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Home Site Map - Steps - Basement Walls and Ceiling -

Concrete Set Time


Remove outside bracing

All the outside bracing 2x4s need to be removed.

Remove some inside bracing

Internal bracing is used to fix the drywall onto, but not all the internal batons are needed.

Remove inside ICF EPS as required

There is no reason to have insulation on the inside of the wall concrete.  You want the concrete to be at the same temperature as the inside living space.  It doesn't do much harm having insulation on the inside so in practice it is only worth removing when there is a good reason to do so.  Reasons for removing it include...

1)  Create indent alcoves in the wall for placing books or vases of flowers.
2)  Provide more room for running pipes and wires.
3)  Inspect the concrete to check you have no voids.

You should leave the ICF EPS under the internal batons used to attach the drywall.  If you need to get a wire past a vertical baton then you will make a hole in the EPS.  If you need to get a larger diameter pipe through then you can cut away the vertical baton (and the EPS underneath).

ICF EPS removed on inside

Removing ICF EPS with a knife 

Inner ICF EPS stripped off 

Where the concrete wall meets the concrete slab, you need to remove the EPS.  This allows self-leveling cement to flow all the way up to the wall.

Removing the ICF EPS is best done by making vertical cuts with a knife every 2" and 4" either side of the webbing and then prizing it out with a lightweight flat crowbar.  The hook end of a hammer also works well.

After the ICF EPS has been removed, it is easy to snap off the plastic webbing by hitting it from the side with a hammer (use safety glasses).


Implement sewer and radon stacks

Through the wall just above slab height will be 4" ABS pipes for the sewer and the radon foundation vent (if there is one).  Cut the off to the required height and implement something along the lines of the arrangement shown in the diagrams.  Typically some of the other plumbing and even some of the electrics will be in the same area so it is important to implement the sewer first as it is the least flexible on location.


Fit Double Sanitary Tees on the 4" pipes.
Fit 4" pipes up to basement ceiling height.
Within ceiling area fit more Double Sanitary Tees for the fixtures on the Living Room floor.
Fit more 4" pipe vertically to be one foot above Living Room floor height with a glued on end cap.

Make sure you allow for all the fixture connections into the waste stacks as you implement the stacks.  Trying to retrofit branches is extremely hard later.  In the basement there will be some branches at shin height and some in the ceiling.  If in doubt, add a few extra branches.

Mount basement and main level toilets

Toilets are the least flexible thing to fit and can have a big impact on the DWV stack.  Implement the wall mounted flange for any basement toilet and implement the floor mounted flanges for the toilets that will be on the main floor.

Typically the toilet will be some height above the rough floor.  For a concrete floor you should assume the finished floor will be 3" - 4" above the rough floor.  You should make a wooden plinth of say 3" height to sit the flange on.  Use a wax gasket with a horn to mount floor mounted toilets.

Toto floor mount toilet CT705ELNG


Frame cabinets over sewer pipes etc

Typically other service type items will be in the same area as where the sewer pipes come up through the slab.  Forming a cabinet around the sewer pipes will hide them and give a place for installing other equipment.  For the moment you just need the framing carcass of the cabinets rather than the cabinet doors or other cladding.

Kitchen cabinet lower front view 

Kitchen cabinet lower side view 


Water service

Install main water shut-off

This will shut-off the water to the whole house.  This is the first stop for the water feed that comes through the back wall.

There is no real point in making it an electrical shutoff value when you have well water because a better solution is turn off the well water pressure pump if there's a problem.

The water will have been brought to the house using flexible thick walled black pipe.  Connect using an internal barb fitting and jubilee clip.  Use a right angled connector to transition from the horizontal underground black pipe to the white 1-1/4" PVC up the outside of the wall.  The right angled barbed connector screws into the PVC pipe fitting end.  A right angle PVC bend piece transitions the 1-1/4" PVC pipe through the wall.  It goes to a 1-1/4" PVC shutoff valve.  This then converts to 3/4" PEX.

If there you are using a separate feed for drinking water then install a separate shutoff for it.  It is all done with half inch PEX pipe and a PEX shutoff.

Provision for water softener

I don't plan to initially pay the $1000 for a water softener, but it is still good to figure out where it would be physically installed and in which pipe.  It is best to connect it using 3/4" flexible PEX pipe (that replaces the shorter bit initially used).

Buy PEX pipe for cold and hot water

For potable (ie drinking) water you need PEX tubing that DOES NOT have an oxygen barrier.  The type with an oxygen barrier is just for use in radiant heating systems where the heating system uses cast iron parts and you want to avoid rust.  If you are certain you will never have cast iron components in your heating system then you can use NON-oxygen-barrier for the radiant heating system too.  My advice is to just avoid using cast iron, ie use NON-OB PEX everywhere.

Typically use 3/4" to go to the manifold and hot water heater, and then 1/2" to the various fixtures via a manifold.

The best brand is AquaPEX.  The best type is PEX-a.  AquaPEX is the only PEX-a material available for drinking water.

There are various connector types that can be used with PEX tubing, but here is my recommendation.  Use the crimp connectors/fittings, but use them with stainless steel clamp rings (rather than copper crimp rings).  Crimp style fittings are the most common and affordable type of PEX fittings and can be found in most home centers and online stores.   It will cost you about $70 for a clamp tool (but this is less than a crimp tool).

I am ok with using plastic connectors, in fact I prefer them over brass.

More details can be found here .

Install basement Heat Pump Water Heater

New building code in 2015 requires that all water heaters are heat pump type.  They are called Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH).  These work best if positioned near a heat source, eg near a wood burning stove.  In my case the wood burning fire will be in the mud room so that is the best place to put the HPWH.

Install cold water feed to hot water boiler

The water heater needs a 3/4" pipe whereas the main manifold will be 1/2".  Use a 3/4" plastic Tee to provide a feed off to the water heater.

Install cold water manifold

The best manifold uses crimp connectors (note that this also means it will work with clamp rings), so this is another reason to chose the crimp/clamp method.

Manifold - 36 PEX crimp 

Best practice says that there should be a separate run of PEX pipe from the manifold in the basement to each fixture.  In a large house that can be a lot of PEX pipes running long distances, so you might instead have a few manifolds, one in each house region.  Water to the manifold (or manifolds) is done with 3/4" PEX pipe (using 3/4" Tees if necessary to split the feed).

Another pipe reducing method is to share a 1/2" PEX feed between adjacent fixtures.  Care should be taken because water usage from one will effect the other.  Also you will not have an individual fixture shutoff tap (taps are on the manifold).

The manifold used should be a pressure balanced type, ie the manifold is fed from both ends.  This is to avoid one fixture (eg sink) interfering with another (eg shower).  Use a 3/4" Tee to split the 3/4" PEX into two legs.

Manifolds often have some hot feeds and some cold feeds.  In a large house you may choose to put cold water into both sections of the manifold and use a completely separate manifold for the hot water feeds.  The hot water manifold is typically mounted near the water heater.


Rain water flush system

Plumb in rain water inlet to house and pump system to attic

Rain water inlets come from the base of the pillars, ie 4 pipes at the base of the outer columns on each portico base.
Also make provision for an extra inlet pipe in the rear wall just below the backfill level.
All 5 pipes need to be plumbed together and routed to the basement back wall.
A filter is needed in the combined pipe. This will be inside the basement so it is not too hard to cleanout the filter. It only needs to be a fine wire mesh.
From there they will go outside though the back wall to a tank buried outside near the back wall.
The tank needs to be buried below the frost line in the earth slope to the north of the house.
The tank will have a float switch that cuts off the pump when the tank is dry.
The tank will have an overflow to a drain field for when it gets full.
The outlet at the bottom of the rain water storage tank will be routed back inside the house at the service room.
Install a pump to pump the water up to the tank that will be in the attic.
Use 1/2" PEX pipe from pump up the wall (towards the attic). Initially pipe will go to a foot above living room floor height as only the basement will have so far been built.
Another float switch (this time in the attic tank) will turn off the pump when the attic flush tank is full.
The fill for the tank will be near the top of the wall and the output from the tank will be at the bottom of the wall.

Install PVC rain water flush pipes

This is the rain water that has been pumped to the flush tank in the attic and now needs to be delivered to the toilets in the basement.
The pipes are white PVC with a diameter of 2".


Cold water to fixtures

Select and buy plumbing fixtures

So that water pipes can be connected, it is necessary to have the fixtures.  Consult the plumbing page here for the best fixture choices.  Initially just get the most important fixtures.  Other fixtures can be purchased and installed incrementally and their PEX pipes from the manifold installed as needed.

Note that often faucets are fed with fixed temperature warm water rather than having hot and cold to the faucet.  The thing that needs to be  roughed in is the temperature control valve that is near the faucet.

Motion sensor faucet    Thermostatic mixing valve


Install fixture cold water piping

Half inch PEX.  Blue for cold.  Routed from the manifold.

Star water pipes from the basement manifold.
When individually starred from basement then don't need a shutoff at the fixture.
Even when sharing fixtures on one line, probably can still do without the fixture shutoffs.
Need to pay close attention to building codes on plumbing.
TODO: Check if Building code requires individual turn off valves on each fixture.

Route hot and cold pipes separately ie well separated taking different routes.

If a particular fixture is not yet available it is still good practice to fit a PEX plug at the far end of each pipe so that no dust and debris falls in.


Electrical service

Install Electrical Sub-Panels

Located in the basement and contain all the circuit breakers.  More details on electrical design etc are here .

A small house only needs one panel, but for a large house use two separate panel boxes.  These are fed using two separate runs of 4/0 cable from the main panel in the yard.  One sub-panel will be used to power high current things such as boilers and heaters and it does not need many breaker feeds.  The other one need as many as possible breakers (say 40) and is used to feed the lighting and regular power sockets.

The sub-panels both need to be rated at 200 amps, but only one of them (the one for the lights and electronics) needs to have a large number of output connections.  A good brand of electrical panel (and one that is capable of being used in sub-panel mode) is Siemens.

Siemens 40/40 panel 

Whatever brand you pick, get one that uses copper bus bars.

The thing that is an even higher factor in picking the brand of panel may well be price of AFCI breakers in go into it given that AFCI is needed on almost all 15 and 20 amp circuits.  As it happens, the Siemens AFCI breakers are as low cost as they come (which at $35 each is still expensive).

Sub-panels must have separate earth and neutral

In a sub-panel it is necessary to keep the Neutral and the Earth connections separate.  Good panels (such as the Siemens) allow you to separate the neutral bus to make it into two separate busses (one for neutral and one for earth).  Only in the Main Panel are the two connected.  This means that the wire from the Main Panel to a Sub-panel needs to have 4 conductors:  Live1, Live2, Neutral, and Earth.  It is ok for the earth wire to not be separately insulated, but the other three need to be individually insulated.  When connecting wire to the sub-panel for a 110V circuit (eg a string of power sockets) then you will connect the live to a suitable breaker, the neutral to the neutral bus, and the earth to the earth bus.

Main-Lug sub-panels

If you decide that it is not a required convenience to have a master on/off breaker on your sub-panel, then you can use a "Main-Lug" instead of a full panel.  This may be a reasonable choice if you just want to distribute power to a shed.  If there is no main breaker then you will rely on the breaker in the main panel to provide the current limiting and to provide a master on/off switch.  A good Siemens main-lug that provides 8 spaces for full sized breakers, has copper bus bars, has an included earth bus bar, and can be installed outside is here .

Siemens 8/16 Main Lug Outdoor 


Install generator transfer panel and external connector box

Inside the house, next to the internal subpanel, use an internal generator transfer panel fed via an external connector box and a generator.  The has the breakers for the circuits in the house that need to be available in a power cut.

Generator Transfer Internal Panel

Generator connection box


Install Grounding stake

Having good grounding for all your electrical panels will protect the electronics in your house and might even safe your life.  When surge protectors trigger they need to be able to dump excess energy into the ground and you need to get rid of that energy or else the surge protector will not help you.

Rather than just using the two 6 foot separated metal stakes in the ground it is worth going above a beyond.  Using 10 copper clad 8 foot long 5/8" diameter stakes driven into earth (not stones) that rain water will flow to will provide a much better ground.  Put the first two stakes close to the panel with about an 8 foot spacing because this will ensure you meet building code.  Put the other 8 stakes in an earth swale (shallow ditch to channel ground water flow).  Use 6" of gravel in the swale to help water collect.  Put the stakes about 10 feet apart and bang them in so that the tops are 6" below the surface (the 6" will be covered by gravel).  Connect all the stakes using thick stranded copper wire of at least #4 diameter.  I recommend using "copper 2/0" wire as it is the most common and therefore least expensive, even though having insulation is not needed for a ground wire.  Use good quality acorn clamps (UL approved for burial) to daisy-chain attach the wire to the stakes.  Keep the wire a continuous piece rather than having any joins.  Burry the wire between stakes 6" below the surface.  Use conduit on the wire to protect it from being damaged if someone is digging with a spade (or at least make it obvious if it has been damaged).  If you have a Well then layout the stakes in the direction of the Well and continue the wire on past the stakes to the Well metal casing.  This will need something like a total of 150 feet of earth wire because there is a building exclusion area of 100 feet radius around any Well.  The metal casing of a Well is a very good earth so it is highly beneficial to connect it into your grounding system.

Even though a sub-panel must separately connect the earth back to the earth of the main panel (and the ground in the sub-panel must not be connected to the neutral in the sub-panel), it is still highly desirable to provide a grounding system associated with the sub-panel.  Having a good earth close to your actual house (rather than the main panel in your yard) is actually the most important because all your sensitive electronics will mainly be in your house.  In my case, the main panel in the yard just has a grounding system that just meets code by having two earth stakes.  Associated with the house (ie the house sub-panel) there is a really good "10 stake + Well" grounding system.  If the main panel in the yard gets hit by lightning then it may even be that the lowest resistance path to earth will be via the ground wire to the sub-panel and from there to the house grounding system, but that's perfectly ok.

Inside your house you should run a ground wire back to the panel ground for anything large that is metal, eg duct work, garage door runners, etc.  To avoid having to run too many ground wires it is best to avoid metal conduit, metal pipes, and metal electrical boxes.  Using plastic is a much better choice.


Install whole house power surge arrestor

It is highly recommended that you install a whole house power surge arrestor in your main panel and in any sub-panel that feeds electronic equipment.  The best brand I have found is from Tytewadd and it's detailed here .

Tytewadd whole house power surge arrestor 

This will clamp your 120V to stop it exceeding 130V, and clamp your 240V to stop it exceeding 260V.  In the case of a large event such as a lightening strike it may sacrifice itself in the process and become a short circuit to trip your breaker.  You should install it on an in-use high current dual pole breaker in your panel so that it's obvious to you if the surge arrestor has had to sacrifice itself.

In my case I have one in the 600A main panel but connected the other side of the 200A breaker that feeds the primary sub-panel in the house.  It protects all of the 600A circuit but only the 200A breaker will trip if it has to sacrifice itself.  I also have another one in the house sub-panel that feeds sensitive electronics and this is connected to the dual pole breaker that feeds the kitchen range.  If the one in the house sacrifices itself then I will know because the kitchen range will stop working.


Install Internet

Into the house will either come telephone wires or coax if the modem will be inside the house or Cat-6 Ethernet if the modem is elsewhere on the property.  In my case, Cat-6 is provisioned to the building so Cat-6 cable comes through the wall in conduit.  It is fed to an Ethernet Switch box that is screwed to the wall in a convenient place.  Leave a bit of extra cable length in case you re-site the box or replace it with a bigger unit.


Install TV feed

This often takes the form of one or more coax cables coming through the wall.  These days it is good to use a NetTuner than can convert coax to IP over your house's Cat-6 Ethernet cabling.