to do a half submerged court with celestory windows and a stair well entry.  The roof line can appear flush with house or garage.  

Feb 11, 14 11:33 am

A 20+' basement will be very expensive and will require a substantially deep garage floor with huge beams to span the width of the court and support cars.  Thats just crazy. Keep it simple.  Your garage can instead be really long with a truss pitched roof structure that would extend over court and garage.  The court could be sunken 10' with a 12' - 16' roof giving you a 22-26' high space.  You can have a window from back of garage looking down into the court and a patio on the other side that steps down to court leaving the far end operable to open up on nice days.  You dig?

Feb 11, 14 11:51 am

Or even better... 20' long steps that lead to a 10' below grade sunken courtyard on the side at mid court with a huge garage door to open up.  The steps could be like subterranean bleachers.   

Feb 11, 14 11:59 am

bomb shelter basketball court!

Feb 11, 14 12:06 pm

put it on the roof, dude! 

Feb 11, 14 12:11 pm

seriously. with the loading that must be assumed for the cars, why wouldn't you put them on the ground and put the thing that has a significantly lower loading on top? 

this post also reminds me of the movie 'the door in the floor', based on john irving's book 'widow for one year'. the hidden space was a handball court, wasn't it? 

Feb 11, 14 12:14 pm

If you really like shooting hoop, you should make it an integral part of the living space with natural light. It will make the house a unique expression of your identity. As raw (reasonably) space it is not that expensive to build, can be used for multiple purposes and can be master planned to easily infill conventional living spaces later for resale. Consider it an unfinished 2-storey wing.

I'd do this in a heartbeat before dumping a small fortune into a basement. That is simply a bad investment.

Feb 11, 14 12:25 pm

if it was a walk-out site, i.e. the court was a way of mitigating a hillside condition, it might make some sense...

Feb 11, 14 12:46 pm

I've put an indoor basketball court (well...half court) above a four-car garage for a residence before. The best thing to use for the floor system is hollow-core concrete slabs, though a composite pan deck works too (though you'll have to fireproof the steel).

The excavation and parking deck structure for putting the court underground seems like a really expensive way to go. Of course, you'd want to use hollow-core slabs for that too, but the hole will be expensive to dig and waterproof.

Feb 11, 14 1:08 pm

The loads from a car isn't as bad as you'd think.  Don't let that bother you.  Obviously higher than normal residential loads, but it's about on par with commercial office space.  I've put garages over basements.  Not a big deal.   

But structurally, two things will kill you.  As someone mentioned:  Clearspan across a basketball court with any load is a big deal.  Second is lateral loads of a deep foundation and probable waterproofing & ventilation.  That will create expensive structural solutions.

Another killer is moisture barrier/water proofing the garage.  You don't want your dripping car to ruin your hardwood court below.  So there's more cost to deal with that issue; membrane, drainboards, collection system, etc..  Mechanical systems and ventilation will also get tricky with anything below grade.   

Feb 11, 14 5:05 pm
Saint in the City

I'm imaging the feeling of shooting hoops, alone, several stories beneath the surface of the earth, in a windowless room with fresh air mechanically pumped in...

... that echoing sound is driving me nuts...  is it the relentless pounding of the ball hitting the floor?  No, OMG, it's the sound of my own hearbeat ! ! !   i'll kill ya !   I'LL KILL ALL OF YA ! ! ! !

But yeah, it's a cool idea.  Let me know how I can help.

Feb 12, 14 9:27 am

that sunken orange space that leads to a partially submerged building (in Steven Wards pic) is kinda what I was getting at.  It would keep the roof line low while still giving you the required height for the court and allowing for some natural light.  I also agree with Miles that you should make it integral to the living space...It should have some tectonic consistency with the house...

Feb 12, 14 10:20 am

Be careful or you might end up with this.


Feb 12, 14 11:02 am

I'm surprised everyone acts like this has never been done. I got the idea from house plans on line and from pictures of people that did it before. I know they all have there own challenges but a separate building requires its own hvac and complete insulation package. I've also seen lots of garages over basements and it doesn't seem like that would be a big deal. double deep basement has issues mention but is it enough to overcome the cost of the extra roof needed to cover the court if it was basement and first floor? I guess I was hoping for more factual and creative input than "your nuts" lol

Feb 13, 14 3:37 pm

Clearly, nobody here knows their ass from your elbow. You're an engineer - what do you need us for?

You can't go wrong with value engineering - knock yourself out. Or maybe try the forums.

Feb 13, 14 3:46 pm

back in my day, we didn't need basements under garages for basketball.  we had a backboard and hoop stuck in the ground next to the single-wide driveway with cracked concrete.  and we liked it.  we didn't complain about how the driveway was cracked or wasn't the size of a full court (or even half-court).  we went outside, and we didn't complain about the heat or the cold either.  we certainly didn't ask people on internet forums how to get a basement basketball court either.  we were happy with what we had.

Feb 13, 14 3:51 pm
Non Sequitur

I believe cracked concrete is a premium upgrade these days. Damn hipsters.

Feb 13, 14 3:54 pm

do you snort the stuff....or stuff it up your ashe?

Feb 13, 14 4:28 pm
Non Sequitur

I don't think the OP ever said he/she was a bright engineer but anyways, you get what you pay for. myDownfall, if you ask for free design advice, don't be surprised to get nonsense in return.

Feb 13, 14 4:39 pm

myDownfall, go for it then.  Build a 4 story underground garage.  Put a baseball field under there too.  Shit why not just build the entire house underground so you can live like the dirty little troll you are.

Feb 13, 14 4:57 pm

C'mon now, be nice. He can't help it, he's an engineer.

Feb 13, 14 5:13 pm

It might be Urban Yankee Myth, but it has been told there is a guy who sells discount furniture here in New England who has a basket ball court as part of his House.  I recall talking to a contractor who drilled  the radiant heating wells for the house.  I can't recall but they sunk a lot of wells because the place was just grossly massive in scale.  But hey the guy could go shoot hoops when ever he wanted.

Feb 13, 14 5:24 pm

I'm sure he would tell you how he did it.

Feb 13, 14 5:26 pm

I agree with curtkram.  go play outside like a real man!  If it gets cold put on a fucking jacket and stop being such a fancy little yuppy.

Feb 13, 14 5:38 pm

and if you have money burning a hole in your pocket build a shelter for wayward architects.

Feb 13, 14 5:43 pm

an underground shelter that is...wouldn't want them getting out.

Feb 13, 14 5:50 pm

^-- or hire an architect to design you an underground basketball court.  without trying to push their fees down.

Feb 13, 14 6:04 pm

Maybe he could use this as a model:

2 workers hurt in court's roof collapse

Feb 13, 14 6:24 pm

Basements ARE put under garages all the time.  However, those basements have intermediate columns (a significant inconvenience when playing basketball).  Also, they don't have the cathedral ceiling height you would need for basketball.  Also, they aren't double decked as you propose.  What is the intermediate level going to be used for by the way.

And for God's sake, NO, the savings from less roofing is not going to offset the cost of digging halfway to China, building ultra-reinforced foundation walls, mitigating underground water, blasting bedrock, etc.  And what makes you think you won't need to heat the space?  I suggest you print out your online house plans and have at it.  You might be able to get some additional designs from the plan books at the grocery store, and I'll bet your barber's brother-in-law is a construction expert who will put you on the right track. 

Feb 14, 14 12:50 pm
Saint in the City

I actually love crazy ideas -- the crazier the better.  Trouble is, most people get me all excited about building something well left of center, and then about a year later after I haven't heard from them at all I find out they've opted for the awesomeness of a pre-eng building package.   This all kinda sounds like that.

Feb 14, 14 12:58 pm

^  Absolutely.  You can do anything if you throw enough money at it, but this is one of the crazier ideas I've ever heard of.  Most people, even members of the More-Money-Than-Brains club, eventually dig out their calculators and do the math.  An architect is always wise to avoid these kinds of hair-brained schemes, since when the thing isn't built the client is going to say that he doesn't owe the fee because the solution was completely impractical and unaffordable, even if the archie tried to warn them in the beginning.

Feb 14, 14 1:40 pm

Saint - It's a widely known fact that crazy ideas originate from right of center.

geezer, I think the term is "hare-brained".

Feb 14, 14 1:48 pm

While not naming names, I have a current client who's ideas make this subterranean basketball court look positively pedestrian. Guys, money is no object to these people, and I think we should feed their need. Why not put a basketball court under the garage? 

Let's face it, it's no more wacky than the things we put under large buildings (massive mechanical rooms, parking garages, loading docks, etc. 

OP: happy to do this for you. My prices start same as Miles: $200 / hour. 

Feb 14, 14 2:19 pm

when you say money is no object, that just refers to the construction cost of the basketball court.  it's fairly apparent the cost of a decent architect, engineer and labor for the contractor were too much and had to be VEed out.  the guy isn't rich because he's lazy and had everything handed to him all his life.  he's rich because he's smarter, works harder, and is better bred than the rest of us.  clearly people with basketball courts under their garage know better than their architects and engineers and contractors.  i'm referring more to Mile's article rather than the OP, but then sometimes you have to wonder why this guy thinks it would be a fairly simple feat to dig a basketball court.

Feb 14, 14 2:32 pm

gruen - you're undercutting me?!

LOL It's a race to the bottom.

Feb 14, 14 4:27 pm

Heck, why not make the floor of the court retract and expose an Olympic sized swimming pool as well while you're at it. I think the idea of setting it up as an accessory building is more feasible, you could even use an underground tunnel to connect it if you still want the subterranean experience. 

Feb 14, 14 9:29 pm

I have no hair on my brain...I blew all my hair away with a hair dryer....years ago.

Feb 15, 14 9:18 am
Miles did you raise your rates for the new year? Last I checked the going rate for correct answers was $200/hr, snarky answers still free. ;)
Feb 15, 14 9:58 am

snook, you need a rabbit hat.

Feb 15, 14 11:16 am

sorry I asked.......

Feb 16, 14 8:26 pm

Since your cup was already full it was pointless to ask. 

Feb 16, 14 8:50 pm
I feel like an ass saying this, but I'm working in 2 separate houses with what is proposed. Both have walk out conditions. Both have windows overlooking the court from the basement level. Now, this isn't "full court", I'm not sure if that's proposed, enough space for the 3pt line to fit. Hollow core for the garage above. I think it's ridiculous, but if it's what the client wants.

Heck, the client just expended one wall 8ft so that he could have more room for the 3 pt line.

When "money ain't a thang" you can do it...

Like I said, I feel like an ass for saying "I'm doing it now..." when everyone had already established how dumb and ridiculous the idea is...

I should note, the lots are huge. One of the clients loves across the street from the house they are going toove into with an actual full size court in their backyard. The other has a great half size in the driveway. People really love basketball...

Anyway, please proceed, and include me as the ass that I am for making the comment... Ha!
Feb 16, 14 9:15 pm

WOW signing into this forum was WAY more difficult than building a basketball court below a garage.

what a bunch of nervous nancies !

tall walls and precast - just finished one (under a garage) NO problem !

just drawing one RIGHT NOW - it is on another screen - NO problem !!!!

I say go-for-it !

Mar 20, 17 5:27 pm

Should I? Really? Go for it?

Non Sequitur
This is 3 years old. Pretty sure the high school project is done and over by now.
Mar 20, 17 5:32 pm

This thread is perfect.

The engineer asks 'how?', the architect asks 'why?'

Just about the best summary of the two professions I've ever heard.

Mar 20, 17 7:01 pm

I typically just watch basketball on a laptop PC. It saves everyone money.

Mar 20, 17 8:01 pm
Non Sequitur

but basketball is not hockey, so... why bother?

it's all the same, stuffing balls/pucks

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