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Old 10-19-2017, 12:51 PM   #1
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Working with basement ledge


I hope this the right forum to post this question.

I'm looking to remodel our basement with built-in bookshelves and desks. Part of the basement is below ground level, so that creates some basement ledge. I'm assuming it's part of the foundation.

The ledge around the basement is about 25 inches high and about 11 inches deep. I'd like to build the built-ins above them. For the desk tops, I'd like to secure them directly to the ledge, but I'm afraid of hitting any wires that might be run against the top of the ledges. I know there are wires somewhere, because there are power outlets and cable on different sides on every side of the basement.

What should I know about how these ledges are framed out? Do they have wood tops, covered by drywall? I think there are 16 inch studs within the ledges. How can I make sure that I don't hit a wire somewhere?
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Old 10-19-2017, 01:02 PM   #2
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Re: Working with basement ledge


There are about twice as big as the usual. With that depth you may have sewer pipe or even heat ducts behind a stud wall.
Outlets are usually closer to the floor and the wire usually will be the shortest distance so a straight line between outlets and some times they are just on the other side of the studs.
There is no guarantee of what you would find inside the box as thing change over time and what is common in one place maybe real strange in another place.
If you need to know if there is wood on the top I would remove some drywall for a look. But there should be a wall on the front and something screwed to the wall at the back.
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Old 10-19-2017, 01:11 PM   #3
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Re: Working with basement ledge


Thanks! It sounds like I should open part of the wall up. I was hoping to avoid that.

I'm not sure what you mean by: "But there should be a wall on the front and something screwed to the wall at the back."

Our home was constructed in 2014 in Massachusetts, if that helps narrow down how this might be constructed.
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Old 10-19-2017, 01:27 PM   #4
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Re: Working with basement ledge


Building permits sometimes require the builder to submit a set of plans to the town which often remain on file as a permanent record. Those plans might show you what was supposed to be there. Being MA and 2014 I would be optimistic.

Some stud finders are sensitive enough to detect wires but no guarantee. Also, building practices require that wires be run at least 1.5" away from the outside surface, corrections welcome. When closer to the edge they are supposed to add a nail plate fro protection.

But opening a section is a good way to get a handle on what you are dealing with.

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Old 10-19-2017, 01:30 PM   #5
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Re: Working with basement ledge


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Originally Posted by raggedsweater View Post
Thanks! It sounds like I should open part of the wall up. I was hoping to avoid that.

I'm not sure what you mean by: "But there should be a wall on the front and something screwed to the wall at the back."

Our home was constructed in 2014 in Massachusetts, if that helps narrow down how this might be constructed.
Where I am we would find the original house wall built on top of the foundation.
To add insulation we would add a 2x4 or 2x2 against the wall a little above the foundation and then build a wall on the floor to match the height of the top of the 2x4. Ours would have a 2x8 for a top piece but yours being 16" you may find wood but it could be just drywall. You can see on the outside how high the foundation is. It is usually 1 1/2" above the bottom of the siding.
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Old 10-19-2017, 01:38 PM   #6
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Re: Working with basement ledge


I'm not sure if I follow. Is there a diagram anywhere of how these is typically framed?

I'll call our town to see if there are any drawings on records. Thanks for the advice.

Here's the listing for our house on RedFin. Our house never went to market, so photos weren't taken. However, the photos shown are of our neighbor's, whose house is basically a mirror image of ours. The basement is very close to how ours looks, so you can see the ledge.

https://www.redfin.com/MA/Randolph/2.../home/55071982
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Old 10-19-2017, 01:48 PM   #7
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Re: Working with basement ledge


Could also be foam board.
https://diy.stackexchange.com/questi...dge-foundation

Something like this.
https://diy.stackexchange.com/questi...concrete/85597
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Old 10-19-2017, 07:47 PM   #8
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Re: Working with basement ledge


Also consider that the desk top would typically be at 30 inches (+/-) so the ledge will likely be the wrong height if it is only 25 inches off the floor.
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Old 10-20-2017, 10:09 AM   #9
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Re: Working with basement ledge


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Also consider that the desk top would typically be at 30 inches (+/-) so the ledge will likely be the wrong height if it is only 25 inches off the floor.
Correct! I didn't mention it, but that's part of the reason why I which to secure to the top of the ledge. I plan on adding height and securing support for a desk top.
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Old 10-20-2017, 03:02 PM   #10
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Re: Working with basement ledge


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Correct! I didn't mention it, but that's part of the reason why I which to secure to the top of the ledge. I plan on adding height and securing support for a desk top.
Put the desk under a window and it becomes a better method for egress.
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