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9-ft. vs. 8-ft. ceiling in basement


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By Darren on 5/23/2005


Hi -

I'm getting quotes on a 2,700 sq. ft. 2-story plan in Halifax, Canada (for both stick frame and ICF). The main floor is 1,500 sq. ft. and there is a walkout basement. Does anyone know how to estimate the difference in cost for an 8-ft. ceiling versus a 9-ft. ceiling in the basement? (We are finishing the basement and  with the duct work hanging down it seems so low...).

Cheers,

Darren 


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By Drue in Henderson, NV on 5/25/2005


If your budget allows, always go for the higher ceiling, especially in a basement, if you don't, it will always look and feel like a basement
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By John in Clarkston, MI on 5/26/2005


The difference in cost between an 8 or 9' ceiling in your basement is minimal. The poured wall basement contractor probably charges by the lineal foot and should be able to quote it easily. Otherwise you spend a little more on exterior finish such as brick or siding, and maybe make the windows taller. Don't forget the depth of the excavation. Any good HVAC contractor should be able to install ductwork without a bunch of jumps and heat runs below the joists. When they are doing the installation after the floor is poured keep any drops close to the beams or outside walls. This makes it easier to box in later. Also if necessary recut the floor registers to avoid jumps. Heat contractors will install a jump from one joist to another to avoid recutting the floor.


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By John in Erie, CO on 5/26/2005


Watch that you won't need new engineering in your jurisdiction - 8' can be a 'trigger point' at which going higher would require additional engineering work...  But you can do the research up front and know in advance...

 For example, in my jurisdiction, any ICF wall over 8' high requires an engineer to do the inspection; The building department won't inspect it.

This added $150 to the cost of the basement, but the height is great.  As mentioned above, the materials and labor cost is pretty minimal.  We did 10'6" high basement walls, which puts the bottom of the steel beams & AC ducting at 8'6" - It doesn't feel like a basement.

 

Good luck,


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By Netie in Salt Lake City, UT on 5/28/2005


Our 1st build will be 8 footers & 2nd at 9 feet.

Hubby will place the mechanical room in the basement where all the ducting will be run along the sides of the ceiling.  Not the center.  Which much be a cheaper &/or easier installation  b/c all the builders spec homes that I've seen out here, have it installed smack dab down the middle of the ceiling. Even the builders that spent the extra money on  9' basements did it too.  I just don't get it.   Doing it that way completely chops up & lowers the ceiling.

By locating ducts along the sides, we'll get more height and I can play up the ceiling  break with interior design elements.  Oh, and we also plan on the basement windows being slightly larger so they go all the way up.   


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By John in Erie, CO on 5/28/2005


Be sure to map the ducting versus your structural drawings - If you have stacked beams, you will have to located the ducts to avoid them.

 

Also, talk with your HVAC guy - Not only is right down the center typically cheaper, but it also usually comes pretty close to the shortest set of ducts.  If the ducts get too long, costs will go up as you buy bigger equipment.

Finally, if you have steel beams, they will typically lower your ceiling around 12", so running the ducts next to them is typically not a big deal.

 

 

Good luck,

 


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By Kevin in West Chester, OH on 8/23/2005


I am using ICF on my house... when it came down to how many ICF "Rows" there would be, given my desired 1st floor height, and my self-imposed minimum required basement height (we have a walk-out)... It turned out that it made a lot of sense to 'add' height to the basement.  Meaning, that if I only had a 9' ceiling, the ICF installer would have had to cut all of the forms 'to height' to achieve this.  This would mean cutting 11" off each form.  Since I had to purchase that form anyway, and the installer said it was less labor intensive to just stack vs. cut the form, I had him leave the entire row height un-cut.  My basement, after pouring the concrete floor, is 9'6". 

Adding the extra height in my case was minimal extra expense as it was primarily increased concrete (though not a lot), offset by reduced labor cost by my contractor (he had given me a 'before' price and then I did the height analysis and had him give me an 'after' price), and also offset by some 'issues' I had with my lot that required me to bring in back fill - at which point, having a deeper basement, meant less backfill required.

Net - if you use ICF, do a simple calculation to determine how many 'rows' you need from footer to roof trusses and see how it comes out.  You may find there is some extra space just based on the heights of the forms.  Of course, you may find out the opposite too. 

My County/ state permits you to use the ICF Block manufacturer's Engineering data.  I could have a 10' high basement, with up to 8' high of backfill given the thickness of my ICF Walls (the higher the back-fill/ basement wall height... the more rebar is required).

My understanding is with poured foundations, you can find different foundation contractors with different forms.  Many of the ones I talked with (for my Garage wall) used an 8' form and then had to 'add' an extra foot, which was more costly.  A few of the foundation contractors actually had 9' high forms... thus, more cost effective.

Also from a basement height perspective... I chose wood floor trusses, so most of my mechanicals can run 'through' the trusses vs beneath them.  The cost of my trusses were very competitive with TJIs.  I didn't compare to dimensional lumber - but to get the spans I wanted, dimensional lumber wasn't a great option.

Kevin


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