Planning a basement

The basement is unfinished and the ceiling is too low for anyone taller than 5’6″ to spend a lot of time down there.

The back side of the basement as it is (but without the pump room drawn in)
The back side of the basement as it is (but without the pump room drawn in)

Under the addition that was added in the 30s the ceiling is even lower. That space consists of the hallway to the basement door and, next to it, the small “pump room” where the indoor plumbing first came into the house.

The rest of the space, under the office and sunroom (formerly the back porch) is 5′ ceiling, dirt floor, and the remains of a huge carpenter ant nest (which may be active again for all I know).

When we contemplated the new addition, it was clear that the space under the old addition should be dug out and made into more useable space. But what about the 10′ wide space under the new addition?

If we want to rein in the costs of the renovation, the standard answer is to put this section on posts and create a crawlspace of some kind. It could be walled in or open to the air. Certainly we don’t have unlimited funds and we have to stop somewhere.

However, I couldn’t wrap my head around such a wasted opportunity. We were planning to dig out a new space anyway, why should we not dig a little more, pour a foundation around the whole new addition and give ourselves a nice piece of basement with a reasonable ceiling?

By this time, I was thinking about energy efficiency, too. Our bath and shower were planned for the corner of the house that would be hanging out over a poorly insulated crawlspace. Of course, we could insulate the crawlspace, but if we did that, why wouldn’t we make that crawlspace a living space? Even the porch floor would be warmer if there was a heated space under it.

Crawlspaces under porches are good places to store stuff, but, knowing us, we would put stuff under there and never see it again. No matter how we tried to keep animals out, it would also wind up being a zoo, I know it.

The planned new basement room. Adding 10' to the unused portion of the existing basement nets us quite a large new basement space
The planned new basement room. Adding 10′ to the unused portion of the existing basement nets us quite a large new basement space

So here is what we did. The new basement door will be accessed down some outdoor stairs and you will step up into the existing basement.

As for money, getting this much new space for the cost of some extra digging, concrete, etc. is a bargain, methinks.

Digging out the existing basement to make the whole basement useable space with good headroom? Unh-unh, no way, we’re not made of money! [Maybe you can predict where this story is going.]

So now you can match the planned main floor with the planned basement.

The planned main floor
The planned main floor

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James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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