Basement Completion

August 25, 2013

The basement construction is now complete. After the failed attempt to get the beams in place manually, the hi ho arrived and quickly lifted the beam and gently lowered them into place. As an added bonus, he operator finished the backfilling, put in the gray water holding tank and landscaped the lot.

I now have about 1500 square feet of basement. How did that happen?

I am not a fan of basements. They are generally cold, damp and dark. We had hoped to build slab on grade, no basement. But then I needed a place to put a cistern to store the rain water, a root cellar to store veggies and the central composter for our composting toilet. While it was possible to do an exterior location for the cistern and root cellar, without going to a self contained composting toilet (we have one in the shop now and it works great but not what we wanted for the house) I needed a basement location to store the central composting unit. And Ken preferred to be able to run all the pipes and electrical from the basement up. So we decided on a small part basement, under the kitchen and bathroom.

Then we met with the structural engineer. He was not a fan of our part basement:
– the floor likely would crack between the slab and the basement part
– we would need to pile the slab (although we built the shop (25’x25′) without piles)
– the cost would be more than a full basement

So we have a full basement…. including under the sunroom. Yikes. We don’t have the power during the winter to heat it (except for the small room housing the composter and hot water tank). But since we went with the insulated Styrofoam block construction and will be insulating the floor above it, we are hoping it stays above freezing.

What will we use it for? We doubled our rain water storage capacity with an extra tank and I plan for a much larger root cellar. The rest? Who knows…maybe we will grow mushrooms.

Aug 12, plastic is down and window well installed

Aug 12, plastic is down and window well installed

We put poly under under the gravel is a barrier for radon as well as moisture. On top of the poly, we have several inches of shale. We do not plan to put down concrete, although everyone thinks we should. Why no concrete:
1) I’m cheap
2) The basement won’t be heated so won’t be used for living space. (if the next owner wants to bring in hydro and heat it, there is a window they can shoot the concrete in)
3) Much of the basement will be a root cellar for which they recomend not putting in concrete
4) Did I mention I’m cheap. We only have so much funds to do the house and I can think of better ways to put that cash to use.

Next house job – joists.


About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
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