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WillK 08-25-2012 12:37 PM

Basement or crawlspace
Okay, been some time since I've posted, and things in the marriage have affected the course of the major remodelling project on our house. We're going to rent a house to live in while things progress, it's not certain how much will be DIY vs. contracted out, at an extreme end of the spectrum we might have the house demolished and built professionally - obviously the most expensive option.

I'm wondering if there's any point where my crawlspace would be too deep and might be considered a basement.

Here's the biggest reason to not want a basement: it would drive huge cost. Not just the basement itself, but word is that the city would require a new sewer tap if I dug a new basement, where if I put in a foundation on my crawlspace I would not need that. A new sewer tap would involve tearing up the street, the permits cost $10,000.

For a crawlspace, currently I'm at a depth of up to 30". I was thinking of going a little deeper and raising the floor joists to get a depth of about 5', pouring a cement floor with sump, insulation, vapor barrier, etc. so it could be useful storage.

Is there any point where this might become a basement and drive a requirement for a new sewer tap?

I know this will be city discretion in the end, but I'm looking for general advice. Demo (drywall, plaster, lath, floor, etc.) starts mid October at the soonest, and I'll likely be doing that and excavating through the spring. Real construction won't be starting until May.

notmrjohn 08-25-2012 04:54 PM

Who's "word is"? Does the city say that? Ask the city how deep you can go B4 you are required to put in new tap. Don't ask how deep a new basement can be or how deep your crawl space can be B4 being considered a basement, just how deep your crawl space can be without a new tap requirement. I'm not sure; we don't have basements here, tho some folks have a 'fraidy hole; but I'd think the reasoning behind a new tap is because a new basement floor might be below the level of the old one, and the main would drain into your basement. Even if your basement is not connected to the main.
A 30" crawl space would be fairly easy to crawl around in for access to utilites etc. I've been in some that were actually squirm on your belly spaces. A 5 foot one would be a luxurious " just stoop over a bit and watch your head space." Just raising the joists is not going to turn it into a basement. My brother wound up with a luxurious near 5 footer while building his house when the guys pouring the pier and beam walls misread the plans, no cost for the extra head room.
But excavating deeper may require a new tap. And paving the floor may turn it into a basement. Where is that sump going to drain to? You gonna have to pump it up to reach a sewer? City may not allow that in new construction. Speakin of pumps, will the city allow an actual sewage collection sump with sewage pump on the old tap? A sewage sump is way bigger than your usual basement sump and uses a way bigger pump, all engineered and valved to prevent back flow. Might be too expensive tho.They're used in buildings with way deep basements and deeper sub basements. Like the secret under-ground headquarters of the Organization of Cities Scheming to Raise More Bucks by Requiring More Permits.

WillK 08-25-2012 08:59 PM

That's informative.

The someone that informed me about the requirement for a new sewer tap was a builder that is tearing down houses and building new on my street. I discussed my project with him, and he'd be one of those I'd bid the job for a complete build. I did leave a message with the city to confirm what he said, but never got a return call - been too busy to try any further.

In particular, the houses he's torn down and built have mostly already had basements.

My house was built in 1917. It has a crawlspace but no foundation. It was built on stacks of cement blocks, there are 3 spread footings under the main beam in the center. The 30" depth is present in about half of the crawlspace and the back 10' of the house is around 18" deep.

The sump would be for a perimiter drain for rainwater runoff. I've added a sump pit to prevent flooding in the crawlspace, which was a problem. It would drain to... I dunno, probably a french drain or something. The city doesn't allow it to go into the sewer system unless it's existing that way. There is a storm drain system, but I'd need to do a new tap into that, I think I could just drain it to the front yard and let it run downhill to the street, that's what I have my present setup doing.

I believe the sewer pipe is at about 6' depth, I had it replaced under the driveway because it was collapsed and infiltrated with tree roots.

The crawlspace option is something I'm considering as DIY.

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