This past weekend my parents came to see Project Philadelphia for the first time! I walked them through what we have done and one thing that really stuck out to them was the basement… it didn’t have a floor and was instead covered in dirt.
So as we do, let’s talk Real Estate, let’s talk DIRT-Y BASEMENTS…
Believe it or not dirt floors are actually pretty common in older homes. Project Philadelphia was originally built in 1910 so discovering a dirt floor after we cleaned it out was not totally unexpected.
We originally cleaned it out back in July of 2018, and have pretty much left it alone after we parged the walls, so to be totally honest, when we went down to the basement this weekend, I had forgotten it was a dirt floor. I could have sworn we threw concrete down there. I immediately panicked and thought – well what DID we do down there?! Luckily, I have been keeping a daily diary throughout this entire renovation and was able to dig back into this.
SO WHY DIDN’T “FINISH” THE FLOORS?!
We knew from the day we bought this property that this would be a rental property. Because of that, we made the decision to not dig out the basement or finish it up. Our goal was to just clean it out so that we could run new duct work, electrical and gas lines. We poured small concrete blocks for the water heaters and furnaces to sit on, but that was about it in terms of preparing the floor down there. We also decided it would be best to parge the walls so that we could help better protect the foundation from rain, ice and snow, while adding further reinforcement to the basement walls. Essentially we felt that as long as the basement and foundation were safe and did not pose any threats, we were OK to leave as is.
CAN A DIRT FLOOR CAUSE ANY ISSUES?!
To be honest, yes, if not paid attention to, but it totally depends, This house has functioned just fine for 109 years WITHOUT “proper” flooring but a dirt basement can present the following issues.
– insects, including termites
– wood rot
WHAT CAN I DO TO COVER UP THESE DIRT FLOORS?
#1 Create a vapor barrier
This can be as simple as laying a plastic sheet. Creating a vapor barrier will help prevent moisture and unwanted insects and pests.
#2 Pour concrete
Most permanent and low maintenance solution BUT if there is ever an issue with the plumbing OR you decide you want to dig the basement deeper, you will have to tear this up again.
#3 Finish the floors with “proper” flooring
Tile, laminate, wood flooring, etc.
#4 Lay a “deck” over the floor
Some suggest you build a very short deck over the dirt floor, depending on how much headspace you have. This will allow you to build a durable, even floor, without having to worry about the floor boards shifting.
Anyway guys, that’s all I got for you on DIRT FLOORs this week! Let me know if you have ever worked with dirt floored basements and how YOU handled them!
Feel free to comment on the blog post HERE and let us know what YOU think!
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Me – this is based on my own personal experience!