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Old 06-27-2011, 08:11 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
44 posts, read 85,179 times
Reputation: 22
Default Can you convert a basement to be a walk-out basement?

Another question on our 50-year old potential house...

The basement is not a walk-out but we REALLY want a walk-out. Is it possible to do that? Cost? Anything I need to think about?
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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I think so but that is quite a project in trying to maintain the structural integrity of the place. You need a contractor that really knows what they're doing, especially since there's already wall anchors. Ask the basement wall anchor/waterproofing contractors what they think about that sort of thing.
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
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Thanks for keeping the two questions together! We plan to come back out this Friday to meet with basement companies if our other house falls through. Are there any bug name people in the area? I think the company that did the anchors was Dawson.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Maybe someone else knows the name you're talking about; I can't find it. Unless you can confirm that name and that it's a solid business, I would start with Matthews Wall Anchor and/or Baker's Waterproofing for opinions on the state of that basement/foundation. These two have been doing this stuff for over 30 years, in other words the longevity that makes it realistic to believe they'll be around to stand behind their work.

Although these types of contractors may not do something like create a way to walk out, you can ask them for an opinion on whether that is realistic. They might say no. Or they might say well, to reinforce this and this properly would cost a fortune. Generally you CAN do anything, it's just it's often not cost effective. It may turn out to be more cost effective perhaps to find a different house.

Good luck.
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
10,732 posts, read 6,654,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joannagraham77 View Post
Another question on our 50-year old potential house...

The basement is not a walk-out but we REALLY want a walk-out. Is it possible to do that? Cost? Anything I need to think about?
Is the land surrounding the home conducive to a "walk out basement"? You have to have much of the foundation showing, or you can have a set of steps that goes up into the yard. It can of course be done, but if the foundation isn't showing in the rear, I personally wouldn't do it, unless you have a reason you want to walk up a flight of steps to get out.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:46 PM
 
Location: About 10 miles north of Pittsburgh International
2,044 posts, read 1,827,908 times
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Quote:
Is the land surrounding the home conducive to a "walk out basement"?
If, for the sake of argument, the yard could be excavated to reveal the bottom of the foundation, and leave a relatively flat area to walk out into, there will be another complication...

(And just in case anybody is unfamiliar with the terminology, a "footer" is the concrete structure that the block foundation walls are built on.)

Generally a foundation that's below grade will have the footers right there, just below basement floor level. Where a foundation is exposed at basement floor level, as you'd have in a "walk out" basement, the bottom of the footer will be at least three feet below grade. That depth is considered the "frost" level in this part of the country. In the winter, if the ground beneath a footer freezes, it can heave upward, actually lift the structure, and cause structural damage.

Exposing the footer to frost heave by excavating to create a walk out basement would be a bad thing.
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
10,732 posts, read 6,654,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditchdigger View Post
Exposing the footer to frost heave by excavating to create a walk out basement would be a bad thing.
True and if you want to squeeze a set of steps to the backyard from the basement, you will have a drainage issue. If you want to put a drain at the bottom of those steps it is a huge job. You can put Bilco doors on the opening instead of a drain, but all this is one big pain and I suggest against it. That drain needs to go to where the downspouts go and no in the sanitary system.

It would be a very rare case that you could put a door to the backyard from a basement that wasn't in the original plan. Not saying there isn't a home out there with a fully exposed rear and for some reason no door, but rare.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
44 posts, read 85,179 times
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This is a very helpful response! Thanks very very much. Here's some data... It was Matthews, not Dawson..

Concerning the walk-out, we would have my parents live in the basement so we would want them to have more light and 'normal' ability to exit. Plus, we have dogs that would most likely prefer to spend their time in the basement do we'd need a way to let them out. The yard is gargantuan so there would be room for stairs. I don't think the back wall is exposed since the windows are tiny, but I could be wrong. The issues mentioned do give me pause so thanks for the response. Again, we aren't afraid of remodels since my parents actually build houses so that's no issue. The concerning part is we do not have basements in Texas so my parents would nit be experts in that obviously we would use local subs but we don't want assume basement remodels like this are the same as an above ground remodel.


Ps starting another thread shortly on another house we have just found. Ha!
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,871 posts, read 8,534,209 times
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That sounds like probably too much of an undertaking for the existing house.

But if you're going to continue to pursue that house, certainly talk to Matthews, have them out, find out what the status of all that stuff is and why it might not be working, whether it needs more work or is covered under something they did before, etc. It's possible Matthews only did the wall anchors and the sump and other things were not their work and thus they may not be able to vouch for those.
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:55 PM
 
Location: ELFS
4,307 posts, read 2,733,763 times
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Have you thought of buying a house that has a garage apartment your parents could live in? These are all over Squirrel Hill and other (older) East End neighborhoods.
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