basements with dirt floors

any opinions on sfh with dirt floors in the basements? I seem to shy away from these and i think i may be losing out on a few deals. I just think it doesn’t add any value to the house and it doesn;t provide a good storage space for tenants. any thoughts?

We had those in part of the basement where I lived as a kid, my dad just poured some concrete. Buy cheap, add concrete, solved.

I worked concrete (mostly driveways and sidewalks) for two summers in college. You can have a cement truck back up to the house and have them use slides to pour the cement into the basement. Or you can get a pump truck to pump the concrete in. Either way your not going to trying to mix the cement yourself, you’ll need to have a cement truck come.

If you know a concrete guy then you may want to try to do it yourself. You and the two three people helping will need to have at least a basic knowlege of what is going on. Otherwise if you don’t know what your doing your floor will look like a wave pool.

Let me know if you need to know how to calculate how much cement you will need or any other questions.

Basement with a dirt floor? I call that “the children’s bedroom”. THe tenants can’t scratch it; water pours down through; you can even plant grass if there’s enough light. What’s not to like?


you can even plant grass if there's enough light.

Hmmmmm… don’t they usually use those growth lamps anyhow?

i can understand liking it if this is a lower income rental and i was going to attract low income tenants but this is a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I would not want to buy a house for my personal residence with a dirt basement. why would anyone else. its not like you can just pour concrete and your done. . you have to excavate, level, form. bring in stone base and then concrete. I would think this would cost about 10-12,000. is it worth the expence or should i focus on full concrete basements in my quest to aquire. thanks

If this is a full basement and it just has a dirt floor, then all that will happen is pouring some concrete on the floor after you level the ground using 2x4’s and tapping the ground. If you have it done it might cost $3-5,000. Is there more needed to be done on this basement then just cement on the floor. What else are you thinking that it needs, foundation work, etc?

If you need to jack the house up and fix the foundation because its crumbling and pour a basement then the price you said might be reasonable. But if you’re just looking to take the existing basement and change it from a dirt floor to a cement floor then $3,000-5,000 is more likely to be your expense. The price depends on the size of the basement.

If this offends anybody, I apologize in advance…

but…if you need some excavating done, I just go down the local labor ready, grab a few workers and hand them some shovels and buckets.

I have my wife interpret (these guys don’t speak english) and they will work all day for a couple hundred bucks and a case of corona.

For 500 bucks and some beer your excavating is done.

I grew up working construction, and concrete isn’t that hard…the deal with the basement is drainage if you are in a wet area. Best bet might be to slop the floor towards one corner, and leave one little 2*2 foot corner still dirt. Hide your hold with a dud wall or something.

A friend of mine ripped out the wooden floors in his basement and poured a new 6 inch floor. His floor was so deep he had to put some gravel down which was like $35 a yard. I can’t remember what he paid for the concrete, around $100 a yard I think.

I think putting in lolly columns, dumpsters for the old material and he had someone help him level the floor which he found on Craigslists. The whole job was like 10k. I think if you’re just doing a simple floor, 3-5k sounds about right depending on how much concrete you need. I think you’d just need a 4 inch thick floor. Better to do it when the weather is warmer though. Oh and one thing he did was not to bring it up to the previous level so now he has really high ceilings in his basement. He doesn’t have any problem with water as the ground slopes away from his house. If you do, you could probably put in a french drain system before you pour the floor.

I recently bought a 7 unit building.

Basically, it’s a big house.

Anyway the entire basement area is dirt and hasn’t been an issue.

I don’t allow tenants down there though, so that’s a bit different.

Having dirt floor has come in handy a few times already (like draining water heaters, minor plumbing issues, etc. Any water just dissipates in seconds.

Make sure you test for radon. Even if the area you live in doesn’t have much, it can be in pockets and you will find it where there is bare earth.

That’s a great point LoriK. Radon is so often overlooked because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it like asbetos, mold, or lead based paint. Radon is believed to be the second leading cause of lung cancer next to cigarettes. The cheap DIY kits from HD or Lowe’s work fine.

“Don’t breath or drink radioactive material.” Life Rule!

Another thing that is overlooked with dirt floors is moisture. Several hundreds of gallons of moisture will find their way into a house that isn’t sealed from the ground. The moisture is even worse with crawl spaces since surface water gets under there. You can solve that problem with a mositure barrier layed on the ground with gravel overtop. If you have exposed insulation facing a crawl space, you will see the effects of the moisture over the course of time when your insulation starts “dripping” down and loses most of it’s efficiency. “Settling” will occur much more rapidly also with the wood structure. You’ll never need a humidifer though!

Indeed - we had our house tested when we moved in (cement basement). Radon levels were fine. Didn’t even think about it. When we sold our house last year (5 years later), the buyers did a radon. The results came back with high levels, ended up doing mitigation on the property to get it sold. Cost us $900.
Radon is scary stuff, and we are now going to test our home every year.

Is it true that radon is really only dangerous in very “tight” homes?

That is why it became a problem with the energy crunch… when homes got tighter and better insulated.

In a more “drafty” building, the radon dissipates fairly quickly.

I recall reading that somewhere.

The EPA recognizes radon in dangerous levels of 4 picocuries per liters (which is not much). I’ve bought properties over 4 times that amount. In my opinion, breathing or drinking radioactive material in any levels can’t be good. But like a lot of things, if there are no immediate and tangible results, people ignore the dangers. Most often it enters a building through cracks in the foundation (or up through the dirt) and becomes concentrated in particular areas. Simple caulking can usually cure the problem in a foundation. Ventilation will help but I would not ignore the possibility of radon just because a house is “drafty”. Just my .02!

If you care to read about it here is a bunch of info from the feds: