Building a basement man cave, what are the risks.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Parx400, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    I am looking at buying a home that has a very large basement. The first floor is about 5.5 feet off the ground and the basement is about half a foot lower than the grand level. The basement is about 6 feet tell and is the whole floor plan size with a large wide door on the outside. Its about 1000sf. The house has no garage so this would halt to be my shop. I could easily get a dirt bike in and out of there. My caponord would go in easy but getting i out would require running it and walking next to the bike. There is a small 3-4 in drop at the door.

    Only half of the basement has cement so I plan to dig the other part down 1-2 feet. I'm 6,2 so I need a bit more height to stand up in about 2/3 of it. 1/3 is already dug down. My main question is what are the risks of having you shop under the house? The lower part has 4 or 5 windows plus the big door so I could easily vent the room. Should I not store any gas inside?

    I could prob get a small tough shed for the outside next to the house. There is slab there but in the city of sac it can't be more than 120sf or you have to get a permit.

    Anyways Tell me what the risks of this are that will burn or blow up my house.
    #1
  2. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    Compared to an attached garage, the risks are the same with the exception of hazardous/flammable fumes which can settle on the basement floor and not escape. In a garage, if you have the big door open, the fumes will exit through the door (eventually, or by use of a fan) while in the basement they will pool. I'd look into what options are available for safely evacuating fumes from the floor. Windows aren't much help here if the fumes are below them.
    #2
  3. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    The things we did in Dad's basement with our motorcycles back then....he did not mind so much as he was building an airplane in there, lots of tools.:clap

    I have to push my bike over a bump to put it in the shed so I built a removable ramp that goes over the bump. But watch out, depending on ramp height may hit your centerstand and make you tip over right in the door.:eek1

    No gas/oily rags for sure and buy more than one large fire extinguisher and put them right by the access doors NOT buried down the shop. Altough I get free training with them at work, I'd suggest you learn to use them first. In the excitement of a possible fire, not a good time to learn with the smaller ones.:eek1
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  4. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

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    Check how deep the foundation is compared to how deep you want to dig out. You don't want to under mine or go deeper than the bottom of the foundation.
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  5. zap2504

    zap2504 Dave E.

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    I'm 6' 3" and my basement is also 6' high. Not ideal by any stretch, but still doable. However, I have no direct access from the outside so I am relegated to storage, subsystem teardown/repair and painting (during warm months when I can vent the area). I also use the area for other functions and have learned to duck down under a couple water/steam/gas pipes and stand between floor joists for comfortable headroom. Your outside door is a big plus. Every bike will emit explosive fumes if there is any gas in the tank so you will probably need to remove any tanks and store them outside the basement (unless completely empty).
    #5
  6. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    1/3 of it is already cemented so I will just duck in that section. The rest is dirt so I can dig down there. I'm going to find out how deep the foundation goes and try to limit my dig to that. The cement on the floor should act like a support once its in there. I'm only going to do this a small section at a time and not go lower than the foundation. if the foundation is very shallow I could cement supports next to it all the way around the house.

    I will keep all fuel outside in a shed unless its the fuel on the bike. If I have a big fan with the windows and door open will that be enough to keep the fumes out of there?
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  7. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    Here is a few pics.

    Outside door. Might need to dig down. I can get my dirt bike in there no prob but the capo windsheld maybe too tall.

    [​IMG]

    First unfinished room. this one is over 6 feet but i would need to take the door out.
    [​IMG]

    pretty good size.

    [​IMG]

    Half of the middle room. If extend to the left all the away to the other side of the house.

    [​IMG]

    Unfinished front room. again this is only half of it. It goes the to the left and is twice the size it appears.

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. QSrider

    QSrider Adventurer

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    I did it for a while. Something to keep in mind... It never felt unsafe for anyone in the house. The biggest problem is as soon as you do something, since it was not made to be a shop initially, every body else hears it or smells it. It drove the rest of the family nuts. Touch the angle grinder, the brake cleaner... and everybody in the house hates you :lol3
    My detached shop now is much better. But if that's all you have, I would say go for it.
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  9. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    ya Its a house in downtown sac so we would not be able to build a shop. We are looking into buying it and my gf really wants this one. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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  10. walkingbear

    walkingbear Long timer

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    When we were converting townhouse in Washington DC row houses the basement were the same size. We would ge a couple of day workers and completely break up the floor to the footers. Re-inforce the footers and
    dig out two feet and half feet of dirt. Pour a concrete slab (4-5 inches) and
    call it a day. I would add exhaust fans in the lower level if you are going to work down there or you can buy a small metal building, pour a slab and doors and have an outside workshop
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  11. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    Any more info on the re-inforiceing you did?

    Since it has windows already I could put cheap fans in the window in there and have them suck air out of the room .
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  12. walkingbear

    walkingbear Long timer

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    You need to see how far the footings are into the ground. When the house built? That will tell you the the codes that were used during that era. Instead of digging next to the footing you might want to dig a few inches away. There are a couple of builders on this site. Maybe they can jump in and give advice.

    When we did it.. we braced all the supporting interior supports (steel columns to support the top joist).

    The rows houses I worked one were built in the 1800's. They had hugh brick and stone foundations. They were going to move. The footers you are working on might be only 18-24 inches wide. You need to find out when it was built and how deep.
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  13. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    Cheap fans sure....but not that cheap that they may ignite flammable fumes.I'd give you a big squirrel cage fan if you were closer, but I don't think it is explosion proof.:eek1

    Don't remember, I bought such an explosion proof fan years ago to set in my friend's shop, don't think it costed too much then. $200.00 (???) and lots of CFMs.

    And then got him to buy a "chemical" locker to keep all his chemicals/flammables in a safe spot. Yes his commercial shop is attached to the house and both share the basement that is also part of the shop.
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  14. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    House was built around 1905. Iwill have to check on all of that.
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  15. sacbandit

    sacbandit Adventurer

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    I have lived in sac my whole life. I did build a 20/24 shop at my last house. As long as your lot has the right set back and garage is at least 10 feet from the main house you should be able to pull a permit, if you dig down be careful, the sac river water table and the city mixed sewer will fill up your basement, hope this helps, doug
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  16. walkingbear

    walkingbear Long timer

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    I have to agree about the water table in that area. Steel buildings are fairly cheap and good way to go. I bet they would be about the same cost.

    Pour a slab,erect a building in 3 days, run the electrics and there you go.
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  17. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    This house is at 25th and E in midtown. No room at all for a shed that big with out taking out the whole yard. I might be able to put a small 10x10 next to the house to store gas and other stuff in that I don't want in the basement. Like I said its almost not a real basement since the true first floor of the house is about 6 feet off the ground. Its more of an unfinished first floor.

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I put an offer in on the house today.
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  18. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    Long story short I think we will be getting this house. I will add some more pictures and get more advice.

    Both hot water heaters are in the basement so I need to know the risk of keeping gas in the bikes. I can keep all extra gas outside in a shed.
    #18
  19. Skinner

    Skinner Mr.KTM

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    Biggest risk I see is your wife can come own and bug you way too easily :lol3
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  20. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

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    Suggestions:

    Check with your insurance agent to make sure having a bike inside won't allow the insurance co to avoid paying a claim in case of a fire.

    Don't forget to Install CO and smoke detectors.

    Install a vapor barrier and drywall on the ceiling to make it harder for fumes or fire to come through your floor.

    As previously suggested, install an explosion-proof fan, and buy one of these for shop rags:

    [​IMG]

    Re: fans, perhaps one made for a boat engine compartment would be cheaper than a paint spray one.

    Careful that you don't undermine your foundation. Google "underpinning".
    #20