All good info from each of you. Thanks . . . as to the concern about being in the South, we are located in north central Alabama. I have relatives that live in the same neighborhood and each have a basement. Actually, most homes in this region have them. I've never heard any comments and/or concerns about the soil and possible instability problems. I agree that it will likely not be something that will enhance resale value but is something we both want. We are likely to make this our "for life" residence so we're geared toward making it work for us, period. Also, since we seem to live in tornado valley, the notion of having immediate access to undergroud protection rates very high on the "why" list for this project. We suspect we will need to do heavy investigation into local contractors, their experience and references before we even begin to consider cost. What difference does it make if you get a reasonable price and then have your house collapse underneath you?? Thanks again and anyone else who would like to comment is most welcome to do so.