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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I bought an old house in 2007 and we spent the first few years renovating the main floor and 2nd floor bedrooms. During this time, my beloved 2-channel and home theater system sat in my basement storage as the basement height was too low (6'-6'4") for the space to be much use as a rec room. Having no main floor family room, I basically had to give up listening to my music and watching movies on my 5.1 system for 2 years (!!!).


Finally, we're getting around to underpinning the basement and the project started last month. We should be getting a net height of 8'6" after the reno is done, and while I won't have a dedicated home theater or 2-channel listening room, I will have a decent amount of space to use for watching movies and listening to my music. So, like some of you, the basement is a "mixed use" facility, which means I'll have one side of the room totally "open" and therefore not great in terms of sound, as seen in the layout below:




Just for interest, here are a few photos showing the digging:


Before Construction



Excavating



More excavating & underpinning



Now, I've been lurking for some time and I have a lot of questions which I'm not sure if I should post on the specific forums dealing with projectors, screens, speakers etc....well, maybe that's the more efficient way to get my answers.


What do you guys think of the space? It might have made more sense to put the TV/projector screen on the short wall, but WAF and all, it goes on the long wall so that the "play area" for kids can flow into the TV/movie watching area. Also, I've yet to look into acoustic treatment for the walls with bass traps and diffusers etc. and, honestly, I'm not sure if my wife will go for it.
In fact, she wants the floor to be polished concrete, which can't be good sound-wise, but because we have a young baby, the basement will have lots of area rugs, so whether it's polished concrete or hardwood or tiles, I suppose it doesn't matter as long as area rugs are used - correct me if I'm wrong though!


Anyways, hope to post more as the renovation goes along. In the meantime, I'm going to ask my specific questions in the other forums - thanks for reading!
 

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holy crap!
And I thought digging up the concrete for my bathroom plumbing was a big deal. Man that looks like A lot of work, but I'm sure its gonna be well worth it. Good luck with the build
 

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That looks more like an archeological dig than a basement...
 

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Now this is a construction thread. I keep hearing Mike Holmes say, take it down, do it right!!! Keep those pictures coming.
 

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Wow, what a project! People ask all the time what will it take to lower my basement so this thread could be very helpful to those thinking about it.
 

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yes, this is what I have been looking for. Holy Bleep that must have been a lot of digging. Did you do that all by hand or bring in a dingo. I have some similar ideas for my basement, but don't even know where to start with the floor.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamis /forum/post/18326753


That looks more like an archeological dig than a basement...

That is what I thought too! Man what a project. Is this a DIY or do you have "professional" help. I would be scared to death to start digging in my basement like that. What an undertaking.


As for the room layout, it looks good. Is it ideal no, but for what you are going to be doing it should work really well and should provide years of enjoyment.


Good luck.


Regards,


RTROSE
 

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WOW!! what an undertaking and process >> I'm Subscribed.


So in the 3rd photo - I think I am seeing vertical steel beams being installed alongside the original foundation walls?


Curious were the original footings extended or "added to" any way?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the comments! I'm definitely not doing this on my own especially as I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to being handy around the house. So I've got a contractor overseeing this reno, a structural engineer to design the underpinning and complete the permit drawings in order to get the permits from the city. We're talking about the foundation of the house, so I don't think this is a DIY project for most people.

Day 1 - Breaking up the concrete floor



This is a highly labor-intensive job especially as we're going from 6'4" in height to about 8'6". Of course they'll have to dig deeper than that to accomodate the new concrete slab as well as an insulation layer and another 4" of granular. All the digging is done by hand with the help of a jackhammer. The dirt is loaded onto wheel barrels, carried to the conveyor belt, which shuttles it out the window to the driveway.

Day 2 - Conveyor belt




If you're really interested in the nitty-gritty, they have to excavate in sections around the perimeter of the basement so that the house doesn't collapse! That's why they have the "1-2-3" numbers sprayed on the wall - they dig all the section 1's, pour the new concrete footings, wait 24 hours for the concrete to dry, then apply the concrete grout to fill in the gap. This sequence takes 5 days, then they move on to section 2 and then finally 3. Each of the section is 3'4" in length. The first week was spent demo'ing the whole room, breaking up the concrete floor, removing drywall, insulation etc. Depending on soil strength and the make-up of your walls, they might have to do a 5-stage underpin design, which means it's a sequence of 5 sections instead of 3!


So we're in week 4 and they will have all three sections completed by Friday. Then they'll get ready to pour the new floor and locate the drains for the toilet, sink, etc. We had a lot of rain over the weekend so it's pretty muddy down there right now. Luckily, the weather has been warm, because they had to disconnect my boiler. They were originally going to suspend it to the ceiling, but the boiler is heavy. They did suspend the hot water tank, which is electric, so that makes it easier.

Interior area being dug out (4' in width left around the perimeter)



The steel angles you see from the photo in my first post are required because we went for a height higher than 8'. So the steel angles are there to prevent the walls from buckling inwards.


I'll post more in the coming days but, yeah, it's a HUGE job and one wonders whether it would've been easier to just buy another house with a higher ceiling basement instead of going through all of this!
Oh well, there's no going back now! And now that the underpinning is almost done, I have to get ready to make some decisions related to the home theater soon because they'll be moving onto the finishing stage of the reno.


I'm not getting a lot of responses to my questions in the other forums, so perhaps I'll ask some of them here in case you can shed some light:


1) What size of screen should I get? If I watch a mix of HD sports, blu-ray, lay PS3 games, is 16:9 the way to go or is 2.35:1 more suitable? I've never owned a projector/screen before so anything bigger than my 50" plasma will seem HUGE
I'm planning to get the Panasonic AE4000 projector.

2) Should I bother with 7.1 for the size of the home theater area? Or is 5.1 sufficient given that it's not a huge area. I can't put the surround speakers on stands and one side of the room is open so mounting surrounds on the walls won't work. So my idea is to mount Mirage Nanosat's or similarly small speakers on the ceiling - good idea? I think they'll sound better than in-ceiling speakers, right?

3) I'm still debating soundproofing, but I've got too many potential areas where sound can leak through so the recommended solution of dd + gg +hat channels will be compromised. Besides, I don't want to lose any more square footage so I'd only be able to soundproof the ceiling. I may just go with Ted White's suggestion of attaching hat channel directly to the joists and then hang 2 layers of drywall off that. I don't think I'll bother with green glue. What do you think?

Original post (and how far down they had to dig!)
 

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HOLY SMOKES!!!
In the words of Junior Johnson, the chicken is dedicated, the pig is committed! You sir are the pig! I am very impressed with your build. I know it is impolite to ask, but i have to. HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST??? I would love to do this time my lack of basement, is it charged by how deep you go? or just a flat rate as to how long it takes for them to do this? what state do you live in? And would it have been easier (and cheaper) to move into another house?


Sorry for all those questions,
my mind is just blown away right now! Your crazy! I like it... but your crazy!
 

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I'm mesmerized looking at the pictures and thinking about the process. Keep the details coming. This thread is a must read for anyone contemplating lowering their basement floor.


A lot of people will want to know what does a project like this costs.


On your question about projectors and screen size the best advice is to buy your projector and shine it on the wall. Experiment with different size images and determine what works best for your family. The most common mistake when going from a TV to a projector is selecting a too small of a screen. I made this mistake. There is no rush to buy a screen. With the Panny you really should strongly consider the 2.35:1 format screen.


One other planning detail. On the floor plan you show seating centered on the existing support pole. You may want to offset the theater a bit so that the pole doesn't interfere with potential projector mounting locations.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC /forum/post/18333336


On your question about projectors and screen size the best advice is to buy your projector and shine it on the wall. Experiment with different size images and determine what works best for your family. The most common mistake when going from a TV to a projector is selecting a too small of a screen. I made this mistake. There is no rush to buy a screen. With the Panny you really should strongly consider the 2.35:1 format screen.


One other planning detail. On the floor plan you show seating centered on the existing support pole. You may want to offset the theater a bit so that the pole doesn't interfere with potential projector mounting locations.

Can you elaborate on why a 2.35:1 format screen makes more sense for my situation? Am I totally off target in thinking that with a 2.35:1 screen, 16:9 HDTV shows and PS3 games will not fill the screen and will be smaller. But when watching hi-def movies filmed in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, I get the biggest picture possible on the screen? If I get a 16:9 format screen, the opposite is true and therefore, the trade-off is what's more important to me - watching 2.35:1 aspect ratio movies on the biggest size possible at the slight detriment of HDTV/PS3 games or watching HDTV/playing PS3 games on the biggest size possible at the slight detriment to widescreen movies?


That pole actually will move so that it is to one side of the window and not centered on it, as it's shown now. On this issue, I'm debating about moving the TV/screen to the short wall and basically shifting everything by 90 degrees. That way, I can sit a little back farther from the TV/screen. My only concern would be that the right main speaker would be located in a corner. I'm still stuck with on-wall surround speakers though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
From a dollars and cents perspective, you would never undertake a basement underpinning reno because 1) it's expensive 2) when you resell the house, most prospective buyers (unless they're an AVS member
) won't value a full height basement so you might be lucky to get 50-60% of the money you put into it. We're planning to stay in this house for a while, so even though it might not make much sense financially to do this, we're planning to get a lot of enjoyment out of the extra living space so this is worth doing for us!


Now I'm from Toronto, so I don't know if contractor margins and construction costs are similar to where most of you guys are. Pricing for underpinning a basement falls in the $40k-$50k range for an average size home. They'll cost it out based on linear feet of the room. Also, I think most base it on getting you a net 8 ft high ceiling. Obviously, depending on how the engineer has designed the underpin (soil strength, condition of existing foundation, local building code, etc.), there'll be additional costs. As I mentioned, because we went for 8'6", which is the height of the main floor and 2nd floor, they had to dig a little more and insert the steel angles and so that was an incremental cost. The cost is almost all labor - the sequencing of the excavating, concrete pouring and grouting must be followed, so there are no short cuts. And, as you can imagine, it is HARD WORK - the crew working on this job only consists of 3 people!



Anyways, back to the picture show:

Week 2: Jack posts are up and Section 1 concrete blocks poured


Close-up of concrete and bracing for it


After concrete grout has been applied


One of the Section 3's opened up


Stairs suspended to joists and plumbing stack re-routed


View from the stairs
 

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This is really cool, I'll be following this thread closely. I have an old farm house with around 6'-6.5' ceilings in the basement. I've been guessing around 40-50k for something like this, and it sounds like that's pretty close. I do have some friends that claim they can help, but it would be a scary undertaking for me. Are you going to be living there the whole time? That's my concern, do I have to move out for 2-6 months during contruction. Anyhow, good luck with the build.
 

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The more pictures I see the more this project grabs my attention. This is a very interesting project. I'm am very surprised that there is only three people working on this. I would have guessed at least six to eight.


If you can get 50 t0 60 percent back I would think that is not too bad, I would not have guessed you would have gotten half you money back. I don't get too wound up on remodel returns. I do things to my home to make it more my home, and more enjoyable for me to live in it. So if the expense of digging out your basement makes the home more enjoyable or livable for you and your family that is what is important, not what you might get back in resale value. Especially if you are going to live there for a long time. I know there are those that make improvements just for that purpose and that is fine, but it is an apples and oranges comparison. Continued progress and good luck with the project.


Regards,


RTROSE
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by swamdog /forum/post/18338824


This is really cool, I'll be following this thread closely. I have an old farm house with around 6'-6.5' ceilings in the basement. I've been guessing around 40-50k for something like this, and it sounds like that's pretty close. I do have some friends that claim they can help, but it would be a scary undertaking for me. Are you going to be living there the whole time? That's my concern, do I have to move out for 2-6 months during contruction. Anyhow, good luck with the build.

Underpinning takes about 6 weeks and it's no problem to live in the house while it's going on if you can put up with the noise and dust. It's actually a "good" reno from the point of view that the construction zone is totally separate from the living quarters.


The noise isn't too bad at all except for the first week when they were jackhammering the old floor. We have a separate side entrance to the basement so the workers just come and go while my wife and baby are upstairs. Some dust still manages to seep through to the main floor and 2nd floor even though we don't have ducts (we use boiler and radiators for heating).

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTROSE /forum/post/18339628


The more pictures I see the more this project grabs my attention. This is a very interesting project. I'm am very surprised that there is only three people working on this. I would have guessed at least six to eight.


If you can get 50 t0 60 percent back I would think that is not too bad, I would not have guessed you would have gotten half you money back. I don't get too wound up on remodel returns. I do things to my home to make it more my home, and more enjoyable for me to live in it. So if the expense of digging out your basement makes the home more enjoyable or livable for you and your family that is what is important, not what you might get back in resale value. Especially if you are going to live there for a long time. I know there are those that make improvements just for that purpose and that is fine, but it is an apples and oranges comparison. Continued progress and good luck with the project.


Regards,


RTROSE

Because you have to follow the specific sequencing in the digging, having more people on the job won't speed up the process in any way. But I agree, 2-3 people working in excavating all that dirt in a dimly lit room and walking around in knee-high boots because of the sticky, muddy soil conditions is not my idea of fun!


I complete agree with you on trying to remodel based on returns. If I were flipping the house, this would be a stupid decision, but we love the house and we hope to stay here for a while, so my family and I will certainly get a lot of value out of this over the coming years. I think if the ceiling was 7' instead of 6'2"-6'4", it would be a much more difficult decision on whether to undertake this reno. But with a beam already running down the length of the room, my head cannot clear it and I'm about 6' in height. Of course, the other option would've been to move and find a house with a taller basement, but moving brings a lot of other considerations and headaches to consider. And now that you mention it, maybe 40%-50% return for a basement reno is more realistic rather than the 50-60% I stated.
 

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Are they digging from the outside at all or just blind pouring the new footer walls up agaist the excavated dirt?
 
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