Author Topic: Semi-Finishing a basement  (Read 852 times)

CowboyAndIndian

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Semi-Finishing a basement
« on: November 17, 2022, 05:36:37 AM »
I have an unfinished basement that I want to use as an occasional office(when the kids visit) and as an exercise area.
I want to finish this in a way that looks good, but I do not want to add framing, drywall, etc.

We downsized and bought a house in early 2021. There was an active sump pump in the basement, but I was convinced that it was surface water and I could control the problems. Long story short, it was not surface water but an underground spring or water table.

We do not want to finish the basement in the traditional way (Framing, drywall, insulation, flooring) for a couple of reasons.
  • There is a probability of it flooding. 
  • Since the kids are out of the house, the basement gets occasional use.
  • I do not want to spend $25k to get the basement finished, I'd like to keep it under $3k.

Any material nearer the ground needs to be able to get wet and be non-organic to prevent mold/mildew.

I'll add the cost and time taken for each item.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2022, 06:01:13 AM »
Step 1: Clean up.

There are many wires which go nowhere. Old cable, satellite, and speaker wires. It took a couple of hours of pulling them out and I ended up with about 10 lbs (~5kg) of junk wire. Gave it to a recycling center along with a couple of non-working dehumidifiers. The guy refused the cable wire, but when I said I did not want money for anything, he gladly took it.

While chasing the wires, I saw a lot of mice dropping on top of the HVAC duct. I vacuumed up all the droppings after I wore my KN95 mask. Because of COVID, I have so many masks of different types. Will probably never have to buy a mask for the rest of my life ;-)

New task added to list. Block all the mice entrance areas in the basement!

Cost : $0
Time: 2 hours
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 02:49:44 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2022, 08:01:02 AM »
Here is what the basement looked like in the listing. It was far dirtier and gloomier than shown in this picture.

lthenderson

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2022, 08:06:54 AM »
I think it is good practice to consider any basement to someday get wet even if it doesn't leak. I'm thinking a burst pipe or failed water heater sort of thing. I took this in account when I have refinished parts of our basement. A couple things I have done:

I have a walkout basement along with two floor drains so I have assumed that it will never get deep. With that in mind, I have installed drywall but gapped it up a couple inches from the floor and just covered that gap with PVC trim.

One of the biggest changes in how a basement feels is covering up the exposed joists, pipes and wires running overhead. In my case, since I only have eight feet clearance and didn't want to loose any of it, I installed a false ceiling system that attached directly to the underneath side of the floor joists so I loose maybe 3/4" total. The best part of it is that should I need to access an area or an upstairs leak has stained a few tiles before I got it fixed, they are easily removable and replaced. The tiles are white so it makes those areas of the basement much brighter and warmer feeling. With modern LED lights that simulate can lights of old, you can also get plenty of lighting without losing head room.

Flooring helps spruce an area up. A previous owner installed cheap laminate over much of the basement. I ripped some of it up in the bathroom area and installed tile which can handle floods. In my office/exercise room, I ripped it up and installed rubber backed carpet tiles. I thought that I could pull them up and air them out if they ever got wet. I got to test this first hand when during a major remodel upstairs, we got a huge downpour while all the gutters had been removed from the front of the house. The basement leaked in the office/exercise room for the first and only time in the 11 years we've lived here. I was able to pull up the tiles and dry them and the floor out easily. The tiles came with adhesive squares to prevent corners from curling and those got destroyed when I pulled them up but the squares of duct tape I used to replace them have held up fine in the three years since. I really like the warmth of the carpet tiles when exercising. It mutes the sounds and is easier on my joints. I still have one room of that cheap laminate flooring left but I eventually plant to rip it up and will either use tile or click lock LVP to replace it so if it ever gets wet, I can pull up the latter to dry out and prevent mold.

The false ceiling, drywall and carpeted tiles options were all very reasonably priced compared to other alternatives, especially if you provide the labor for installation. I consider both the false ceiling system and carpeted tiles easy DIY projects that require few tools.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2022, 08:23:39 AM »
I think it is good practice to consider any basement to someday get wet even if it doesn't leak. I'm thinking a burst pipe or failed water heater sort of thing. I took this in account when I have refinished parts of our basement.
This basement has serious groundwater issues. The question is not if it will flood, but when. I'll try my level best to prevent the flood, but I have to assume that it will flood sometime.

Quote
A couple things I have done:

I have a walkout basement along with two floor drains so I have assumed that it will never get deep. With that in mind, I have installed drywall but gapped it up a couple inches from the floor and just covered that gap with PVC trim.
Looking at the water stains on the staircase supports, it has flooded in the past by about a foot or so. Luckily, the HVAC is installed about 1.5 feet above the ground, so in case of flooding it might not be damaged, but the water heater is definitely at risk.

Quote
One of the biggest changes in how a basement feels is covering up the exposed joists, pipes and wires running overhead. In my case, since I only have eight feet clearance and didn't want to loose any of it, I installed a false ceiling system that attached directly to the underneath side of the floor joists so I loose maybe 3/4" total. The best part of it is that should I need to access an area or an upstairs leak has stained a few tiles before I got it fixed, they are easily removable and replaced. The tiles are white so it makes those areas of the basement much brighter and warmer feeling. With modern LED lights that simulate can lights of old, you can also get plenty of lighting without losing head room.
Totally agree with you. The ceiling needs to be hidden. I'm thinking of spray painting it black and have all downward facing lights. Sort of similar to the ceiling at a Chipotle or On the border. Like you, I have just 8 feet and losing even a few inches will make it quite bad.

Quote
Flooring helps spruce an area up. A previous owner installed cheap laminate over much of the basement. I ripped some of it up in the bathroom area and installed tile which can handle floods. In my office/exercise room, I ripped it up and installed rubber backed carpet tiles. I thought that I could pull them up and air them out if they ever got wet. I got to test this first hand when during a major remodel upstairs, we got a huge downpour while all the gutters had been removed from the front of the house. The basement leaked in the office/exercise room for the first and only time in the 11 years we've lived here. I was able to pull up the tiles and dry them and the floor out easily. The tiles came with adhesive squares to prevent corners from curling and those got destroyed when I pulled them up but the squares of duct tape I used to replace them have held up fine in the three years since. I really like the warmth of the carpet tiles when exercising. It mutes the sounds and is easier on my joints. I still have one room of that cheap laminate flooring left but I eventually plant to rip it up and will either use tile or click lock LVP to replace it so if it ever gets wet, I can pull up the latter to dry out and prevent mold.

This is one I'm struggling with. The tile would be waterproof, but right now I'm leaning toward concrete floor paint. I hate cement dust on my footwear and tracking it to the rest of the house. I think I will use those tiles on the office section and  exercise area.
Quote
The false ceiling, drywall and carpeted tiles options were all very reasonably priced compared to other alternatives, especially if you provide the labor for installation. I consider both the false ceiling system and carpeted tiles easy DIY projects that require few tools.

Thank you for the detailed reply. Really appreciate your ideas/suggestions.

« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 08:25:46 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

GilesMM

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2022, 08:33:02 AM »
How do you know your sump pump can not keep up with the water?

Villanelle

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2022, 08:53:38 AM »
What about FLOR carpet tiles, or similar?  They aren't non-organic, but are quite easy to wash.  If the basement isn't flooding often and you just want to be prepared for when it does, they seem like a great option.  We had some that did just fine in a basement flood that involved significant amounts of untreated sewage.  We soaked them in soapy water, then rinsed.  Good as new.  You can either place them so they look like an area rug, or cut them to fit like wall-to-wall carpet, or some combination. 

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2022, 09:17:21 AM »
I'll be interested to see what you come up with. Depending on the size of the basement 3k is a extremely small budget.

Two suggestions.

1) Lighting, almost every basement I've been in is unlit for any anything other than storing Christmas decoration. Adding a good number of lights makes it feel less like a damp shadowy cave and more like a living space.

2) Speaking of damp, controlling humidity in the 40-60% range will also help make it feel like a place you are willing to spend time.

SunnyDays

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2022, 10:56:46 AM »
I painted my basement floor a long time ago and it held up well for many years.  However, it's now developed a few areas of efflorescence due to normal basement dampness, and where the leaky washer is, the paint has come off completely, leaving patches of bare concrete.  But if you're consistent with dehumidifying and clean up any overtly wet spots promptly, paint is a great option.  However, you do have to etch the floor first.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2022, 12:44:41 PM »
How do you know your sump pump can not keep up with the water?
My sump pump,  like any other piece of machinery, is liable to fail after some time. Failure could be electrical/electronic, e.g. the motor and the controller. Or mechanical failure like the non-return valve or the pump mechanism failing.

The path I have taken to reduce the probability of failure is to use a very high-quality pump. There are a few pumps that are highly rated (Liberty/Zoeller) which are easily available. Others are used mostly by contractors and are not easily available. I ended up with a ProSeries pump/Controller because it was highly recommended in a plumbing forum on Reddit.

When I moved in, there was a Home Depot brand pump in the sump. I knew that would fail, sooner than later, so I had a spare ready for replacement.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2022, 12:46:11 PM »
What about FLOR carpet tiles, or similar?  They aren't non-organic, but are quite easy to wash.  If the basement isn't flooding often and you just want to be prepared for when it does, they seem like a great option.  We had some that did just fine in a basement flood that involved significant amounts of untreated sewage.  We soaked them in soapy water, then rinsed.  Good as new.  You can either place them so they look like an area rug, or cut them to fit like wall-to-wall carpet, or some combination.

@lthenderson also recommended a rubber tile like this. I think I'll use them just in the office/workout area.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2022, 12:48:53 PM »
I'll be interested to see what you come up with. Depending on the size of the basement 3k is a extremely small budget.
True, $3k is quite small, but since I am doing all of the work, it is only the cost of materials. I have the tools and there is always YouTube to learn how to do something.

Quote
Two suggestions.

1) Lighting, almost every basement I've been in is unlit for any anything other than storing Christmas decoration. Adding a good number of lights makes it feel less like a damp shadowy cave and more like a living space.
Absolutely.
I hate dark dingy areas. I am also very comfortable with electricity and plan to put lights/outlets in the basement.

Quote
2) Speaking of damp, controlling humidity in the 40-60% range will also help make it feel like a place you are willing to spend time.
Good idea. I'll put a dehumidifier in the plans and make sure I find an unobtrusive place to put it.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 12:52:11 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2022, 12:50:12 PM »
I painted my basement floor a long time ago and it held up well for many years.  However, it's now developed a few areas of efflorescence due to normal basement dampness, and where the leaky washer is, the paint has come off completely, leaving patches of bare concrete.  But if you're consistent with dehumidifying and clean up any overtly wet spots promptly, paint is a great option.  However, you do have to etch the floor first.

Good to hear that the floor paints hold up well. I would not mind repainting every few years.

Villanelle

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2022, 01:27:51 PM »
What about FLOR carpet tiles, or similar?  They aren't non-organic, but are quite easy to wash.  If the basement isn't flooding often and you just want to be prepared for when it does, they seem like a great option.  We had some that did just fine in a basement flood that involved significant amounts of untreated sewage.  We soaked them in soapy water, then rinsed.  Good as new.  You can either place them so they look like an area rug, or cut them to fit like wall-to-wall carpet, or some combination.

@lthenderson also recommended a rubber tile like this. I think I'll use them just in the office/workout area.

Flor tiles aren't rubber.  They are carpet.  There are many options, most of which are a low pile, which would be better if it might get wet, and easier to clean. 

https://www.flor.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA1NebBhDDARIsAANiDD3X5en94AieXV1-4Vh6X_AKneMi29tuQPwsxbfa2e0TeKRHRURuwUoaAmHoEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2022, 01:29:29 PM »
In case anyone is interested, here are the dimensions for the basement and the location of utilities, etc.

Whoever designed the placement of various utilities did a great job. The sump is in one corner, the furnace/water heater is behind the steps. They are all in locations that are easier to hide.

The incoming water and outgoing sewage are only on one wall. There are no pipes on any of the other walls. This again helps in hiding them.

GuitarStv

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2022, 01:33:02 PM »
How do you know your sump pump can not keep up with the water?
My sump pump,  like any other piece of machinery, is liable to fail after some time. Failure could be electrical/electronic, e.g. the motor and the controller. Or mechanical failure like the non-return valve or the pump mechanism failing.

The path I have taken to reduce the probability of failure is to use a very high-quality pump. There are a few pumps that are highly rated (Liberty/Zoeller) which are easily available. Others are used mostly by contractors and are not easily available. I ended up with a ProSeries pump/Controller because it was highly recommended in a plumbing forum on Reddit.

When I moved in, there was a Home Depot brand pump in the sump. I knew that would fail, sooner than later, so I had a spare ready for replacement.

Put in a second sump in case of failure.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2022, 02:42:07 PM »
Step 0: Add a backup pump
This was done in early 2021, not during this build.

We had a month between closing on the new house and selling our old house. This was during peak COVID, so I did not any workers in the house when we had moved in. So, during this one month, we got the hardwood floors done (severely allergic, triggered by dust from the carpet) and got a backup pump put in.

I always thought that a backup pump was always battery operated. My home inspector told me about a water-powered pump that does not need any electricity. Works off town water. This would not work if you have well water, but that is not a problem we have.  Also, having lived thru Hurricane Sandy (I'm in NJ which got hit badly) and the big east coast blackout, I've had power failures, but have never had town water supply fail. So, this was a great solution for us.

There were two manufacturers I could find during the pandemic. Liberty is very well known and of very good quality. Unfortunately, they placed the pump right at the sump which also doubles as a radon pit. So, I went with the other option, Basepump, which is available from Home Depot. My handyman spent 4-5 hours setting this up.

So, I do have a backup pump, @GuitarStv.

Additionally, I have a brand new pump, identical to what I use right now (ProSeries) which I can swap out in 5 minutes.

These have already proved their worth. When the existing pump broke, six months after we moved in, the water-powered pump kicked in. Surprising, they are very noisy.

Additionally, I got solar/battery on my house, so power failures will not impact the primary pump.

After the pump install, I found that my airtight sump cover (for radon mitigation) was not very airtight. Plenty of holes and cracks. I had to replace it, I made my own cover a few months after. I'll write more about it in another post.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 02:45:28 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2022, 03:16:45 PM »
Step 0.5: Replacing sump cover

This was done at the end of 2021. This is not really part of finishing the basement but included here in case it is useful to someone else.

The sump cover was cracked because of the installation of pumps and the addition of the water-powered pump. Without an airtight sump cover, the radon mitigation system fails.

I looked for ready-made solutions that I could buy and use. But everything I found did not meet my requirements
  • Easily remove in case pumps have to be serviced/replaced
  • Easy to put back without breaking/cracking

So, I built my own using PVC boards.

The base attached to the ground is made of 2 layers of boards, the lower board is wider than the top board. I used pocket holes and screws along with PVC cement to create the base. The joints on the upper and lower board are staggered to provide strength. I have some seals on the base.

The base holds boards that sit on the seals and fit around the pipes. Hopefully, the pictures make more sense than what I am writing. I have used duct seal compound (feels like play dough) around the pipes to create an air tight seal.

I have tested using incense sticks and do not see any leakage in the joints.

When I finish the floor, I will caulk and screw the base to the concrete as well as caulk between the boards .

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2022, 03:21:53 PM »
Here are details of my sump cover.

GilesMM

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2022, 04:20:32 PM »
So with a primary pump, solar/battery power back, a redundant backup pump operated on city water pressure AND a pump on the shelf to replace the primary when it dies, tell me again why you are so confident your basement will flood while you live there and thus are unwilling to finish it?    This would be a case where the primary pump failed AND the city water went offline at the same time?

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2022, 07:55:37 AM »
So with a primary pump, solar/battery power back, a redundant backup pump operated on city water pressure AND a pump on the shelf to replace the primary when it dies, tell me again why you are so confident your basement will flood while you live there and thus are unwilling to finish it?    This would be a case where the primary pump failed AND the city water went offline at the same time?

Long, long ago, far far away, I worked for the Indian Space Research Organization building telemetry systems for satellites. We always had a backup to the primary and a way to get things partially done even if both the primary and backup failed. The mean time before failure (MTBF) increased substantially, but there was still the probability of failure. There is always something that you do not think of. We still lost satellites in spite of having taken every possible precaution we could think of. e.g. a collision with space debris.

I have tried to increase MTBF in this case.  But, I cannot plan for a black swan event. For example, It is possible that a major storm can increase the flow of water and overwhelm what I have in place. It would not be a black swan event if I can predict it. So, my assumption is that the sump may fail in spite of my plans.

Sorry, I understand what you are saying but my geeky, anal-retentive engineer mind would not mind another layer of protection ;-)
« Last Edit: November 18, 2022, 08:01:18 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2022, 09:03:14 AM »
I painted my basement floor a long time ago and it held up well for many years.  However, it's now developed a few areas of efflorescence due to normal basement dampness, and where the leaky washer is, the paint has come off completely, leaving patches of bare concrete.  But if you're consistent with dehumidifying and clean up any overtly wet spots promptly, paint is a great option.  However, you do have to etch the floor first.

Good to hear that the floor paints hold up well. I would not mind repainting every few years.

I do not have personal experience with them, but everyone I know with an epoxy floor over their concrete loves it. Folks have them in their garage and it seems to hold up to all kinds of heavy use.

It might be worth considering for your basement floor.

DeepEllumStache

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2022, 02:21:10 PM »
I painted my basement floor a long time ago and it held up well for many years.  However, it's now developed a few areas of efflorescence due to normal basement dampness, and where the leaky washer is, the paint has come off completely, leaving patches of bare concrete.  But if you're consistent with dehumidifying and clean up any overtly wet spots promptly, paint is a great option.  However, you do have to etch the floor first.

Good to hear that the floor paints hold up well. I would not mind repainting every few years.

I do not have personal experience with them, but everyone I know with an epoxy floor over their concrete loves it. Folks have them in their garage and it seems to hold up to all kinds of heavy use.

It might be worth considering for your basement floor.

We did epoxy in the garage a few years back and love it. Easy to do, cheap, cuts the dust, has held up despite hard wear (except where our foundation shifting put cracks in it), easy to clean.

Sibley

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2022, 04:22:52 PM »
So with a primary pump, solar/battery power back, a redundant backup pump operated on city water pressure AND a pump on the shelf to replace the primary when it dies, tell me again why you are so confident your basement will flood while you live there and thus are unwilling to finish it?    This would be a case where the primary pump failed AND the city water went offline at the same time?

I 100% agree with Cowboy. Fully finishing ANY basement is a bad idea. Water flows downhill. Basements are downhill. It's not possible to think of every scenario that could cause flooding, therefore its not possible to be sure that the basement won't flood.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2022, 10:49:54 AM »
Spent two days sealing rim joists and blocking holes where mice came in. Real easy to do.

 The copper mesh is easily cut with a scissor. There are gaps where one wooden I-beam meets another where there is a big gap. Also, these wooden I-beams have circular knockouts which have sometimes been knocked out. Doing this in cooler weather was great because you could feel a draft coming from the holes. I then went back and filled foam around the mesh as well as the smaller holes that did not need the copper mesh.

I also sealed the gap between the sill plate and the concrete wall with some exterior caulk.

All of this took about 4 hours.

The next day, which was sunny, I cut out cardboard blackout covers for the windows and then checked again for gaps. Any light visible in the rim joists was filled with more caulk. I am very glad I did this step since it found about 6-7 holes that I had missed the first time around.

I already feel the basement is warmer, not sure if it is wishful thinking ;-)

Time: 6 hours.

Cost:
Copper Mesh (x2) : $28
Caulk (x3): $18
Foam (x3): $18

Total: $64

Running Total : $64
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 11:25:32 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2022, 11:18:50 AM »
Getting started with Electrical.

The first step is to get a permit. I have spent a lot of hours on YouTube understanding electrical plans to come out with this plan. I am not a professional, so I expect to make mistakes and get rejected. From previous experience with inspectors in my previous house, they are strict and will fail you, but are ready to help you fix the plan. Hopefully, this town's inspectors are as helpful. I expect approval in 3 weeks, with two or three modified submissions.

 I want lights to be about 8 feet apart so that they light the floor evenly. I want multiple outlets in the room appropriate for an office, TV, etc. The code has changed in NJ and now they expect GFCI outlets. I want to put in a GFCI circuit breaker, but a little apprehensive about putting in a new GFCI circuit in the panel. I have installed regular breakers once or twice, but this GFCI breaker will be the first time. Or I can chicken out and put a GFCI outlet for the first outlet. What do you think?

Time: 6 hours.

Permit Cost: $65

Total: $65

Running Total : $129
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 11:26:01 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

Villanelle

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #26 on: November 22, 2022, 11:38:04 AM »
(I know next to nothing about electric stuff.)  It seems like it might be nice to be able to turn on lights in one section of the basement only, but the way you have everything set up, that doesn't seem possible.  If the 3-5 lights on the lower/right leg of the "L" were all on same system, they could be on their own switch, I think.   That way, you could only light that section if you needed it.  Exactly how you divide it up, and whether you use 2 or 3 switches, would depend on how you plan to use the spaces, but I think having it set up so you can light specific areas and only those areas makes sense. 
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 11:40:53 AM by Villanelle »

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2022, 05:50:18 PM »
(I know next to nothing about electric stuff.)  It seems like it might be nice to be able to turn on lights in one section of the basement only, but the way you have everything set up, that doesn't seem possible.  If the 3-5 lights on the lower/right leg of the "L" were all on same system, they could be on their own switch, I think.   That way, you could only light that section if you needed it.  Exactly how you divide it up, and whether you use 2 or 3 switches, would depend on how you plan to use the spaces, but I think having it set up so you can light specific areas and only those areas makes sense.

Yes, you are right, no sense in turning on all the lights all the time.

There are 3 switches, each handling one part of the basement. You see them at the lower left part of the diagram, and they look like the $ sign.

Cassie

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2022, 06:37:19 PM »
My parents did their basement reasonably when I was a teenager. They painted the walls and put in a drop ceiling with carpet made for basements. It was a very thin carpet and they got water once but were able to dry it out.

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2022, 07:28:44 PM »
Either have an electrician do the GFCI circuit or do it your self with a simple GFCI in the first box.  I'm not sure how many outlets it is kosher to run in series but it seems like five is reasonable if you have them on a dedicated 15 amp breaker.

Not sure why everyone is howling about not finishing a basement. Tens if not hundreds of millions of American homes have them.  They may get a bit of water occasionally but they can be worth having and worth managing the flood risk.  I would rethink how much value this might add and consider making it more permanent and livable.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #30 on: November 23, 2022, 05:56:48 AM »
Either have an electrician do the GFCI circuit or do it your self with a simple GFCI in the first box.  I'm not sure how many outlets it is kosher to run in series but it seems like five is reasonable if you have them on a dedicated 15 amp breaker.

AFAKI there is no legal/code limit to how many outlets on a single circuit, but google keeps coming up with a practical limit of 8-10.

I almost always go for the outlets, it is more coinvent to reset them at the point of use than going to the breaker box, though that might not be as big a deal in the basement. I have a couple breakers, but they are for either hardwired items or per code where the outlet cannot be easily accessed.

Not sure why everyone is howling about not finishing a basement. Tens if not hundreds of millions of American homes have them.  They may get a bit of water occasionally but they can be worth having and worth managing the flood risk.  I would rethink how much value this might add and consider making it more permanent and livable.

That's a bit of an exaggeration. There are not even multiple-hundreds of millions of housing units in the USA, by the time you narrow the list to detached homes with a basement, finished or unfinished, there are only a few tens of millions.

Plenty of finished basements never have known issue. On the other hand plenty of them do, sometimes suddenly and costly. In the OP's case with known moisture issues and the need for an exercise area and occasionally an office space a true fully finished basement doesn't make sense.

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #31 on: November 23, 2022, 06:23:52 AM »
So with a primary pump, solar/battery power back, a redundant backup pump operated on city water pressure AND a pump on the shelf to replace the primary when it dies, tell me again why you are so confident your basement will flood while you live there and thus are unwilling to finish it?    This would be a case where the primary pump failed AND the city water went offline at the same time?

I 100% agree with Cowboy. Fully finishing ANY basement is a bad idea. Water flows downhill. Basements are downhill. It's not possible to think of every scenario that could cause flooding, therefore its not possible to be sure that the basement won't flood.
So, never finish your basement because of the probability of risk of damage at some point?  Why build anything then? This is an extreme take, and there is a risk of failure with any and every building. There will always be a risk of loss. Fire. Weather events. Thatís why

1) you do what you can to mitigate risk
2) have insurance for catastrophic failure
3) fix it or replace when it does get forked up

Do what you want, I think OPís plan is fine. But they could finish the basement in its entirety with the above three steps and be reasonably assured that everything will be ok in the end. 


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Villanelle

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2022, 08:49:17 AM »
(I know next to nothing about electric stuff.)  It seems like it might be nice to be able to turn on lights in one section of the basement only, but the way you have everything set up, that doesn't seem possible.  If the 3-5 lights on the lower/right leg of the "L" were all on same system, they could be on their own switch, I think.   That way, you could only light that section if you needed it.  Exactly how you divide it up, and whether you use 2 or 3 switches, would depend on how you plan to use the spaces, but I think having it set up so you can light specific areas and only those areas makes sense.

Yes, you are right, no sense in turning on all the lights all the time.

There are 3 switches, each handling one part of the basement. You see them at the lower left part of the diagram, and they look like the $ sign.

I guess my point was that if the lights are set up so that w few lights in each area are on each switch, you are likely going to turn all of the switches on to properly light any portion of the basement.  For example, that lower right section has lights on 2 different circuits, which I assume means they will be on 2 different switches, so it seems you'd need to turn on 2 switches to light that one small area, and you'd have lights on in other areas at the same time.  If you dedicate one switch for one area, then you'd be able to fully light one section without turning everything on.  With 3 switches, it seems you could divide it into the upper left, the lower right, and the corner area.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #33 on: November 23, 2022, 10:02:11 AM »
Wow! I'm impressed with the speed at which my permit was approved.

I gave it in yesterday at 1:30 pm. I got an email notification at 4 pm that it was entered into the system. Another email at 4:30 stated it was under review by the inspector. At 10 am today got the approval notice. At 11:30 got told to come and pick up the permit.

First I am shocked that it was approved without any modifications. Second, the speed of the approval blew me away!

Need to order electrical. Thanks to Amazon prime, I should have it in a day or so.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #34 on: November 23, 2022, 10:05:26 AM »
(I know next to nothing about electric stuff.)  It seems like it might be nice to be able to turn on lights in one section of the basement only, but the way you have everything set up, that doesn't seem possible.  If the 3-5 lights on the lower/right leg of the "L" were all on same system, they could be on their own switch, I think.   That way, you could only light that section if you needed it.  Exactly how you divide it up, and whether you use 2 or 3 switches, would depend on how you plan to use the spaces, but I think having it set up so you can light specific areas and only those areas makes sense.

Yes, you are right, no sense in turning on all the lights all the time.

There are 3 switches, each handling one part of the basement. You see them at the lower left part of the diagram, and they look like the $ sign.

I guess my point was that if the lights are set up so that w few lights in each area are on each switch, you are likely going to turn all of the switches on to properly light any portion of the basement.  For example, that lower right section has lights on 2 different circuits, which I assume means they will be on 2 different switches, so it seems you'd need to turn on 2 switches to light that one small area, and you'd have lights on in other areas at the same time.  If you dedicate one switch for one area, then you'd be able to fully light one section without turning everything on.  With 3 switches, it seems you could divide it into the upper left, the lower right, and the corner area.

I see what you mean. My thinking was to have a  low level of overall lights and then separate lights that turn on additional lights in the area. I already see that I do not need 3 switches, the overall lights can be run from the switch that run the stair lights.

I'll try and talk to the inspector if I can make minor changes. Thanks.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #35 on: November 23, 2022, 10:55:50 AM »
Either have an electrician do the GFCI circuit or do it your self with a simple GFCI in the first box.  I'm not sure how many outlets it is kosher to run in series but it seems like five is reasonable if you have them on a dedicated 15 amp breaker.
I plan to have 20Amp circuit. 5 outlets is good. I have looked at a couple of videos, the GFCI breaker does not seem hard. I just have to get past the psychological barrier of opening the panel and doing work on it.

Quote
Not sure why everyone is howling about not finishing a basement. Tens if not hundreds of millions of American homes have them.  They may get a bit of water occasionally but they can be worth having and worth managing the flood risk.  I would rethink how much value this might add and consider making it more permanent and livable.

I am not physically capable of doing a fully finished basement by myself as I turn 64 in next week. I am not ready to pay out $25-30k for someone else to finish my basement. Our usage (kids are out of the house) does not warrant spending that much for such little use.

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #36 on: November 23, 2022, 11:48:52 AM »
So with a primary pump, solar/battery power back, a redundant backup pump operated on city water pressure AND a pump on the shelf to replace the primary when it dies, tell me again why you are so confident your basement will flood while you live there and thus are unwilling to finish it?    This would be a case where the primary pump failed AND the city water went offline at the same time?

I 100% agree with Cowboy. Fully finishing ANY basement is a bad idea. Water flows downhill. Basements are downhill. It's not possible to think of every scenario that could cause flooding, therefore its not possible to be sure that the basement won't flood.
So, never finish your basement because of the probability of risk of damage at some point?  Why build anything then? This is an extreme take, and there is a risk of failure with any and every building. There will always be a risk of loss. Fire. Weather events. Thatís why

1) you do what you can to mitigate risk
2) have insurance for catastrophic failure
3) fix it or replace when it does get forked up

Do what you want, I think OPís plan is fine. But they could finish the basement in its entirety with the above three steps and be reasonably assured that everything will be ok in the end. 


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Oh, please. You guys are not reading. I said FULLY finishing. Installing wall to wall carpet in a basement with padding and everything else is not a good idea. Putting flooring, rugs, etc that are water resistant or can be picked up and cleaned if they get wet is a completely different matter. Drywall to the floor is not a good idea. Drywall down to whatever level above the floor, with some sort of plastic baseboard to make it look good will (hopefully) prevent the drywall from getting wet. Thoughtfulness about the characteristics of the specific basement you're dealing with, the risk of flooding, and material choice can result in a very nice basement that doesn't need to be gutted a few years down the line.

And if you know that the basement floods, then you proceed accordingly. I know a family who has everything on metal shelving or platforms because they get up to 6 inches of clean water in the basement, and it happens every couple years. They have adapted to the current reality of the basement.