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JasonSm 11-05-2012 11:37 PM

Upcoming basement project
Howdy all,

I am just beginning to put together my plan of attack on the basement of my home. I have about 792 square feet of floor space that's currently demo'd down to the floor joists above, and insulation on two of the four walls.

Some of the challenges I will need to work through are the heat registers (I have a boiler and radiant heat), inconvenient support poll location, an aged fuse box, single pane windows in cinderblock walls and asbestos floor tile.

Well I guess knowing is half the battle. :whistling2:

Here are a few pictures of what I am working with.
The stairwell

The entire room (thank you iPhone panoramic camera)
Other random pictures

I would like to frame in the North, East and South block walls so I can run electrical and cable wires. I’d also like to add additional insolation there as well. One thing I am concerned about here is how to frame the walls with the heat registers that run along most of the baseboards. I’m at a loss as to how I can work around this. Maybe use alloy studs and frame just outside of them and have a metal grate run along them? Something with a semi designer look?
I would like to use something like the image below and possibly have low watt lighting inside as well. The North half of the room is going to be a theater so a soft glow would be pretty neat.

I would appreciate any suggestions, tips or tricks you think may aid me in this project.

Thanks for taking the time to read through all of this!

Warm regards


rebelranger 11-06-2012 01:49 AM

Honestly I would tackle the electrical and furnace before anything else. That Main panel needs some serious updating. Also a new furnace would save you a ton of money on bills!

JasonSm 11-07-2012 09:46 AM

Thanks for the responce.

Any high level guestimates on what a furnace replacement would set a guy back? I know that's a loaded question, but I haven't figured this into my budget and am almost afraid of the answer.

Also, anyone have any suggestions for how to frame over/around the registers? Should I have them taken out and put back outside the new wall?


joecaption 11-07-2012 11:29 AM

No one here is going to be even ball parking prices. Your going to have to makes some calls and getting several estimates.
What your seeing when looking at the heater is just the covers. You should be able to remove a few screws and they will pull away from the wall enough to slip something in behind them.

Unless you called in an engineerer to redesign the support beams, better leave them where they are.

Best way to hande the floor is just go right over it with something.
Only causes issues when you try to remove it.
Engineered flooring, laminite, carpet, some forms of linolium will all work.

That furnace room really should have 5/8 fire code sheetrock on the ceiling and walls on the inside, leave room to work on it on all sides, it's going to need ventilation. I'd also install a 36" door for easy access.

JasonSm 11-07-2012 12:12 PM

I appriciate the reply and info!

rebelranger 11-07-2012 06:18 PM

JasonSm - I'll tell you what HVAC is a crazy beast. you can get amazing deals online but if you read the fine print of warranty companies VOID warranties if the equipment was purchased online. What you really need to do is call around and get an individual who will perform a Manual J "Load-Calculation" of your house and based on that will provide you a Manual S "equipment selection" based on the Load-cal analysis. 99.9% of HVAC guys are merely salesman and SUCK! I spent about 8 months reading, researching, and even took a couple classes and helped out a few HVAC tech installers to learn that in 8 months I really only know 3 things about HVAC. 1) Almost every furnace is WAY over sized. My house I went from a 90k to 70k furnace although there is maybe 1 day every three years here in KC that I'll use the furnace at 100% I could of went to a 48k btu furnace. 2) The HVAC industry will try to convince you that the 500sqft rule of thumb is the only way to go. Actually based on insulation levels, ventilation, tree shade, window covers, air tightness, heck even the number of animals/humans living in your house affect the actual size your HVAC should be. 3) Humidity is almost more important to control than temperature. This is especially true here in the Midwest were we get hot humid days without wind.

Price let me tell you I got 5 quotes for just a furnace replacement, I'll replace A-coil, lineset, and AC condensor in the spring, and the quotes ranged from $2414.10 to $10,000. Now the high end quotes were from the salesman only Trane/Lennox/Carrier guys. The middle of the road HVAC guys who knew everything and actually do the installs gave me my best deal. Seriously, just call around and get some bids. With your ancient equipment I bet it pays for itself within 5 years.

Electrical panel needs update too! There isn't even grounds for those circuits. --> Sorry I'm spending your money in the wrong places, lol.

JasonSm 11-08-2012 08:18 AM


I greatly appreciate the info you shared! I plan on making some calls but it really helps me prioritize my tasks knowing if I need to change up my budget for a month or sell one of the kids on ebay! knowing the range of possible expense is very useful. I fully recognize that it can change based on many other variables. (covering my bases as it felt that me asking was not well received initially)

I have an electrician coming over this Saturday to take a look at the wiring and I’m going to have this one tackled first.

I’m still pondering the furnace / boiler swap as I plan on selling this house within 5 years. When I bought it all I kept hearing is that a boiler was the way to go, and that it was “green”. I don’t care much whether something is green or not, but figured why not.

Where I live, the housing market is crap. Mostly due to a local employer closing and causing a mass exodus from the town. I fear eating up more of my home equity than necessary.

Thanks again!

Warm regards


rebelranger 11-08-2012 12:31 PM

Jason - I live in KC bought my house as a foreclosure and plan no stay Not a day over 3 years. However I have choose to replace/upgrade my electrical panel for two reasons: (1) safety old wiring is very problematic (mine was no where near as old as yours) which can cause fires and we use more power than years ago. The BENEFIT has been lower bills (less resistance and waste [bad lines put off heat which is wasted electricity] and lights don't dim when a big amp draw appliance comes on. (2) resale value - a spoke to realtors and home inspectors [to include my home inspector] and they all said during resale that an old panel will be a buyer point of contention and a ding by a home inspector.
*Recommend you go with a 200 amp main panel.

I choose to replace/upgrade the furnace because of the same two reasons above (buyers want to see new things if its a crap product) plus (3) Comfort - with my new furnace I can do all kinds of awesome things. I've had my house zoned with the upgrade, so my upstairs can be 75 degrees, downstairs is 60, and basement 75! It is amazing and really saves money because why heat your house parts that aren't being used? Also the new furnace as variable speed (fan comes on slow and speeds up as necessary or stays slow based on need) and 2 stages of heating low heat (keep house warm) and high heat (knock the chill out of the house ASAP).
*Unless you can't get gas stay away from Heat Pumps, unless your house insulation is great. The temps we get out here are just to much for heat pumps on cold days and our gas prices are cheap.

Keep in mind I am (1) the most frugal person you'll meet, (2) everything is "value" driven, (3) I research everything WAY TO MUCH before I make decisions.

If you have questions just ask.

JuzRick 11-20-2012 11:06 PM

JasonSm: one suggestion i would make is to upgrade your service from the fuse type as you have to actual circuit breakers where you would then have a safety trip device set. Upgrade to a 200amp 40 circuit, 40 space. That take care of your loads.

JuzRick 11-20-2012 11:13 PM

Jason: also if need, would suggest that you upgrade your outdoor meter base to a 200 amp combo panel, 8 circuit which comes with a shut off disconnect which is required by NEC.

JasonSm 11-21-2012 05:34 AM

Rebelranger and JuzRick - I appriciate the information! I have added these things to my list!

JasonSm 06-28-2013 01:27 PM

Been a while since i last posted, but the basement project is creeping along at a steady pace. That pace being slow. :-)

I had the fuse panel updated.

I also put up some insulation and framed the walls so I can drywall soon.

Now i'm presented with a new challenge. I need to replace the single pane windows with new windows. The current window frame is metal around the cinder blocks that make up the outside wall.

I'm not sure if I can put the new windows into the existing metal frame or if I need to cut the frame out and use treated lumber to built a new frame. Here are some pictures of the window frame.

Any suggestions as to how I should go about this next step? Thanks ahead of time!

New window:

existing frame:

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