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Old 01-16-2012, 08:19 AM   #16
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keep it going!!!

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Old 01-16-2012, 12:53 PM   #17
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subbed... looking forward to seeing this project complete. I watched a series of "Home to Flip" where the flipper Peter Filico (or something like that) lowered the concrete floor in his basement. Looked like a ton of work, but the results were fantastic. It seems as though you are writing this showcase in the past tense so to speak. How much of the project is actually complete to date?
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:32 PM   #18
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subbed... looking forward to seeing this project complete. I watched a series of "Home to Flip" where the flipper Peter Filico (or something like that) lowered the concrete floor in his basement. Looked like a ton of work, but the results were fantastic. It seems as though you are writing this showcase in the past tense so to speak. How much of the project is actually complete to date?
All but the finishing touches are complete... I need to refinish some of the floors... you'll see why later. More than anything, I just need to clean up!! As one room was complete, another was filled with crap. But basically it's all done. I'm going slow because I'm trying to show you everything in the order it was completed, and I have to find the relevant pictures. Hang in there though, I'll post steps 2-3, maybe 4 tonight.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:46 PM   #19
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Also, there were several changes to the plan as construction began. If you look at it, you'll see I initially had the office as an open room adjacent to the stairs. The wife ruled this out, stating we may need to use it as a future bedroom for guests or whatnot, so she wanted it walled in. To appease her, i added a wall and door, but left a window connecting the room to the stair landing. Its the only way to get sunlight into the room.
Other key changes:
1. The electrical box was not moved from it's original location in the media room space- it would have cost a small fourtune to move it into the workshop, for essentially no reason. I built a small closet around it.
2. The 1/2 BA was converted into a 3/4 BA and a door was added to the Media room side. The idea was that if you were watching a movie, you'd have to walk into the gym and then a hallway before you could pee.
3. The office and worshop were made to be about the same size, with a single wall that ran E-W.
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:26 PM   #20
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Also, there were several changes to the plan as construction began. If you look at it, you'll see I initially had the office as an open room adjacent to the stairs. The wife ruled this out, stating we may need to use it as a future bedroom for guests or whatnot, so she wanted it walled in. To appease her, i added a wall and door, but left a window connecting the room to the stair landing. Its the only way to get sunlight into the room.
Other key changes:
1. The electrical box was not moved from it's original location in the media room space- it would have cost a small fourtune to move it into the workshop, for essentially no reason. I built a small closet around it.
2. The 1/2 BA was converted into a 3/4 BA and a door was added to the Media room side. The idea was that if you were watching a movie, you'd have to walk into the gym and then a hallway before you could pee.
3. The office and worshop were made to be about the same size, with a single wall that ran E-W.
Putting a wall to add a bedroom was probably a good idea.

What do you mean by 3/4 bath? Like a stand-up shower included? If so, did you make the bathroom bigger? Where did you find the extra footprint. Looking forward to your pictures.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:20 PM   #21
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Putting a wall to add a bedroom was probably a good idea.

What do you mean by 3/4 bath? Like a stand-up shower included? If so, did you make the bathroom bigger? Where did you find the extra footprint. Looking forward to your pictures.
Yup- additionl space was carved out of the media room....
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:05 PM   #22
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I will lump these together because they were projects that had some role in the basement, but affected the whole house and needed to be done before I could continue. I will keep this part short.

Step 2- Electrical Upgrade

The house had the old fuse panel replaced in 1940 with this thing....



This panel was for only 100A service, and was known to be defective (the breakers would not trip). I found out the hard way, as first my computer motherboard fried one day, and within a week, the motherboard/controller of the garage door opener also fried. This thing had to go, and ASAP. Not wanting to electricute myself, I hired a pro for this one (although I did take out my own electrical permits for all other electrical work). I replaced this with a GE 200 A box. I also got rid of this thing controlling the boiler...


this thing reminded me of the switch from a Frankenstein movie.

Step 3: A/C. The house had a system installed in 1980. It still worked, barely. The previous owners had it installed on top of the servants staircase (situated directly above the original basement staircase shown before). What I mean by that, is that they literally nailed a couple of planks of wood to the top step, and rested the 300 lb unit on that. So I had to first remove the old unit, then rip out that staircase, and then add a real subfloor (witsh supporting joists) in the same space before I could add a state-of-the-art, energy efficient A/C, heat pump/Furnace.


This is what the old AC looked like at the top of the servant's staircase:

we were lucky to get rid of this thing when we did. The following summer was BRUTAL.

Once removed, the demo began- fist add a supporting joist, then remove the stairs...



Then

This is a view looking down at the hole that was created, resulting in a raceway from the roof of the house to the bottom of the cellar (~30 ft).
This space would house plumbing, vents, and electrical to the rest of the house.

And finally, the new A/C.... I had a professional install it.

Notice the new and secure subfloor. Also gone was the stairs that sat on top of the cellar stairs, leaving room to install the new direct gas hot water heater...




Notice that i added a new subfloor here too. The new direct GWH would sit directly below here, and vent into that window above (I bricked it in- there would be 3 vents coming out of that window).

If you look at the last picture from Step 1, you will see that you can make out where the stairs used to be. I had to use mortar to seal off the stone wall, and mount the DGWH right there. You can also see the vents coming down from the new AC into the cellar. There are 2 vents and a return, and I would connect them all once the basement was framed...


Site of the direct GWH

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Old 01-17-2012, 08:13 AM   #23
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Did the door to the outside already exist when you removed the stairs. Seems like an odd space for a furnace. I bet the installer wasn't happy doing that work.

Keep up the great posts.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:36 AM   #24
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Did the door to the outside already exist when you removed the stairs. Seems like an odd space for a furnace. I bet the installer wasn't happy doing that work.

Keep up the great posts.

Not sure which door to the outside you are referring to... I agree it was an odd location for a furnace, but it does have several advantages. First, cold air likes to go down, so it's always better to put your evaporator as high as possible. This house has no attic so this was the best they could do. Most houses around here have 2 units- one for each floor. I thought this was unnecessary given the space I have, but could only find one installer willing to put in a single unit. I could have relocated the furnace to the basement, but that would have used up valuable space down there, as well as force me to put in 2 units. I had no need for a servant's staircase, given that I'll fresh out of servants at the moment. So closing off that space and removing the stairs seemed logical.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:07 AM   #25
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STEP 4: Waterproofing

OK, I won't lie- this was a LOT of work. The waterproofing was made up of 2 parts- first, as most of you know, the best way to get water out of your basement is to keep it from coming in in the first place. Our lot has a general slope going down in the back of the house, but was not even. Also, the ground came down at the exterior walls (bad), plant roots were growing into the mortar (worse), and much of the mortar was cracked and let water seep in (worst).

Part A:

Stop water from coming in. The idea was simple- first, clear out all plants within 2' of the house exterior. Second, dig a 2' wide x 1' deep ditch around the exterior of the house. The bottom of the trench would slope away from the house. Third, add a 1" thick layer of Sodium bentonite to the ditch. This stuff is used to seal ponds- it is a chalk-like material that turns into a water-impermeable goo when wet. Also, it expands when wet, filling any cracks and stopping leaks. Fourth, patch cracks in the mortar. Fifth, place a water-permiable plastic mesh over the trench, so plants cannot grow there again (or at least make it more difficult). Sixth, fill in the ditch higher than before, at a slope away from the house (apprx 15 degrees). In retrospect, this part of the project also seemed like a piece of cake, but took weeks to complete. Unfortunately, I don't have too many pictures. A lot have me and my blindingly-white body in them, so I'll refrain from using them... Also, the clay used to fill in the trench came from the excavation in the basement (will cover in part B)....


You can see here the dense plants growing right up to the house. It's hard to make out, but the ground actually sloped down to the house, meaning when it rained, water would pool along the walls. This is the only picture I have showing the base of the walls BEFORE I did any work- it wasn't the worst by any means.


At this point, I have made the 2'x1' ditch and am filling it with bentonite...


A little further along in the same spot. You can see that old A/C condenser, so this step was actually done before I ripped out the old A/C system. Yes, it's vintage 1980 A/C technology right there. You can also see the erosion of the mortar near the bottom of the walls. This was all patched before the ditch was filled.


The finished product. The plants are gone, and the ground now slopes AWAY from the house.


Thi is the same place you saw me add bentonite. This process was done around the entire house except for below the front porch, where that does a pretty good job of keeping water away from the house. This specific area still needed to be tamped down. The clay used here was take from the basement excavation, so it looks a little different that the surrounding soil.

Last edited by gbwillner; 01-17-2012 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:49 AM   #26
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Not sure which door to the outside you are referring to... I agree it was an odd location for a furnace, but it does have several advantages. First, cold air likes to go down, so it's always better to put your evaporator as high as possible. This house has no attic so this was the best they could do. Most houses around here have 2 units- one for each floor. I thought this was unnecessary given the space I have, but could only find one installer willing to put in a single unit. I could have relocated the furnace to the basement, but that would have used up valuable space down there, as well as force me to put in 2 units. I had no need for a servant's staircase, given that I'll fresh out of servants at the moment. So closing off that space and removing the stairs seemed logical.
In your sketch of the finished basement plans it showed a door to the outside below grade. Just wondering if it was an existing door, or a proposed one. I didn't say anything was wrong with the placement of the HVAC unit and it does seem logical, was just saying it is a tight space.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:28 PM   #27
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In your sketch of the finished basement plans it showed a door to the outside below grade. Just wondering if it was an existing door, or a proposed one. I didn't say anything was wrong with the placement of the HVAC unit and it does seem logical, was just saying it is a tight space.
Ahh, that door. It was already there, and can be seen in the second set of images of step 1- there is water seeping in from under the door. Just outside the door is a drain.... you'll see that soon enough...

And re: the A/C- you are right- it was a very close shave fitting the new unit in there. God help whoever needs to take that thing out of there!
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:17 PM   #28
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I'm loving this.

Particularly since all the work is done so we don't have to wait weeks between posts, lol.

It's like buying a whole season of some TV show on DVD and binging on it.

I'm curious about the clay "shelf" that you put in around your foundation to address water issues. Did you get some sense of how effective that was at remediating water issues *before* you did any interior waterproofing? I'm asking because it might work exceptionally well for one limited area where I have a trickle in the basement whenever it pours for days on end.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:39 PM   #29
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Waterproofing, part B: Getting water out

The basement, being 102 years old, did not have any drainage and it needed to be installed. The plan was simple. First, I would excavate the perimeter of the entire basement until I found the bottom of the footings. This was for a few reasons. First, the floor was totally uneven, and I was betting the footings were actually level. Second, we wanted to drop the basement floor, but you can't drop below the bottom of the footing without some engineering feats without risking catastophe. I would make a ditch about 2' wide around the perimeter until I got the bottom of the footing. I would then dig another 1' deep trench 1' away from the footing (resulting in a 45 degree angle form the bottom of the ditch to the bottom of the footing- the maximum allowed without risking damaging the foundation). I would then install a small bed of gravel, then a plastic corrugated pipe in a sleeve around the entire perimeter. This drainage system would empty into a sump pit 4' deep. A pump would empty the pit into the nearest stack. This might sound weird, but St. Louis city does not have a separate sewer and rain drainage, so this is allowable by code. I would then fill the remainder of the pit with gravel, before the remaining floor was leveled to the bottom of the footings.

Start of the excavation...

You can see just how much dust was getting kicked up that it was affecting the camera...


Here you can see the layers below the concrete. The concrete is about 1"-2" thick. Below that waslayer of large white gravel, then a thin layer of fine black gravel, and below that was a layer of soot. Below all that was a thick, muddy clay (used outside for the slope). I tried to save a lot of the gravel for filling in the french drain ditch (see later images). The soot was the original floor, a result of the coal that was stored here.


This is a rare wife sighting. She helped break up the concrete. I rented an electric breaker for the job, but it was just going right through the thin concrete and getting stuck. This job was done with a sledgehammer. That's right, we broke up the entire slab (1000 sq ft), with a sledgehammer, and it was far easier than using the breaker. You can also see the installed Bosche direct whole-house water heater protected by plastic.

Adding the french drain...
My wife helped here too.... This is the trench dug out around the perimeter...


And then I layed down the rubble and drain...

This was placed around the entire perimeter as well as with a central line that ran the length of the basement. All lines terminated in the sump pit. You can also see how I tried to separate out the white large gravel and small black gravel for recycling (later use).


Here, the drain is buried in the small gravel and later covered with the soot that used to make up the 100 year-old floor. You can also see I added a layer of bentonite to the bottom of the footings, to try to prevent water from coming in below the footings. This was also used in all the large cracks in between the foundation stones. You can also see how quickly the dirt/clay started to pile up...




This is the drainage where the floor was highest (about 6'5"), so there is a steep ledge where the old floor was and where the bottom of the footing was...


After completing this, there was no spot on the floor further than 4' from one of these lines.


We were wearing plastic bags over our shoes for much of this work because the mud was so bad. This was grueling work.
After the perimeter was done, we leveled the entire floor to the level of the footings. Then we added the last trench for the central drain.

I started doing this on my own, and got through about 1/3 of the basement- taking up 2 buckets of dirt at a time (and dumping them in my yard). After 3 weeks, it stopped being fun, so I hired someone to finish that part of the job. The next part was the plumbing under the floor... but I will save that for tomorrow!!!! The plumbing actually overlapped with the french drain in chronology, but I'm trying to keep it simple (That's why you see those pipes laying around).

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Old 01-17-2012, 08:50 PM   #30
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I'm loving this.

Particularly since all the work is done so we don't have to wait weeks between posts, lol.

It's like buying a whole season of some TV show on DVD and binging on it.

I'm curious about the clay "shelf" that you put in around your foundation to address water issues. Did you get some sense of how effective that was at remediating water issues *before* you did any interior waterproofing? I'm asking because it might work exceptionally well for one limited area where I have a trickle in the basement whenever it pours for days on end.
I should end each post with "catch us tomorrow night at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel"

Re: the clay shelf, I read up extensively on waterproofing before starting, and it is well established that the most effective method of getting water out of a basement is to not let it in in the first place. The slope helps guide the water away slowly. Water can traverse underground at about a 60 degree angle, so simply making sure the water does not get any closer the the house than 2 feet at the ground level can go a long way in preventing water issues. The slope prevents the water from accumilating and circumventing your efforts, it also forces the water even further away. The bentonite is a high-tech solution. MAybe it was not necessary, but I didn't want to take any chances. In regards to efficacy- all I can tell you is that we've only got water in the basement once since I did all this work, and it was because the rain came down so fast it overwhelmed the city sewer system, and the water literally came up out of the drains I installed. That was the worst flash flooding here in the last 50 years or so. Luckily, There was nothing yet in the basement except the new slab.

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