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Old 10-18-2012, 05:39 PM   #1
7th Kahuna
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Default Garage Basement Question

My dad and I are planning to construct a new garage / shop building here in Los Angeles County. The city is really particular about what we can and can't do. Because this building will be constructed prior to demolition of the existing garage we are very limited as to square footage and similarly because the original house is on a slab with a low pitched roof we are limited in height.

I have been kicking around the idea of a basement space. My dad is certain it will be too expensive.

We are planning to construct the ground level portion using either concrete masonry or concrete filled Styrofoam blocks. The structure will be approximately 24' x 25'.

Does anyone here have an idea of what sort of additional cost we would be looking at for the basement? I am only really concerned with the excavation, increased footing size, below grade walls & waterproofing, and the ground level structural floor. We could handle all of the utilities and finishes, wall furring etc at a later date; money and time permitting.

The site has easy equipment access and no soil or water issues I am aware of.

I am hoping to have room for a few of my own tools in the garage, so I really need a place for my dad's collections.

Seriously, if it were at all reasonable, I would hate to miss the opportunity to create the additional space.

Thanks guys. Even some unit prices would help.
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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I would be surprised if you could have that done for less than $50,000. That's a lot of engineering and concrete structure.
Unless I'm reading you wrong? You want a basement you can park on, correct?
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:54 PM   #3
7th Kahuna
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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Originally Posted by KPSquared View Post
I would be surprised if you could have that done for less than $50,000. That's a lot of engineering and concrete structure.
Unless I'm reading you wrong? You want a basement you can park on, correct?
Yeah, need to be able to park on it. Wondered about pre stressed concrete 'panels' for the floor but could also be wood timber, steel ibeam, etc. Don't know if any of that might be pre engineered for this purpose.

Last edited by 7th Kahuna; 10-18-2012 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

Put the basement area under the house, so conventional flooring support can be used. The grade-level garage is just a slab, nothing underneath.

Excavating under an exisiting house will not be cheap or easy.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

Some questions.

Why must you demolish the existing garage?
If you must demolish it, why can't you demo it first?
Can you modify the house roof to make it higher and then have a different basis for the garage height?
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

Contractor friend of mine bid a garage where homie wanted a full basement under his 28x48 garage. The cheapest option in the area for the garage floor was Coredeck, concrete panels with hollow tube area's in them, floor alone for the material, crane/setting was just under $55,000 10yrs ago.

Obviously you wont know until you do research and make some calls the true cost in your area, but it wont be cheap and will have to have an engineered print/stamp prior to permit even being issued since the city will have a huge stake on this type of project...if they allow it and something happens, they are 100% liable in court since once they give the okay they too essentially own your project and any problems that may arise/result in injury/death.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
Put the basement area under the house, so conventional flooring support can be used. The grade-level garage is just a slab, nothing underneath.

Excavating under an exisiting house will not be cheap or easy.
My dad and I hand dug a small utility basement under an existing house when I was a teen. That was not a fun job. In this case the house is on a slab so a basement would not be a good option.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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Some questions.

Why must you demolish the existing garage?
If you must demolish it, why can't you demo it first?
Can you modify the house roof to make it higher and then have a different basis for the garage height?
The existing garage is in bad shape and very small. It will be removed to make way for a future house addition. There are a couple of issues with removing it prior to the reconstruction of the house however. As for the house, the city will not let us touch the roof line. Ironically the house is about as plain-jane as you could get (with a 3 in 12 pitch in a neighborhood of 6 in 12 pitched cottages) but because it is located within a historic overlay it is treated as though it were a princess. A sensible fellow would have pushed it over and hauled it away. The only path to changing the roof line will be 'historically sensitive' 2nd story addition to our fabulous '49 stucco box. Can't complain too much however, at least they are letting us build the new shop.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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The cheapest option in the area for the garage floor was Coredeck, concrete panels with hollow tube area's in them, floor alone for the material, crane/setting was just under $55,000 10yrs ago.
Wow, would not have guessed the concrete panels would be that expensive. Definitely have more research to do.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

This is time for a City Code Specific Architect.
There is nothing you can do that will not be inspected 12 times by 4 agency’s.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:08 PM   #11
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

So far walking into the city and sounding like we know EXACTLY what we are doing has worked pretty well. We answer the questions we want to answer before they ask and try to slip the other issues by. They offered that they MAY be able to approve the new garage over the counter. That of course will be out the door if we go with the basement I'm sure.

'It's not a basement, it's an 8 ft radon gas diffuser / fresh air exchanger.

Last edited by 7th Kahuna; 10-18-2012 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:08 PM   #12
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

With the low pitched 3:12, you could go max height (I assume 13') and construct a mezzanine style storage place. L.A. County will make any kind of excavation and construction stupid expensive.

If this was back in the 50's, you could tell them this is a bomb shelter.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:17 PM   #13
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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With the low pitched 3:12, you could go max height (I assume 13') and construct a mezzanine style storage place. L.A. County will make any kind of excavation and construction stupid expensive.

If this was back in the 50's, you could tell them this is a bomb shelter.
You hit it on the nose, about 12'-8" as we don't seem to be able to exceed the height of the house. Unfortunately the garage roof must match the house. We had thought about a mansard style roof. I'm game for the bomb shelter. I read an article the other day questioning what happened to all the private bomb shelters built in the 50's. The author's point was he never hears about people digging them up or discovering them in the basements of their houses. I can't say that I have either. Fewer basements in LA I suppose.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

My full basement only cost about 5-6k$ more.

http://garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=50008

Best money I ever spent!!!
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:27 PM   #15
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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My full basement only cost about 5-6k$ more.

http://garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=50008

Best money I ever spent!!!
Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

Very nice! That appears to have been a 100% poured in place job (basement walls and both floors) yes?

Last edited by 7th Kahuna; 10-18-2012 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:37 PM   #16
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

Nope. Walls were poured as a normal foundation is. There was a 2'' x 9'' key in the top of the walls. The floor was then formed from below and poured after. 9'' thick floor with a ton of rebar...
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:48 PM   #17
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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Originally Posted by 7th Kahuna View Post
The existing garage is in bad shape and very small. It will be removed to make way for a future house addition. There are a couple of issues with removing it prior to the reconstruction of the house however. As for the house, the city will not let us touch the roof line. Ironically the house is about as plain-jane as you could get (with a 3 in 12 pitch in a neighborhood of 6 in 12 pitched cottages) but because it is located within a historic overlay it is treated as though it were a princess. A sensible fellow would have pushed it over and hauled it away. The only path to changing the roof line will be 'historically sensitive' 2nd story addition to our fabulous '49 stucco box. Can't complain too much however, at least they are letting us build the new shop.
So the 2nd floor addition will solve the height problem.
What are the reasons for not demolishing the garage first?
What prevents you from knocking down the house and building what you want?
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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So the 2nd floor addition will solve the height problem.
What are the reasons for not demolishing the garage first?
What prevents you from knocking down the house and building what you want?
No, not necessarily. Most of SoCal no longer allows detached garages with 2nd stories. Not trying at all to be political, but the main reason seems to be they are often converted to illegal residences.

Real estate is expensive here.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:57 PM   #19
7th Kahuna
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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Nope. Walls were poured as a normal foundation is. There was a 2'' x 9'' key in the top of the walls. The floor was then formed from below and poured after. 9'' thick floor with a ton of rebar...
Sorry, that was what I meant. I just wanted to be clear that you had not used any sort of pre-formed panels, beams, or the like to support the garage level floor. As I see it you formed a wood base and poured the concrete over it (with a whole lot of steel => here in earthquake country that kind of goes without saying ).

I'm amazed you got it done that cheaply but it is not too far off what I was thinking either. I believe my dad would bite if we could keep it in the $12k to $15k range. If cheaper, it would be a no-brainer.
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:07 PM   #20
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Default Re: Garage Basement Question

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No, not necessarily. Most of SoCal no longer allows detached garages with 2nd stories. Not trying at all to be political, but the main reason seems to be they are often converted to illegal residences.

Real estate is expensive here.
Sorry Zeke.
I meant making the house 2 story to get the garage higher, not 2 story. Also making the house 2 story gives you more lot for the garage. Need more info on what the overall plan is, and the budget and existing conditions. He may have other options.
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