Materials for Building a Basement
New home construction begins with a well-built basement foundation
By Glyn Sheridan
The construction of the basement is the first step in building a new home, and it provides a sturdy foundation on which the future house will rest. When you're ready to pour your new basement, you will use some standard materials during the various phases of basement construction. Construction of a basement takes place in at least three stages: pouring the footings, constructing the walls and finally, pouring the basement floor. Each phase requires large quantities of concrete and a few other materials.
Before you build the basement walls and floor, you will install a strip of concrete, approximately 2 feet wide and 1 foot thick under the area where the basement walls will be. Check with your local building authority in case different specifications are required in your community. This is the footing, and you will pour concrete into a shallow trench in which you have placed reinforcing rebar to strengthen the concrete. Fasten the bars together with rebar ties and reserve enough additional 9-foot rebar bars to insert into the footings at 2-foot intervals when the concrete begins to harden. These bars will serve to anchor additional reinforcement for the basement walls.
Concrete forms will provide the temporary walls into which you will pour concrete. You may rent forms from a construction rental store or from a foundation contractor. Within the concrete forms, you will install long rebar bars, horizontally, at 2-foot intervals all the way around the proposed walls. Attach the long bars to the vertical rebar you installed while pouring the footings, and fasten them together with rebar ties. Every place the bars cross, you will use a rebar tie to fasten the them together. A simple tool, called a "pigtail," will allow you to install the ties quickly. You need dimensional lumber to frame in the rough openings of any future windows and/or walkout doors. Make sure you know the desired sizes of the windows or doors to make sure the openings are large enough. You may elect to use conduit within the walls to install wiring later, although most wiring is accessible from within the basement ceiling. If your water source will enter the home or your sewer will exit the home in the basement area, position these pipes in the forms before pouring the concrete. Anchor bolts are the final materials required in the construction of the basement walls and you will insert them along the top of the wall, at 2-foot intervals, into the semifirm concrete.
Your local building code may require up to 4 inches of sand beneath your basement floor to reduce future cracking and movement of the concrete if you live in an area where the ground regularly shifts. If so, you will dump the sand and level it before reinforcing the proposed floor with rebar. Although building codes vary, a typical basement floor contains rebar bars that extend from one end of the basement to the other, at 2-foot intervals. Additional bars will extend in the opposite direction, the same distance apart, and you will fasten the intersecting points with rebar ties. To hold the rebar a few inches above the sand, place small plastic rebar "chairs" under each point where the bars intersect. Plan for a future bathroom, a wet bar or a kitchenette by installing rough plumbing pipes in the floor before pouring the concrete. Known as "stubbing," this allows the homeowner to finish out the basement in the future without tearing out the concrete floor.
If you want a heated floor, you may elect to install electrical strips or flexible polyvinyl tubing into the concrete when you pour the floor. Decorative basement floors sometimes use colorful dyes or stamps to render a pattern, color or texture.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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