Is it possible to finish the basement of an 1897 home?

paucieApril 30, 2008

DH and I thought it wouldn't be possible to finish the basement because, although it's in good shape, it is stone, and obviously, very old. But, I just saw a listing for a Victorian home built 3 years earlier than ours, and the listing describes the basement as "finished, with a bedroom and 1/2 bath."

So, how can we figure out if we can finish ours one of these days?

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The major difference from a modern basement of block or poured concrete is that you likely won't be anchoring any walls directly to the existing foundation, as it's likely irregular and may be damaged by anchoring systems.

Otherwise, your criteria are the same: is it dry? has sufficient headroom? meets local Codes for egress?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 3:55PM
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Interesting. I have no idea about this egress business, but it's sounding like this would be the perfect project for my 82-year old grandfather who refuses to stop working. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 4:02PM
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Some 90% of American communities have adopted International Code Council standards for egress from basement living areas--essentially two separate exits from the basement. In practice, that usually means the basement stairs and an "egress" window.

Here is a link that might be useful: Egress Solutions for Basement Living Space

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 9:04PM
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Don't forget minimum height restrictions, which vary by location. Contact your local Code Enforcement division, they may have some easy to read documentation on basement finishing in your area.

IMO, older homes are a safer candidate for basement finishing when it comes to the #1 problem... water. Your basement has seen weather for 100 years, and if water came in, you should see the signs of it. If you do have some infiltration points, you can work out a fix as part of the finishing. New homes are a wild card for water issues.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 8:04AM
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"...egress from basement living areas..."

Living area depends on what you plan for the area.
If unfinished it is not generally considered "living area".
The big concern is bedrooms.

You can pour a slab in the basement no matter what ceiling heights are, as long as you do not want to finish off the area.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 3:30PM
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