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phoray 12-20-2013 08:57 AM

Basement Finishing Plan

I uploaded an image I made in Paint of my basement. The basement is 980 square feet with absolutely no finishing touches. No flooring, no insulation anywhere, no interior walls.

Comparables in my neighborhood are difficult to work with. Lots of old homes; 25 k dilapidated homes are on sale a block or two away from 115k well maintained homes. I just bought mine in June for 52k but it was poorly sold in that there were a lot of small simple fixes that could have gotten her a better price. The addition of one wall to return a bedroom back into being a bedroom for example. Who wants a one bed one bath two floor house? So no one came out to look at it in the first place, it sat on the market over a year, and the lady just wanted to get rid of her mother's estate so she could move back to Texas. So I consider myself to have gotten a really good deal.

It is possible I am moving in 2.5-3 years or not at all for many years. So, I'm doing renovations with re sale value in mind while hopefully getting what I would want out of a long term house.

It's a working class family neighborhood but not suburbia by any means; upper middle class are living elsewhere.

I have the upper floor updates pretty well in mind. But the basement throws me some.

It's a basement with current history of wetness. I'm going to do some exterior stuff and an interior water collection system to make it a dry basement. But that doesn't take care of the chill. I've been in basements nearby with carpet and floor vents and it just doesn't cut out the fact that it's downright chilly when the vents aren't blowing. Also, I hate carpet. hate hate hate it. I know carpet would be one of the cheaper options, but I want to go the route of a radiant floor hydro system.

It what concerns me. It's a long rectangle, with the support beams off center and odd niches of space. One niche is under the stairwell, the other niche is where they included "under the front porch" as basement. Also, there is a furnace, water heater, and non functional chimney sort of in the middle of it all, annoyingly enough. So one of my layout considerations is that those three things and the sump pump would be inside of an unfinished utility room.

Then I was thinking luxury bathroom and one bedroom with the utility room in between them. And an open office/living space on the stairwell side of the the rectangle of the basement.

Another layout I've considered is a jack and jill bathroom, non luxury, between potentially two bedrooms and a living space on the stair well side. I'm probably going to take out the chimney either way, but it would be required in this layout plan.

There are some 4 bedroom houses in the neighborhood, but not very many, and I think by the time a family needs 4 bedrooms, they are likely to just upgrade into another neighborhood. The 1st floor bathroom is very basic, and can't be adjusted much at all in size. I'm really leaning towards a 3 Bed, 2 bath, with utility room. And the bathroom downstairs being a spacious luxury type situation.

At the same time, both of these layouts could be very poor due to my lack of imagination. I can't imagine how else it could be.

And maybe a uninspiring 4th small bedroom would get me a better return than a luxury bath in the basement. But then I read that nobody wants to live in a basement and two bedrooms downstairs is irrelevant. But I have some good sized windows as the basement is 1/3 to half above ground.

Too much info saturation at this point!


P.S. I have to make choices now about drying the basement, and this future lay out may determine whether I move a sump pump and a water heater as well as remove the chimney the water heater is venting although the finishing is a year off, the drying is not and I gotta make decisions.

joecaption 12-20-2013 09:15 AM

90% of water proofing should be done outside, not inside.
What's the ceiling height now.
City sewer or septic.
When you start adding bedrooms the septic plan comes into play and your going to have to go through the health dept. as well as the building dept.
What form of egress do you have? If a basement is used for living space you going to have to deal with that.
It's easy to over remodel and never be able to get any pay back due to the area the house is in so keep that in mind.
May want to consult with a trusted realtor in your area as to what would make the home more saleable.

phoray 12-20-2013 09:28 AM

I called it water collection, not water proofing. I understand that water proofing can only come from not allowing water in in the first place. But I'm very close to neighbors on the side, don't have much of a slope to work with as I would like, and there is sidewalk I would have to tear up. The repairs I plan to do will relieve the wetness, but not cure it and I've decided I need to have a water collection system in place to ensure the finishing of the basement is not ruined in places by flash flood rains.

City sewer. I'm assuming you meant adding bathrooms would involve the health dept, not the bedroom. Thanks for the tip.

the basement has it's own door 4 steps of stairs from the basement floor. I do plan to enlarge any bedroom window (if local law states I must) to allow for an egress window but I think their current size is acceptable.

I know it's easy to over remodel, but the basement needs to be finished to make it sell at all IMO. I consider having got the house for 10k less than it's real value due to a desperate sale. I have a great interest rate of 3.5%, and I would want to make the changes anyway if I remained living here permanently. I guess what I'm saying is that considering all points and that I'm doing the work myself, I can put 20k in and actually profit 10k over that for doing the work myself as a best case scenario. But I'm really just hoping to come out EVEN or slightly less and have an easy sell. In it's current state, it is obviously not an easy sell...or it wouldn't have remained on the market for over a year.

Gary in WA 12-20-2013 01:14 PM

The window egress is easy to check; measure the actual opening to the outside with the window open, (usually) 44" off finished floor, compare to chart here;

The insulation for Zone 4; IMO, R-15- rock wool, up against your drainage mat on the interior of concrete wall. No air spaces for convective loops. Air seal the basement; all wiring/plumbing holes trough the plate/floor above, caulk the sill plate joint to concrete, caulk the rim joist joints and use rock wool there after 1/2" fb;


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