Framing ideas
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    Framing ideas

    I am not sure how well I will be able to describe this challenge (or even represent with snapshots). When we built this house in 2011, we put in a 2 step sunken family room on the first floor. The 2nd step was a suggestion from the builder with a recommendation to sink the corresponding floor in the basement. I thought this was a cool idea. Since the house has been built, I have been struggling with how in the heck I would finish this space someday. Someday has arrived.

    So, the issues are as follows. In the perimeter of this sunken basement floor, there are 3 columns. Actually, there are 4, but 2 are in the same place and will get boxed in together. I would prefer to sink 2 of them into walls to make them disappear.

    One of the many things that have baffled me along this way is how I transition flooring from a concrete slab to another concrete slab. I plan to reduce this problem by closing in 2 of the walls and half of the third. So I will have a step down that is about 8 feet wide. The thought now is carpet in the lower area and laminate in the upper. I figure we can wrap the carpet up the face of the concrete, but I am not sure what to do with the edge of the laminate! I need to decide on a flooring and see if they recommend/support the gluing of a bullnose stair edge of some sort. The problem is the distance, I have seen some that are 3-4 feet long, but nothing that will do 7-8'.

    From there, I plan to run walls on the transition lines. But how? I will post some pictures below. If I run the walls on the top of the steps, it is easy to pick up the columns. But, how do I finish the walls in the inside of the sunken room? If I run the walls with a bit of overhang over the step edge, the drywall could just hang in daylight. Would this haunt me? How would I attach base trim. I have considered running 2X6 walls with an inch of overhang and then during some sort of furring strip down the face of the step to attach the drywall. This sounds like a PITA to me, and may not look right. I also considered just doing two 2x4 walls, one high, one low. It will make a thick wall, but will be easy framing. AND the price of 2X6s is almost double the cost of the 2X4s. I have a 9'foundation, so the "upper wall" is close to 9' high. This would further increase the price of the 2X6s.

    Here are some pictures. Don't mind the awful mess. I keep moving crap around as I work and I swear the pile gets larger with every move.

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    Odd idea

    It's a bit unorthodox but consider framing your wall with 2x4 conventional framing on the top side and then running 2x4 flat down the studs to the bottom of the low side. Use a power nailer to nail the flat studs into the concrete and/or construction cement. You could accomplish almost the same thing by running furring strips down instead of the flat 2x4's but I tend to over build things. I would also consider if you ever want to place an electrical outlet on that transition area. If so, you need enough spacing for at least a slim box. (Great spot to plug in a vacuum.) Whatever you use could be continued across the step down which would give you a place to attach the bullnoze, carpet or whatever you want in the transition.

    Just attaching a furring strip to the top and bottom of the concrete will work as well. I don't think you want unsupported sheet rock although some people would just put construction cement on the concrete and nail it to the studs. Even in a dry basement, I'm leery of attaching sheet rock directly to concrete but it's certainly been done.

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    I cannot give much advice on how you should do things because there are too many unknown details that the pictures do not show.

    This is why there should always be a plan. Your builder talked you into making a snap decision that you are now going to have to deal with and it is now going to cost you more money than it should have.

    What about setting the walls inside the lowered area & then putting a box around each post & beam?

    A floor plan drawing with sizes & locations of posts, beams & intended openings would be a lot of help.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treefarmer View Post
    It's a bit unorthodox but consider framing your wall with 2x4 conventional framing on the top side and then running 2x4 flat down the studs to the bottom of the low side. Use a power nailer to nail the flat studs into the concrete and/or construction cement. You could accomplish almost the same thing by running furring strips down instead of the flat 2x4's but I tend to over build things. I would also consider if you ever want to place an electrical outlet on that transition area. If so, you need enough spacing for at least a slim box. (Great spot to plug in a vacuum.) Whatever you use could be continued across the step down which would give you a place to attach the bullnoze, carpet or whatever you want in the transition.

    Just attaching a furring strip to the top and bottom of the concrete will work as well. I don't think you want unsupported sheet rock although some people would just put construction cement on the concrete and nail it to the studs. Even in a dry basement, I'm leery of attaching sheet rock directly to concrete but it's certainly been done.

    Treefarmer
    I like the idea of the 2X4 furring strip. Although, since you mention the below grade concrete, the rule of thumb is that any wood touching concrete should be treated. This increases the cost of any furring strip option and honestly wasn't on my radar until just now. The complete double wall idea seems like such a waste of space, but when it comes to cost, may end of up being a wash. The continuation of the inside wall would definitely provide a great place to attach a transition, as well. I hate to sacrifice square footage, but we are talking about 4" on each side of the room here. Considering the return on investment for finishing basement space, I might just need to roll with that. Of course, it is also more walls to frame, but easy walls compared to any sort of creative engineering I have been considering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisR View Post
    I cannot give much advice on how you should do things because there are too many unknown details that the pictures do not show.

    This is why there should always be a plan. Your builder talked you into making a snap decision that you are now going to have to deal with and it is now going to cost you more money than it should have.

    What about setting the walls inside the lowered area & then putting a box around each post & beam?

    A floor plan drawing with sizes & locations of posts, beams & intended openings would be a lot of help.
    I am not sure I would call it a snap decision. This design change was drafted in the original building plans, approved my the county and executed. At the time, though, we did not contract the builder to finish the basement. If I was paying him to finish the basement, I am certain that he would have a plan for this. I have a great relationship with the builder (even 6 years later) and even considered asking him to come out and discuss how he would do it. But, the reality is, I respect that he is in the business to make money. He is not in the business to come out and give me free construction consulting. That is why I have you guys!

    I have the original construction plans, but all that are on them for the basement is notional basement layout. Just like the builder would, I am looking at the cost in the big picture. From a drywall and finishing perspective, burying those columns into straight walls reduces drywall installation labor and finishing costs. I also have to deal (although maybe difficult to see in the photos) with the floor joists from above. Walls only on the inside will mean more soffit work which, again, increasing drywall complexity. The more I write, the more I am thinking I just need to make double walls around this space. It pains me, but is really the easiest thing to do.

    I can post a copy of the construction drawing tonight. I only have a PDF here and I don't believe I can post PDF on the site.

    Lee
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljnelson109 View Post
    I am not sure I would call it a snap decision. This design change was drafted in the original building plans, approved my the county and executed. At the time, though, we did not contract the builder to finish the basement. If I was paying him to finish the basement, I am certain that he would have a plan for this. I have a great relationship with the builder (even 6 years later) and even considered asking him to come out and discuss how he would do it. But, the reality is, I respect that he is in the business to make money. He is not in the business to come out and give me free construction consulting. That is why I have you guys!

    I have the original construction plans, but all that are on them for the basement is notional basement layout. Just like the builder would, I am looking at the cost in the big picture. From a drywall and finishing perspective, burying those columns into straight walls reduces drywall installation labor and finishing costs. I also have to deal (although maybe difficult to see in the photos) with the floor joists from above. Walls only on the inside will mean more soffit work which, again, increasing drywall complexity. The more I write, the more I am thinking I just need to make double walls around this space. It pains me, but is really the easiest thing to do.

    I can post a copy of the construction drawing tonight. I only have a PDF here and I don't believe I can post PDF on the site.

    Lee


    I was referring to your plan for future finishing of the basement space. If you had a plan for that, you would not be having these issues. You keep bringing up that ideas are going to cost more.
    It is going to cost more to do it right. There is no low cost fix for this.
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    Have you thought about an epoxy coated floor with vinyl chips.

    Our builder just did his basement floor with this and it looks great. And is very durable. You could paint the floors one color and the do the riser of the step a different color.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J3 Driver View Post
    Have you thought about an epoxy coated floor with vinyl chips.

    Our builder just did his basement floor with this and it looks great. And is very durable. You could paint the floors one color and the do the riser of the step a different color.
    Flooring is definitely still an open discussion! Although some people can't fathom doing a basement the way I do (this is my 3rd house designing the basement as I build) I have seen many benefits to making the decisions as things come together. I have already added a closet that was not planned as I looked at how the corner of the bathroom was coming together. On paper, the bathroom would have been smaller, but the complex ductwork and other utilities, made moving the wall out much more efficient. In the end, this made an area that lent itself to a closet that I expect will be very useful. Cost is also a major factor for us, we shop materials as we go (including building materials auctions) and grab deals as we come across them. I have already bought a shower panel for the bathroom that was not in the plan, but needed to be decided before I rough in the shower plumbing. I am keeping detailed financial records on this one since I have always wondered what my final cost was when I have done my basements this way. Finishing a basement is so different than most other construction. You already have a shell that provides all of the structure. My biggest problem in this basement is the immense amount of utilities that come with a modern energy efficient home. I have way more ductwork in this ceiling than any house I have ever owned. I get to play with sprinklers, yay! And this sunken floor/ceiling fun....

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    Quote Originally Posted by ljnelson109 View Post
    One of the many things that have baffled me along this way is how I transition flooring from a concrete slab to another concrete slab. I plan to reduce this problem by closing in 2 of the walls and half of the third. So I will have a step down that is about 8 feet wide. The thought now is carpet in the lower area and laminate in the upper. I figure we can wrap the carpet up the face of the concrete, but I am not sure what to do with the edge of the laminate! I need to decide on a flooring and see if they recommend/support the gluing of a bullnose stair edge of some sort. The problem is the distance, I have seen some that are 3-4 feet long, but nothing that will do 7-8'.
    The major laminate flooring manufacturers all have 8' long bullnose stair moldings for their products. If you go buy your laminate at someplace like Costco or Walmart you may run into problems but any major lumber yard should be able to order the stair molding for you that matches the laminate they sell. I know for a fact that Lowe's and HD can do this on the name brand stuff they sell.

    From there, I plan to run walls on the transition lines. But how? I will post some pictures below. If I run the walls on the top of the steps, it is easy to pick up the columns. But, how do I finish the walls in the inside of the sunken room? If I run the walls with a bit of overhang over the step edge, the drywall could just hang in daylight. Would this haunt me? How would I attach base trim. I have considered running 2X6 walls with an inch of overhang and then during some sort of furring strip down the face of the step to attach the drywall. This sounds like a PITA to me, and may not look right. I also considered just doing two 2x4 walls, one high, one low. It will make a thick wall, but will be easy framing. AND the price of 2X6s is almost double the cost of the 2X4s. I have a 9'foundation, so the "upper wall" is close to 9' high. This would further increase the price of the 2X6s.
    Are you willing to get a little creative? Just looking at it, if it was my basement, I'd building the wall down on the lower level. Then I'd box in those posts. To hide the posts a little I'd line that side of the wall with built-in shelves the full length of the wall and make the shelves the same depth as the boxes around the posts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    The major laminate flooring manufacturers all have 8' long bullnose stair moldings for their products. If you go buy your laminate at someplace like Costco or Walmart you may run into problems but any major lumber yard should be able to order the stair molding for you that matches the laminate they sell. I know for a fact that Lowe's and HD can do this on the name brand stuff they sell.

    Are you willing to get a little creative? Just looking at it, if it was my basement, I'd building the wall down on the lower level. Then I'd box in those posts. To hide the posts a little I'd line that side of the wall with built-in shelves the full length of the wall and make the shelves the same depth as the boxes around the posts.
    Jim,
    I was looking briefly at a brand name bamboo flooring and called the manufacturer directly. I was surprised to learn that they only had the 4' lengths. I did not research this with a laminate flooring vendor. I am glad to hear that is not standard practice.

    As for the built-in shelves, I like that idea a lot. That would be a lot of shelves, but definitely offers a value for the decision to box in those columns. One of the walls will be enclosing a spare bedroom, so the shelves could be a feature/storage in that room. The other two walls are more or less partitions (and ways to reduce the step hazard/transition) so I was already planning to open the upper halves for a ledge. We did something similar with a partition into the sunken space upstairs. See picture. Now that we are talking about this, I could leave open space below that ledge for knee space and put stools there! This is the kind of gears turning that I was looking for when I posted this.

    Click image for larger version. 

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