Seattle basement remodel advice

7 Replies


My wife and I just purchased an older 1927 house in Seattle, WA with the intention to use the BRRR strategy. We are living in it during the remodeling process . The goal is to take the 2 bed 1.75 bath house and split it into two units. the main floor and attic will become a 3 bed 2 bath unit and the basement will become a 2 bed 1 bath unit. Two problems, the attic peak is only 7' and the basement height is about 6'8" on average. In Seattle, the height requirements for livable space is 7' minimum across 50% of the space not including areas that are less than 5' high. My main questions for this post are regarding the basement remodel:

  1. Digging down or jacking up the entire house, what would you do to get to the 7' height requirement?
  2. Would you keep a stairway between the two units to allow renting the house as one unit in the future? I have seen this in a couple units I have rented in Seattle.
  3. Does anyone know a good structural engineer/architect in Seattle who can design an affordable attic and basement remodel for an older home?

Thanks for the advice!

Can you tell me if the basement currently has a hard lid (drywall ceiling)? If so, tear it off and paint the open ceiling. The floor joists should be 8” tall as a industry standard therefore the mass majority of your ceiling would then by 7’-4”

@Tyler Resnick I like the idea of removing the hard ceiling and exposing the floor joists. Is there a good method of sound insulation between floor joists? Maybe I could insert some sort of foam board insulation and drywall between the floor joists to create a sound barrier?

Matthew Paul, we should be able to get $1500 using the low end of the comps.

@Thomas S., that was the direction I was leaning between the two but I heard that lifting the house was to much for a diy project. I assumed the dig out would be a lot more straight forward but also a lot more labor intensive. What are the main concerns when lifting a house?

Before you tear the drywall ceiling out in the basement make sure your firewall requirements will be sufficient with what's left.. are you exposing plumbing and electrical? these all might be code issues with creating an additional dwelling..

I would slap some rigid insulation between the floor joists. It is easy to cut and route conduit through. Then put drywall over it and fire caulk the edges, bam 1hr rating without a massive structural modification. Where it gets tricky is if there are plumbing lines (sewer) routed horizontally in or under the joists. A bulk head could work in that situation or routing the drain lines to a ejector pump/catch basin in the basement. No matter, it would all be cheaper the taking out the slab and lowering the floor or jacking up the house.

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