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Old 05-05-2014, 01:43 PM   #1
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Question about turning a basement crawlspace into finished area


My house (built in 1928) has a portion of the basement which is an unfinished crawlspace.

The crawlspace is approximately six or seven feet high, and is separated from the finished area of the basement by a concrete wall that may or may not be part of the foundation. There is no bearing wall directly above this portion of the foundation, as it is an open connection on the first floor between the living room and sunroom. The sunroom is original to the house and not added later.

The inside of the crawlspace is a dirt floor only. There is no covering on this floor. The crawlspace has two access openings cut in the wall to the finished areas of the basement, each one is about 1' x 2.5', about five feet off the wall. This crawlspace area, which is approximately 17 x 11, is concrete walls on all sides.

I have been experiencing a good deal of moisture coming into the house from the crawlspace accesses into the finished area due to the dirt floor. There's no groundwater penetration, it's just moisture leaching up through the soil.

An obvious and easy fix is simply to lay down six mil or heavier plastic sheeting on the dirt floor. That would cut off a good deal of the moisture. Ideally, I could also insulate the walls of the crawlspace, but usually that is done with foam boards and I can't get boards in through the small openings. Hiring a spray insulation company is a possible alternative

It occurred to me that I could simply cut a door through the wall from the crawlspace into the finished area where one of those access holes is, and then lay down a concrete floor on top of the dirt floor. I would obviously have to excavate a bit to get to an 8 foot ceiling, maybe also put down 6 inches of pea stone but the dirt is fairly loose and some of it can be compacted instead of removed. If I did that, I would have the opportunity to create a finished space and I could use the space as a workroom for tool stuff.

I'm mindful of the cost and resources involved in recovering what amounts to a large closet in a basement, where I have other things I need to do in the house house. But I'm wondering what might be involved in this job. It seems the steps are: cut a door in the concrete wall, I would probably have to install a steel lintel over that door to ensure the wall did not collapse, excavate a bit of the floor, lay down some plastic underlayment, and pour concrete over reinforcing mesh. I could then bring in foam boards and insulate the walls, and if I want to get serious about it, frame out walls and put drywall up--though I don't think I would want to go that far with it as I'm not concerned with the cosmetic finished nature of the space and if it was roughly finished that would be fine too.

I'm just wondering if anyone who has more experience with construction and I do has any thoughts on this before I start pursuing this seriously. Who would I even talk to about this? Is there a concrete finishing and cutting company? Is that the type of firm would hire to do this work for you?

Any guidance appreciated as I'm thinking about this. If anyone has any idea on costs I would welcome that also.


Last edited by phil_thehouse; 05-05-2014 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 05-05-2014, 03:01 PM   #2
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Question about turning a basement crawlspace into finished area


That is not a Crawlspace at 6-7 feet high. That is what is called a Cellar. BTW. How do you access this space currently?

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Old 05-05-2014, 03:07 PM   #3
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Question about turning a basement crawlspace into finished area


A structural engineer is the one that I would consult first, then follow the recommendations they have.

Where are you located?

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Old 05-05-2014, 03:55 PM   #4
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Question about turning a basement crawlspace into finished area


Located in Long Island. I call it a crawlspace but cellar does seem more accurate.
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Old 05-05-2014, 04:21 PM   #5
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Question about turning a basement crawlspace into finished area


Most likely the original footprint of the home. Can you post pictures of this space.
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