Here in Los Angeles basements are very rare, there being no frostline.
What IS common is to build about 16" above grade and have crawl spaces.
The 2008 code stirred up some controversy by questioning the way that NM B is used in crawl spaces (damp location? If the crawl space is damp, the house will be rotting away) and how the cable is supported.
What is the latest on that? Did the 2011 code clear that up somewhat?