Build a wall to close off basement from house?
Hi everyone! This is super long, I apologize, I wanted to give enough background info, though. My husband and I will likely be selling our house in two or three years, and we're trying to figure out what would be the best use of our (very limited) house renovation budget.
It's an old house that "officially" was built in 1926 but my husband found out that our town didn't start keeping building records until 1926 so any house older than that was just listed as "built in 1926" (unless of course it was a historically important house). It's a one-story victorian bungalow that has a lot of the original, wonderful features (11' ceilings, huge original 8' windows, wood storm windows, floor to ceiling butler's pantry, it has old vinyl siding but they did a great job keeping most of the original trim, nice landscaping).
We've done a lot of updating-- removed all the wallpaper, repaired the plaster walls, painted with high quality paint, uncovered and refinished the floors, renovated the kitchen (to our taste, likely won't be to most people's), gutted the bathroom (refinished the claw foot tub, added vinyl plank floor since subfloor was too warped to use anything stiff like hardwood which is what we wanted, added some storage, new toilet and sink and ceiling fan that actually vents out the roof), new duel fuel furnace and high efficiency air conditioner, we're removing the fish pond tomorrow (eye sore and electrical fire hazard), updated the electrical, fixed structural damage from termites, and i'm sure other things I'm not thinking of.
The biggest remaining problem with our house is the basement. It's wet, it smells, it makes the house smell. My husband has been working on getting the water away from the house and he's made a big improvement, but we found out a few days ago that the majority of the problem is from a horribly constructed deck that looks like it was built over the basement with NO type of ceiling ***except for some foam board insulation****!! I kid you not, I still can't believe it. The deck apparently is built over an open hole ***which is our basement***. They screwed the foam insulation to the wood supports, and then used that stupid expanding foam to "seal" around the edges. That's where the water pours in down the wall when it rains hard. So angry about that, but anyway. Live and learn.
Tearing up the deck and replacing it with god knows what is not really an option since we have very little equity in the house and have spent a lot already. So, we're considering having french drains put in to further help move water away from the house. The big thing we're also considering is building a wall to block off the basement from the rest of the house.
Right now the basement stairs come up into our laundry room, which is basically a closed-in, uninsulated (but with a central air/heat vent) porch that looks like it was added in the 70's or so. The old siding (asbestos shingle? covering the original wood siding) is still there, showing it used to be the exterior of the house. There is a door that goes outside (oh yeah, we had to replace the rotting wood door that was there, $800 for a basic steel exterior door thanks very much...). There is no door at the bottom of the stairs, the basement is completely open to the laundry room. There is a door in the laundry room that separates it from the kitchen, but it's just a very thin old wood porch door. Every time I open the door into the laundry room it pulls air up from the basement into our house.
I posted pictures here to help visualize:
What we're thinking of doing is turning that half wall into an actual wall that will completely cut off the laundry room from the basement stairs. That would mean that the only way to get into the basement would be from outside. The kitchen door (that goes to the backyard) is right there, so it's not like it would be a long walk to get there, but I'm wondering if not having interior access to the basement will reduce the value of our house. We don't have interior access to the attic, either (have to climb a ladder and squeeze through a tiny window!).
While we're building the wall we were thinking of having a toilet and small sink installed to turn the laundry room into a half bath. It should be pretty inexpensive since all the plumbing is right there, including the waste line. So that, at least, would add value since we currently only have one bath (and 2 bedrooms). We'd also have the benefit of having a better insulated laundry room that doesn't smell bad.
What do you think? Will it be a bad thing to not have interior access to the basement, even though we'd be adding a half bath at the same time?
Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of laundry room