Oregon is a rainy spot and historically most homes were built without basements here. Most homes have crawl spaces that are extremely restrictive for doing any work under the house. It can best be described as spelunking on ones belly or back. My home was built on the ground in 1925, but has since been elevated with an added foundation. There is a vapor barrier on the ground and one can actually kneel in most of the confined spaces.
Most homes on the hillside in Astoria have a basement. Most would be considered as day-light basements. Clever engineering with drainage tiles and interior sump pumps make it all possible.
I really miss having a basement. Just having a set of stairs to access the furnace and under-floor plumbing would be dreamy. I’ve done my best under the two additions I built. I dug them out deep and added a lot of lights and outlets, but it’s the old portion under my sunken living room that is hard to access.
I recently made the crawl to pull some network cable under the living room. It wasn’t pleasant at all. I’ve spent a lot of time under that section of the house as a wire monkey. I’ve run speaker wires, satellite cable, TV cable, phone wire and a heating duct. Each time I hope will be my last. I really feel sorry for people that make a living crawling under people’s homes. The few service people that have been under my house said that it wasn’t bad compared to where they usually go. Many crawl spaces have rodents in various stages of life or decomposition. Some have families of raccoons and skunks and cats living in there. Some don’t have a vapor barrier and the ground is wet and muddy.
A plumber friend said the worst part of his job is working on sewer pipes in a crawl space. He said it would make a vulture vomit.