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butchbs1985 05-14-2011 04:31 PM

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?

Thanks,
-Brian

bluebird5 05-14-2011 11:20 PM

whats the budget. You say the self leveling compound is expensive but then talk about jacking up your whole house to lay more block and raise the headroom. That is of coarse the best fix assuming your home is structrually sound. Cheapeast thing to do is self level the floor. even if you spend a grand on leveling compound it is worlds cheaper than jacking up that house. If I could make it work the way it is, I would just fix the floor. Or just do part of the basement and leave the rest alone.

Ron6519 05-15-2011 08:32 AM

I'd do a Radon test in the basement before finishing it.
Ron

butchbs1985 05-15-2011 11:10 AM

Budget: Ideally between 5 - 7,000 (just finish what I have). This is cash on hand.
If the ROI is acceptable, I am considering doing one of the ideal fixes (jacking the house / underpinning). No idea on the cost involved but this would have to be funded by an equity loan.

Radon test: Though I assume the risk is quite low (My family has done tests on other houses in the local area all of which come back well below safety thresholds as defined by the EPA), I will pick up a test and send it out on Monday. I don't believe that the home inspector deemed it necessary when we purchased the house so one hasn't been done. I later found that the home inspector was a joke and pretty much took me for my $$ and returned nothing valuable but that's another story and partially my fault as a new homeowner.

After talking to family / friends, I'm probably going to try and estimate how much self leveling I'll need and go that way. I'll be able to re-route some ducts and plumbing to get rid of most of the current head-bangers in the center of the space. The only protrusion will be the center support beam and a bulkhead along the wall where I'll relocate the former items.

Probably belongs in the flooring forums but any insight on the best way to ensure that the self leveling compound adheres to the existing cement? Most instructions suggest that the cement be porous but the existing floor doesn't appear to be very much so. Other instructions say to use the cement primer / adhesive which I would certainly plan on going with.

Thanks!

Ron6519 05-15-2011 11:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by butchbs1985 (Post 648283)
Budget: Ideally between 5 - 7,000 (just finish what I have). This is cash on hand.
If the ROI is acceptable, I am considering doing one of the ideal fixes (jacking the house / underpinning). No idea on the cost involved but this would have to be funded by an equity loan.

Radon test: Though I assume the risk is quite low (My family has done tests on other houses in the local area all of which come back well below safety thresholds as defined by the EPA), I will pick up a test and send it out on Monday. I don't believe that the home inspector deemed it necessary when we purchased the house so one hasn't been done. I later found that the home inspector was a joke and pretty much took me for my $$ and returned nothing valuable but that's another story and partially my fault as a new homeowner.

After talking to family / friends, I'm probably going to try and estimate how much self leveling I'll need and go that way. I'll be able to re-route some ducts and plumbing to get rid of most of the current head-bangers in the center of the space. The only protrusion will be the center support beam and a bulkhead along the wall where I'll relocate the former items.

Probably belongs in the flooring forums but any insight on the best way to ensure that the self leveling compound adheres to the existing cement? Most instructions suggest that the cement be porous but the existing floor doesn't appear to be very much so. Other instructions say to use the cement primer / adhesive which I would certainly plan on going with.

Thanks!

I've used the self leveling material on a few jobs. Expensive for large surfaces. Priming the concrete is pretty simple and in some cases comes with the product in a kit(Latacrete 86). I put porcelain tile over most of the compounds dating back 10 years so, no problem with adhesion.
Ron

butchbs1985 05-15-2011 02:46 PM

The Radon test takes 4 days so It'll go out after that. I pulled the ceiling tiles and think that I'll also clean up my plumbing / electrical then sheet the ceiling to gain another few inches in the rest of the space. It looks much nicer even after pulling the tiles.

Ron, thanks for the info on the self leveling. At this point, I'm pretty much set on that.

butchbs1985 05-15-2011 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ron6519 (Post 648294)
I've used the self leveling material on a few jobs. Expensive for large surfaces. Priming the concrete is pretty simple and in some cases comes with the product in a kit(Latacrete 86). I put porcelain tile over most of the compounds dating back 10 years so, no problem with adhesion.
Ron

I haven't seen Latacrete around. Any idea where to get it? Looks like Lowes carries their Grout and such but not the LatiLevel products. Thanks!

Ron6519 05-15-2011 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by butchbs1985 (Post 648491)
I haven't seen Latacrete around. Any idea where to get it? Looks like Lowes carries their Grout and such but not the LatiLevel products. Thanks!

My Lowes carries it. Home Depot carries another brand. You should be able to pick it up at a tile supply store or maybe a Mason's Supply yard.
Ron

bluebird5 05-15-2011 04:08 PM

well HENRY makes one, custom building products makes QUICK LEVEL OR LEVELQUICK (not sure..lol), Laticrete makes one, MAPEI makes one. Whatever you get. Some are only rated to build up to an inch to nothing. otheres are rated for 2 inches to nothing. If you have to build it up over an inch, obviously you cannot use a self lever only rated for 1 inch. I would post this in the ceramic tile and stone forum. Bud Cline or Jazman can lead you in th right direction. I am sure there are other wonderful tile guys with accurate information out there, but these 2 just came to mind.

butchbs1985 06-03-2011 07:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ron6519 (Post 648207)
I'd do a Radon test in the basement before finishing it.
Ron

So... The first Radon test came back 4.2. This test was sitting on a shelf.
As the lab then recommends a second test be taken and I'm impatient, I bought a Safety Siren tester and had it sitting on the floor. The Safety Siren is reading 13.2 after two days.

Question: What height am I to be testing at? Some sites don't specify and some say between 20 and 40 inches. Keeping the house sealed as all the instructions say isn't practical as we live in it but we have done the best we can to keep it tightly sealed. Could this be causing major fluctuations?

Since Radon is much denser than air, I would expect there to be higher concentrations on the floor but even if a mitigation system is installed, won't the Radon still be flowing across the floor? It's worth noting that my basement has been EXTREMELY humid as we have had a ton of rain. Also, my sump doesn't have a cover that seals well so I will be at least sealing it better.

If I need to do a radon mitigation system, I want to get it going ASAP since I need to proceed with my work in the area.

Ron6519 06-04-2011 08:16 AM

The Radon system removes the gas from under the slab before the levels build up and get into the basement through openings. The system will be designed based on the levels you have. One size does not fit all.
Ron

butchbs1985 06-04-2011 10:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ron6519 (Post 660845)
The Radon system removes the gas from under the slab before the levels build up and get into the basement through openings. The system will be designed based on the levels you have. One size does not fit all.
Ron

I understand that and would certainly hire a pro rather than DIY but what is the optimal testing height? Thanks!

Ron6519 06-04-2011 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by butchbs1985 (Post 660933)
I understand that and would certainly hire a pro rather than DIY but what is the optimal testing height? Thanks!

I would test it at the floor level. If I had kids playing down there, that's where they'd be.
Ron

AllanJ 06-04-2011 08:15 PM

If the basement is really humid then things stored down there will deteriorate.

Get a dehumidifier.

The same air, if cooled, will show a higher relative humidity. In the summer, a basement is usually cooler than the outside temperature so slow exchange of air with outside air or upstairs air will always result in higher humidity in the basement.

butchbs1985 06-04-2011 11:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 661191)
If the basement is really humid then things stored down there will deteriorate.

Get a dehumidifier.

The same air, if cooled, will show a higher relative humidity. In the summer, a basement is usually cooler than the outside temperature so slow exchange of air with outside air or upstairs air will always result in higher humidity in the basement.

Thanks. Already got one that kept the basement at 35% humidity since last spring. Just too much moisture this spring I fear.


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