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Old 06-09-2012, 11:18 AM   #1
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Finishing my basement...

As promised, I wanted to start sharing my experience and lessons learned with finishing my basement- at least the back half. The previous owner had already finished the front half.

The house is a single level ranch, located in central KY. It was built in '94 and I am the 2nd owner. The basement is a walkout basement split into two halves. The front main half was nicely finished by the previous owner. Walking into the rear half is a laundry area, with the HVAC and hot water heater and past that is a small bathroom with shower.
The rear area has been used as storage only....

... Until I discovered standing water throughout the basement one morning. Carpet sounded like this .. swish, swish when stepping on it.

Standing water has been an issue about 3 times after week-long downpours. House sits on a hill and never understood where water came from. The slab was in great shape, however some water issues apparent in corners on cinderblock.

So, before anything could be finished, I had to get the water issue resolved. Ended up contacting few companies that made 2 different recommendations. Take care of the issue from the exterior, or manage the issue from the interior. Exterior fix was quoted at $10+ k, inside between $5k and $7k.

Ended up using a company near my town to manage my problem from the inside for cost and simple cleanliness reasons.

It be said that I could not have been happier with their work, products and results. Basement has had no signs of moisture whatsoever since I used their system over 1 year ago and we have had floods in the area several times since.

I had to have the inside perimeter of the slab jackhammered which took too days.
The system consists of a plastic channel that sits
inside the jackhammered space on some gravel. Before the channel was put down, holes were drilled into the cinderblock for reasons I will list later. A sump pump was installed and all components connected together. New concrete to cover everything topped off the install.

There were two theories behind using this system:

1) Water was getting into the cinderblocks at the
front and eventually flowed through them to the next and ended up at the back of the foundation. Hence the holes at the bottom of each cinderblock.

2) The channel and sump pump take care of elevated ground water that is pushed into the footer area below the slab and water pressure pushes it through whatever it can- most commonly the area where the slab meets the cinderblock. The ground is all clay and drains very poorly. Also don't think any plastic was below slab and very little gravel was used...

Both were very successfully taken care of.
The week prior to having it done, it had rained again for several days and as the slab was opened up, I saw what the new system was to manage. See pictures. Again, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate. It took me three floods to finally decide to take care of the issue because I was unsure of what I could expect. I also got a lifetime warranty guarantying that my basement would never be wet again- to date I have no doubt that I will not have any more issues.

That said, That system laid the ground work for finishing my basement.
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Old 06-09-2012, 04:37 PM   #2
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:37 PM   #3
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... continued

The whole reason for finishing the basement was that it was too cold in the winter to do anything in and the floors in the rooms above were cold too.
Plus, with the previous water issues, the mold (very likely)... see picture of insulation I pulled out of wall. Even without my family's allergies, spending any time in basement was not possible.

A little about me. I have never ever done any of this work to the extent I have done with this basement. I have framed a wall, run electric wire, added breakers, insulated voids etc. before, but all of it in one place was a thrill. In talking to our building inspector, I learned I didn't need a building permit for any work I was doing myself (all of it) as long I didn't change anything structurally- which I didn't. I don't pretend to be an expert, I don't claim to have done everything correctly, but I am extremely happy with the outcome. I am a true DYIer, with the exception of running wire for security, satellite TV, home theater and networking.
That was another of my complaints before starting... previous owner had run all wire below the joists with feet of cable just strung in loops or run phone wire through floors and carpet. A total mess. I couldn't live in a house when I take particular pride in hiding wires at my customers' homes. So, I ran all new wires into walls with wall plates to a central enclosure. Networking & phone (Cat5) & satellite/ cable RG-6 coax cable. That allowed me to clean up the ceiling for future drywall on the ceiling.

While running two of my own businesses and having a full time engineering position, I spent a few week-ends a month with a small budget just big enough to start on saturday morning and finish on sunday night. 20 2x4s or 5 sheets of drywall or 10 rolls of insulation... you get the point. All in all it took me just over a year. Delta-Fl going down this week, and laminate flooring by next week. Paint went up last week. New speakers already working.

Back to the work:
So, I didn't think it would hurt to start insulating the area between the joists and the cinderblock foundation. Used unfaced R-19 insulation. Once that was up I started preparing the exterior walls. Front half and sides were below grade, rear was above for most part. To ensure i would not have any issues I painted the front and side walls with Dry-lock paint. I heard so many different things about using a vapor barrier - or not, that I ended up deciding not to use one at all. However I used paper-faced R-13 insulation between the studs. That in addition to the Dry-lock, I believe will do just fine.

The framing: I liquid nailed all pressure treated 2x4s to the floor with enough distance from the wall that I could keep a comfortable distance from my cinderblock wall and be plumb. Turns out the cinderblock walls were far from plum. All exterior walls I used PT wood for, all interior walls just regular 2x4's. Drywall later was also moisture resistant along the cinderblock walls.
I knew basic framing fundamentals, 16" OC, etc. however, didn't put enough thought into drywall later as in the fact that the drywall in the corner will not be on center but ALL the way against the edge of the previous corner 2x4, leaving my drywall just short of the last stud. Split the difference, some extra mud, and you wouldn't know the difference. But that was something that on at least one wall I learned and also read about here AFTER I was nearly done altogether. I added two new closets. No, one closet, one utility room to hide my panel, enclosures and sump pump and back-up battery.

As part of the project I also decided to replace the cheap, original aluminum frame single pane windows, one of which had met its match with a soccer ball- soccer ball won.
Special order from Lowe's, special discount and 2 weeks later they were in. However, the old windows had been nailed to a wood frame along 3 sides- nothing unusual there, BUT put in concrete on the bottom using the nailing fin. Don't think a chisel and a hammer or even a sledge hammer will work. I had to borrow a jack hammer- like butter. Set the window, new concrete window sill- all done. While windows don't meet egress requirements, I wasn't planning on calling the new room a bedroom anyway.
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