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New Old Home Owner
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Hi all!
I’m contemplating some projects for my unfinished, unconditioned basement and would appreciate any suggestions or guidance. See the attached images.
The foundation is laid block, some interior block walls have an unknown white painted finish and some have an unknown stucco type finish. Visible exterior walls look unsealed (I have not yet done any excavation to investigate. It has a poured concrete floor with no sump or drains at all. (This house is in east Long Island, NY on sandy soil and this seems typical). 40 yo steel framed basement windows are rusting and window wells also deteriorated and need replacing. There is no access door or window. There is no recent history of flooding and seems on the dry side but I have only had a couple months of history with it. Home is placed for good drainage and no threat of flooding. There is a unsealed crawl space attached under a portion of the house. Sewage is a septic system with discharge through foundation about 2’ below grade. Ceiling is unfinished, un-insulated joist with fiber bat pushed into cavity over sill plate. Also of note is an existing unfinished w&d laundry area, oil-fired boiler, electric water heater and a water system that I have not really explored that is tied to a well (no city water).
My intention for the basement is to use it as a work shop in the short term for all the projects I want to do to the house (no garage or other out buildings), clean up the laundry area and of course secure storage. At a later date, I’m sure I will want to finish this space for use as extended living area.
The projects I have in mind, and some initial questions, are as follows:
1. Replace basement windows and window wells. Thoughts on pre-fab resin wells vs metal? Necessity for an access window/well?
2. Cut in and install exterior cellar door, steps and hatch. I want to have a large opening for full sheets ply, etc. Anything I should be aware of cutting into a block foundation? Prefab stairs, such as Bilco? Steel doors vs resin? Floor drain in stair well? Poured steps or wooden risers?
3. Sump and drains. Do I need a sump? Do I need drains?
4. Insulation. I want to seal and insulate at the sill plate. Was planning on caulking the joints and a DIY spray foam. What type of caulk? Suggestions on DIY foam?
Anything else I should be thinking of?
Thanks all!
RH
 

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Search here for insulating a basement; many threads. Some things to think about: For opening a doorway, you'll need to consider how to install a header, and what the supports for the header will bear upon. (For a narrow span like that, probably not a big issue.) Then, how are you going to keep rain away from the new stairwell into the basement? Is ground water seeping in going to be a problem? I'd plan on a drain and/or sump, just in case. If you are in a cold area, I'd go w/ fiberglass windows, as I suspect condensation would be a problem w/ metal windows; I ain't a pro on that, though.... or anything else, for that matter. If you are bringing in full sheets of plywood, ensure that the stairs slope up as gently as necessary, and/or have a wide landing so you are not fighting them into the doorway and hitting the stairs at the same time. Let me know when you are done; I have some items that need painting....:laughing:
 

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2. Cut in and install exterior cellar door, steps and hatch. I want to have a large opening for full sheets ply, etc. Anything I should be aware of cutting into a block foundation? Prefab stairs, such as Bilco? Steel doors vs resin? Floor drain in stair well? Poured steps or wooden risers?
We want to do the same to our basement, its pretty much in the same state of being unfinished as yours is.
We also want to make it easy on ourselves for lugging my boxes of artwork instead of bringing them through the garage, small laundryroom, into the kitchen, then into the foyer where the entry to the basement is located and the L-shaped stair with the landing.


Do you know what type of door you want to install? I was hoping to do a double door, one that would bring more light into the basement and where I could use a screen so I could get air during the Summer months. Even when it's hot out, its still pretty cool down there, so want to avoid having to have A/C going that time of year for the basement.
 

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AHH, SPANS!!!
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the biggest concern here is ... is the outside block wall sealed and if so how long ago? a sealed foundation wall has a life span and an unsealed foundation wall, well... putting drains in the floor is an insurance type situation that is hopefully never needed if the wall is sealed properly.
 

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What do you mean by sealed wall? Are you talking about those rubber sealant that I think they spray on the outside wall before dirt is filled back around the basement?

If so, at least for us, we didn't pay extra for that. I think they wanted something like $4,000 at the time. We haven't had any water problems except once when the sump pump got stuck and didn't turn on during a record downpour. Other than that, no water problems on the side walls or floors.
 

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AHH, SPANS!!!
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Yes, a foundation sealer is what I'm referring to. you should be ok though since you are not building interior walls that would have moisture trapped behind if water came through the exterior. your walls must be sealed from when the foundation was built or maybe even sometime sooner. Sealer has a life span estimated at about 50 yrs average. This is not really related to your other questions but I always mention foundation sealer when someone has plans for work down in a basement.
 

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New Old Home Owner
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Discussion Starter #7
Basement Foundation Upgrade

Basement Foundation Upgrade Update
Thanks for all of the input! I’ve been in the house for a couple months and here are some updates:
I realize I need to plot out what the future use floor plan would look like so I can choose which windows I want to make fully accessible and where this door should fall. Ill forward a plan for review as I work that out.
1. Replace basement windows and window wells. Windows – Putting this on hold for now until I plot out what the future use floor plan would look like so I can choose which windows I want to make fully accessible.
2. Cut in and install exterior cellar door, steps and hatch. – standing by but know I will need to plan a French drain at the base of the steps regardless of whether I use a hatch or not. Interesting idea DIY-Her about the double door and light. Ill think about that too and keep you posted.
3. Sump and drains. Do I need a sump? Do I need drains? – I’m still dry but having a rainy week this week so I should know for sure soon. Hand-drive, I excavated a bit on the exterior and it appears I do have a black sealer on the block foundation so I’m hoping I’m good. I will want to do some more aggressive downspout routing into French drains (currently spilling onto a rock!) which should also help!
That's it for now, Ill keep you posted on this project.
Enjoy the weekend, I'm sure many of us DIY-types will be busy between tending the grill and all of our projects!
RH
 

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I've had bilco type doors and you won't have a problem with rain coming in because of course the doors keep the elements out. The downside is that they let no light in. Of course you could leave the doors open when you want light down there.

I would go with wood steps. I think my stairwells are 9' long. I have taken down a lot of sheet goods. Don't forget, you can build a "slider" on one side to slide stuff down. I prefer a 4' wide staircase. A 2x10 on one side of the stairs won't take up much space. Otherwise, you can just keep the appropriate board handy to use to slide stuff down there.

I have built an exterior access which wasn't enclosed and have a half lite door on that basement. Once could put a storm door with screen on that as well. On that opening, I put a tee up and a drain for water. Plus you want the sill of the door up a bit off the floor. It faces south and lets in plenty of light. I had the formed walls sloping down, and it is only about 6' deep. The others are the same depth as the basement-8'.

I should add that the covered entries which are 9' long are 9' to the foundation wall, then there is a landing which is actually in the basement. You wouldn't have enough room for the staircase and a landing in 9'. I'm about 6' tall, and where I pass under the iron holding up the exterior walls of the structure, it is not a head-knocker.
 
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