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butchbs1985 05-14-2011 02:53 PM

Help with finishing my basement
First post here. Lots of great information on this site. Here's the situation:
1927 house (860 Sq ft. main floor). Small basement that I want to half finish so I can move our office down there and create a small play room. (Expecting our first child and the current office will become the nursery).

The problems:
1. Basement floor is quite uneven (1" off in some places).
2. Basement ceiling is LOW. 6' under the support beam / retrofit forced air AC and Heat.

As I see it, if I don't underpin the foundation, my only option is to accept that I won't be able to sell it as usable space and just finish it to suit my needs for the next 3 - 5 years. (Ceiling is too low to meet code).

My proposed solutions:
- Problem 1 Option 1: Self leveling Cement with flooring over it. Expensive as I'll need several bags of it to accomplish a uniform surface.
- Problem 1 Option 2: Use some 1 x 2" stringers along the floor and shim them out to level. Cost effective but would loose at least 1.5" of height. (1x plus 1/2" sheeting).
- Problem 1 Option 3: Buy carpet and a THICK carpet pad. Wouldn't be perfect but would be comfortable and should look OK. I can creatively install the baseboards to make it look level-ish.

- Problem 2 Option 1: Underpin the foundation and dig out the floor.
- Question: Can I do this to only half the basement?
- Problem 2 Option 2: Jack up the house and raise the basement / foundation walls. I've seen it done but doubt it's practical.

What are your thoughts? Where can I get the best bang for my buck as cost is certainly an option. If I do make the ceiling meet code, is there likely to be a return on investment?


joecaption 05-15-2011 03:42 AM

You would need far more then a few bags to get a floor that's out of level that much. And once you did all that your still to low to call it added living space. It would also need a point of egress.
Lifting a house that size would cost at least $8,000 plus all the added cost for foundation work, wiring and plumbing, and the home would be unusable for at least a week. After all that there would be almost no pay back on your investment.
Adding on to the home is what I'd be looking into first. If it's done right the old office could be advertized as an added bedroom. If your on a septic system your local zoning and health dept. may ask you to up grade your septic hen adding a bedroom.

DrHicks 05-15-2011 06:25 AM

Joe is right about the costs and problems. Too much money for too little bang. For instance, the amount of self-leveling concrete you need will probably be 3-4 times what you think you need (maybe more), and the stuff is expensive!

Also, you will run into countless problems (as well as back-breaking work) if you go to tear out the floor & dig it down to a lower level.

Personally, I'd go with Option #3. Carpet. Is it going to be perfect? No, not even close. But it'll be cheap and functional. And it'll make your basement feel a little warmer.

Sometimes "okay" is as good as you're going to get.

nealtw 05-15-2011 12:30 PM

Everyone talks about the cost of concrete by the bag. Your local readymix people can deliver and with volume they are quite often cheaper. Yes they do have self levaling.

butchbs1985 05-16-2011 02:50 PM

Thanks for the responses. I'll call the local concrete companies after I figure out a ballpark on how much I'll need. I honestly hadn't thought about that. Do you think they would have a mix that can be applied that thin?

Even with the low ceiling, I'd like it to be nice since whenever I do sell the house, although it may not count as usable space, it will still be a nice perk if they are like me when I bought the house. (first time homeowner looking for good community over a large house).

butchbs1985 05-16-2011 03:08 PM

joecaption: Your option about adding a room is definitely a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, it's already a small lot and I'd hate to cut in to my driveway space. If my lot was another 50' deep, that would absolutely be the way to go. Maybe someday I'll convince the neighbor behind me who owns the second half of my 'lot' to sell it back to me. The people who lived in my house before me sold it to the previous owners of that house.

yura 05-16-2011 10:03 PM

Check: .....................

butchbs1985 05-17-2011 08:45 AM

Here's the response from my local ready mix company:

"Hi Brian –

For your application, I’d recommend using the self leveling bags instead of anything we could deliver. We don’t really have a mix that would bond to the existing slab. The self leveling bags should have that in already. You’d be way better off doing it yourself money wise as well. Thanks for the inquiry though."

Looks like I'll be buying a corded drill and a mixing attachment :-)

nealtw 05-17-2011 07:48 PM

We have have 4 companys here and 3 have it. That is still the way I would go, renting a small mixer might be faster.

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