refinishing basement in new home

Old 01-01-03, 11:39 PM
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refinishing basement in new home

We are planning on refinishing our basement and are wondering if it is too soon. The house was finished in Sept 2002 and we just moved in. We are planning on in refinishing the basement. We will have a main family room type area, a 1/2 bath, and laundry room.

I read on another site that you should wait until the house settles before finishing the basement. Is this true? We are musicians and plan on making the family room a practice area. We thought for resale value we would have the cable, phone, etc. put in at the same time.

This is our first house and we want to do things right. Any thoughts?

Old 01-02-03, 03:53 AM
Doug Aleshire's Avatar
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Congratulations on your new home!

The issue of waiting to let the house settle to do your basement is something that you will have to decide. If your soils were good, the ground was dry, normally the foundation would not settle very much, if at all. This is a common occurrence but we are not talking about major settling. I would suspect, that the soils that were excavated and backfilled will experience more settling than the actual home. Code says that foundations must be resting on undisturbed (unexcavated) soils thus virtually eliminating the issue of settling of the structure. Older homes that were built years ago suffer from this because of poor foundations and/or soil conditions.

House settling means simply that the home has conditioned itself to the environment. All the materials used in its construction have completely dried and stopped moving. However, the other side of the coin is ground settling which deals with the earth around and beneath a home. If there's too much moisture or water, then the ground doesn't settle properly and some portion of the home may start to sink. If there's normal settling, then the house itself along with the drying materials will cause some movement in the home.

All this movement causes stress on both the materials and the overall structure of the building. Cracks—normally found in the walls, corners of walls, or up near the ceiling line—reveal this stress. It's time to worry when you find doors and windows out of square, sagging room floors, and beams in the crawl spaces or basement that are sinking or out of alignment with the beam/header. Also cause for worry are basement floors or foundations showing up-heaving and/or sinking, large cracks in the foundation, and water in the crawl space or basement. When you find these types of problems, contact an independent Home and Building Inspector to assess the problem.

With a home built in the mid to late summer, I would suspect little movement if any and your foundation will be fine. Any improvements you make within the basement should be ok. You may want to wait until spring to ensure that the items mentioned above do not occur first. If so, it's time to call the contractor back.

Don't forget, a building permit will be required for this project.

Hope this helps and Happy New Year!

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