Just Like TV

So we watch our fair share of home decorating shows, and there’s always a Moment Of Drama on those shows where they discover something about the house that was previously unknown, that is going to be an expensive fix. And now, part of the family’s Big Plans must Come Off The Table, and it’s a tense and emotional moment, then there’s shots of the designer huffing and puffing over a calculator and some sheets of paper (likely grocery lists), while they try to stretch the budget and dip into contingency reserves and otherwise stress about designs.

But surely, that would not happen to us! Our basement remodel was so simple! And our guy had already done two others on the street, with no problems and big success!


So our basement project is, supposedly, in its final stages, at least for the professionals. They should have been wrapping things up today and tomorrow. But as they were laying down the subfloor, it became apparent that our concrete slab is warped. Like, really, really, warped.

Usually basement floors have some ups and downs, and the contractor can work around that with a little shimming and fancy woodwork. But ours is beyond saving. There is a high point in the centre of the house, and the edges slope away, ending up several inches lower at the outer walls. There is just no possible way to lay down the subfloor and actually have it turn out level.

That means that we cannot possibly put down a laminate floor, because the floating floor would crack and buckle because the subfloor is not level.

Remember how we paid extra and went way out of our way so the stairs could be wood? To match the laminate? And there’s a whole other story about the laminate itself that I won’t bore you with, but to sum up, we have been through a bit of a wringer at two different stores just to get the stuff we wanted. So to be told now that our best solution is to accept the sloped floor, and just cover it up with carpet, taking a loss on the stair work and flooring, is not going to work for us, I’m afraid.

(Well, it might work for us as a last-ditch solution. But first we are going to look into every other possible answer.)

So now we have halted all basement work while we a) get an engineer in here to figure out why the foundation is so slanted in the first place, b) get a concrete company in here to talk about re-pouring the basement floor, c) have our basement guy rip out a bunch of stuff he has already done, and d) get resigned to having even MORE of the basement crap on the main level, for an even longer amount of time.

Not to mention the possible expenses involved – at the moment we have no idea what any of this will cost, and if we’re looking at a serious foundation problem it might even mean the entire basement is off the table for now, and instead our budget will just go to repair work.

So the lesson here is: before finishing your basement, you should have it inspected for possible foundation problems.

Live and learn, I guess.

11 thoughts on “Just Like TV

  1. Oh no, Lynn! (No wonder your tummy hurts!) All I can say is I hope it ends for you like the decorating shows do: the designer and the engineer pull a miracle out of their toolboxes and it’s even better than you could have imagined! And all inside of a 60-minute program! Well, maybe you can’t have that part…

  2. nooooooooooooooo!!!! I feel for you on this one. big time.

    we are currently going through bathroom reno’s and I ,too, have seen too many shows where the dreaded moment comes where they find the mould, or bad framing etc etc . so far so good. 1 bathroom done, one other just starting.

    subfloors are tricky but I think you are doing the right thing.. have it checked & re poured, and then you can do the flooring how you intended. do it right, and even though the cost is way more, you will ultimately be happy with the result. maybe the ikea bookshelves won’t be purchased for a year or two?

  3. Oh crap! So sorry to hear this. I remember a moment during our basement reno when the entire floor was broken open (we were putting a bathroom in, so plumbing had to go in the floor), and there was mud everywhere and I wondered if they were going to bury a body in there while they were at it, and I thought it was TERRIBLE. I suppose, in retrospect, it was a good thing because that floor is now the only level one in our entire house.

    Wishing the best for you!

  4. Yikes! Sometimes what look like foundation problems turn out to be concrete slab problems – still a problem but much cheaper to fix! Our old house had crazy sloping floors, and it turned out that the foundation hadn’t moved at all while the beam in the middle had sagged (a lot!) with age. Hopefully whatever the cause of your basement slab problems it’s a relatively easy fix… Your basement reno posts have me dreaming about what we could do with our dark and cold basement!

  5. smothermother

    oh no! Lynn, that totally sucks. Fingers, toes and other appendages crossed that the engineer comes in and declares it was just poured really badly and it’s an easy (and not too expensive!) fix.

  6. When we were in Ottawa last year for a week in the summer we left our neighbourhood just before that big flood happened here in Toronto. Along our street, and into the extended neighbourhood, so many houses were under basement construction, or interior renovations, especially basements. When we came back, more than half the under-reno homes had all their reno destroyed by the flood. Sure, a lot of it was covered in insurance, but the pain of having to extend the reno for who knows how much longer (bec the demand for contractors was now increased, too) was such a pain. I hear you and feel your pain. It’s rare that things go smoothly from beginning to end in most extensive renos. Good luck to you, you will weather this and when it’s all said and done, you will have a lovely new basement to use.

  7. Oh man, I am so sorry to hear that. Floor issues were one of the hassles of our (recently completed – yay!) remodel. Yours sounds eerily similar. We had lots of back and forth about what KIND of floor to get – we didn’t want carpet and couldn’t afford hardwood, but had to negotiate the new concrete slab in the addition matching up with the old subfloor in the existing house. After all that, they decided they COULD do laminate, so we chose and moved along.

    And then they installed the laminate, and the next day there were boards popping up in places, wobbling, etc. Sigh. So they had to rip out the whole floor (almost the entire bottom floor of our house) and do a bunch of concrete patching/filing/smoothing so that the floor wouldn’t have little hills all over the place. And then they laid down the floor again, which caused the whole project to finish late (of course, but at that point I was just DONE).

    Anyway, it’s much better now and the laminate is fine and was the right choice for us after seeing my 16mo drop lots of heavy wood toys on it 😉 Good luck in finding a good, inexpensive solution!! I feel your pain.

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