Our old house has a brick foundation and tall crawlspace. Under the family room we have what used to be a boiler room (approximately 14'x14') that was accessed through an outside set of stairs. Two walls of the "room" only go up to ground level and open to the crawl space, while the other two are full height to the floor joists. The walls are also brick, and appears to be on a concrete slab, giving the room/pit an overall height to the floor joists of approximately 8 feet. The slab always appears dry and has no signs of water seepage. The brick is also in fantastic condition, from what I can tell. This space actually has an old water heater down in there that is not in use and has since been replaced with a shorty 40 gallon unit in a closet on the first floor.
Sometime during the house's history, two rooms were added and built on a slab, at ground level (each on the full height walls, which were exterior walls) and they closed off the stairs that accessed this room. It is now only accessible through the crawl space and is a ton of work to get to.
We've been thinking of opening up the floor to this room through an adjacent closet to put in a small stairwell so we can easily access this space and make it usable for our mechanicals (water heater) as well as create a nice place for wine/canned food storage and in addition provide some shelter from potential severe weather. We would have someone come in and extend the wall height up to the floor joists above.
Here's the questions...
- What about egress issues, since the room is basically not accessible to the exterior of the house and would have no windows? Could the crawlspace be utilized for egress?
- How about drainage? Would a tile system of some sort have to be added and/or maybe a sump of some kind in case the water heater would need to be drained and or leaked?
- How about ventilation and air circulation? If we are going to do wine and canned good storage, I would like to keep the temperature fluctuation to a minimum.
- Would a building inspector laugh at me for even thinking of this??
I have a feeling this project would be a HUGE undertaking, but as things are now, we have basically no place to add a larger water heater and a place to run from severe weather. Would be nice to use this space if possible.
Any input on something like this would be helpful! It all seems very complicated...