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Old 02-24-2010, 08:45 AM   #1
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I've recently bought an 1880's home with a dirt basement and stone walls. It is only about 6 or 7 feet deep. It is dry and the previous homeowner did not have any trouble with dampness or mold. We have discussed lifting the house and putting a cement basement in, but are worried about the costs and damage that this may cause to the house.(It is structually quite good) Is there anything wrong with leaving it as is?? We don't want to spend time and money on updating the main house if we will just have to do something with it later, so we would rather do it now if we must. Please let me know what you think.

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Old 02-24-2010, 08:55 AM   #2
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Is there anything wrong with leaving it as is??
Ayuh,... It's been that way for 130 Years,...Without Problems....
I doubt it's going anywhere Now....

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Old 02-24-2010, 09:00 AM   #3
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Yeah, I'd say to leave it alone - no need to risk damage by jacking up a house. Sounds to me as if the basement was used as a root cellar - back in those days they didn't frame them with wood because wood invites termites and other critters. and prevents it from staying cold enough to store food throughout the year.

You can use it for the same if you'd like - or you can build a proper floor if you'd like and use it for storage.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:10 AM   #4
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I agree there would probably be more damage playing with the structure of an old house as opposed to just dealing with the 'crawl space'.

Although it appears dry, did you know that dirt floors can let in 1 gallon of moisture per 10 sqft of space per day? To some this might sound like a lot but depending on the structure, the insulation level etc, this may not be too extreme...on the other hand any additional weatherprooofing (ie. insulation, air barriers, weatherstripping, sealing or vapour barrier additions) can make that amount (1 gal/day/10 sqft) take on an unwanted importance.

You can solve this by covering the dirt with a plastic sheet...a few other details but this would go hand-in-hand with other works, as you improve your confort level.

Tell us more about the old windows; they're a good target for that...we all like pictures too!
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:26 AM   #5
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We have plans to replace the windows...there is a tonne of draft coming in there. I have to admit...I'm liking the responses with regards to keeping the basement. It could save us a lot of money we could spend on other updates. We would like to do the essentials first and then work away at the cosmetics. The whole house is plaster...but in excellent condition. I could only find a couple of small cracks anywhere. There does also seem to be a lean toward the back of the house...a sill maybe? hopefully I'm not getting in over my head
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:39 AM   #6
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OK, well then I'll tell you that in our experience, some old windows can be fixed and made to operate better and for cheaper than replacement windows, and there is truth to the saying that some older things are made better than the newer things. Are they double sash windows?
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ccarlisle View Post
OK, well then I'll tell you that in our experience, some old windows can be fixed and made to operate better and for cheaper than replacement windows, and there is truth to the saying that some older things are made better than the newer things. Are they double sash windows?
This is GREAT advice! I'd add good storm windows before I replaced a decent wooden window. I've got windows in my house that are 205 years old! Sure they need occasional maintenance - but you show me a replacement window that will last that long. With good storm windows and good weather stripping you can be very happy with old windows and you will maintain your historic home.

Where in Nova Scotia? Spent 3 weeks up that way in 2007. There are some AMAZING homes up there.
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:11 PM   #8
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Just my 2 cents. If you want to heat the crawl space or celler, you should put down a vapor barrior. Electric heat is a dry heat while gas is moist and condensates more.

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