Basement is “done”

My contract with this Builder was to create a 7 foot basement. He gave me 6 ½ feet instead. One of his many delightful surprises.

With flooring, that will make it pretty much my son’s height and into an unusable family space. However, it is square footage we never had before and hopefully we can get something good out of it, other than storage. Maybe a ping pong or fussball table?

View from one end to the other (south to north).
Looking into space from the old basement.
View of the pass through to the old basement.
This is what my old basement looks like, crammed full of stuff.

The old basement will always be short and mostly useless, other than laundry and storage. I had hoped for more from the new basement. We’ll see what I can eventually make it into.

At least now the formerly bowing basement wall is no longer a danger to the house. In fact, the Builder tells me I could (theoretically) take down the entire wall between the two basements, because the engineered beam that the addition is built onto is also supporting the original house. I’m not going to test that theory without consulting an engineer.

Baby steps

Three weeks after asking the builder to provide the 7′ basement he promised, he is still waiting for a new drawing from the engineer. I don’t understand the processes involved here, but for whatever reason the original drawing (acknowledged as crappy, done by a ‘designer’) would not do if we are digging down a foot, so the engineer had to do an entirely new drawing. It may have had something to do with the vague references on the old drawing regarding roof trusses and basement entry way.

In any event, the engineer is now on week two of completing the new drawing and the builder is still waiting to dig down. Properly, he won’t do it until the engineer formally approves the change.

Last week I took down what was the coal room. It had been used more recently as a cold storage room. I took off the door, the shelving, and part of the wall. This is where the door to the new basement is going to be.

Coal and cold storage room
Shelving in coal/cold storage room








View into corner of coal/cold storage room where gas meter is usually located









Coal from the wall where the shelving came down

The builder started framing the main floor and today broke through the basement wall. Very cool.


Where the doorway to the new basement will be

Also good news is that the builder has hired back the project manager that he had lined up for the previous fall. This man is much better at explaining what is going on and I have a bit of confidence now that the builder actually intends to move the project forward. Since the project manager arrived on the scene, work appears to be getting done and the work site itself is cleaner and more professional.


Baby steps.

Concrete walls are in

Pouring of concrete into the ICF  (insulated concrete forms) started yesterday around 8am. The builder showed up alone. He had paid his helper the day prior, which resulted in a classic post-payday “sick day” for him. Luckily for the builder, one of the concrete supply guys offered to help.

I know the builder expected the job to take only a few hours, because he booked a second-opinion plumber to come at 10am. But it took until 3pm to finish pouring the walls, and what a mess they made! I have no idea if this is normal, but since my plan had been to leave the ICF wall as is/uncovered in the basement (particularly if all I’m getting is a crawlspace), I will now have an ugly mess for a wall. They also kicked the walls everywhere to ‘tap’ the concrete down to the bottom. The kicking left indents on the styrofoam wall. I don’t know anything about ICF, but I’m pretty sure that kicking the wall wasn’t the inventor’s planned means to get the concrete to the bottom.  A Fine Homebuilder post indicates that multiple helpers, tamping rods, and a vibrating attachment on a drill are what are used to settle the concrete properly in the form. In that post, their forms were filled in 2 hours. Mine took 7 hours and was only three walls.

Concrete that missed its mark

Anyway, at 3pm, the builder disappeared without a word. Since I had been waiting all day at the house to let the second-opinion plumber in for a tour, I was quite annoyed that this tour didn’t happen and that the builder left without telling me he was done for the day. And, since this is a long weekend, I won’t see or hear from him until next Tuesday and am left hanging on the important question of whether this can be a full basement or not.  Am I allowed to swear on a blog?

Somebody is bad at their job

Yesterday my builder told me that my new 7′ ICF basement is actually going to be just under 6′ high.

I don’t think something under 6′ constitutes a basement, but rather a crawlspace. Certainly with me being almost 6′ tall, I won’t be able to walk freely down there, and my son, who at 13 is 6’2″ tall and continues to grow, will have to crawl. It’s shorter than my current basement. It’s a crawlspace.

How is this not something the builder could have assessed at the time we discussed basements a year ago?? He knew the current building code, he knew my present basement height, so how could he have promised me a 7′ basement?? He’s trying to pin it on the designer.

I’ve asked him to go back to the engineer to see whether we can dig down a foot between the footings, which would give us about 10 feet in the middle where we can walk and maybe play ping pong.

Also, the said builder has not worked a full day yet. Every day there is some reason to leave early.