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sarah_james482

Cost / Benefit to Lowering a Floor a Short Distance

3 years ago
last modified: 3 years ago

Hello!

I live in a Phoenix house that was built in the 1930s with additions added in the 50s/60s. One area of the house has three steps (~2 feet tall) up to 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (one bathroom is part of a bedroom). We want to tile the floor in this area (right now it's the cheap Home Depot vinyl stuff - previous homeowner install) and are wondering if it makes sense to lower the floor when we do this? The ceilings are pretty low right now (~8ft - 10ft tall, approximately), so lowering it would give us more clearance.

I have no concept of how much of a pain in the @ss it's going to be or if it's even worth it. I would assume that, keeping the same floor layout, we would need to reframe the walls, but what else should we consider? Is this something that is going to cost (I know that nobody can give real numbers because all projects are different) in the 1k - 3k range, 3k - 5k range, or, like 5k+ range? The cost range I'm asking about is separate from the actual floor install - asking what it would add to lower the floors ONLY - trying to gauge additional cost considerations if we were doing that vs. simply adding new flooring.

It's a bit of a pandora's box - we want to get new flooring but wonder if that should include the extra projects such as lowering the floor (if possible?) - and that opens up things such as "well, should we also remodel the bathroom if we are already needing to reframe everything" ? You catch my drift here.

Any and all advice would be most welcomed - pictures of the raised section attached.





Comments (18)

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Impossible to tell without knowing what is under the steps and or the balance of the flooring system. Guarantee you it will be well north of the 5K number if the floor joist system is wood. Stupid money if concrete slab (if even possible).

  • 3 years ago

    Would this be something a home inspector could check for me? Or would I want to go with a general contractor to review it and provide an estimate of cost?

  • 3 years ago

    I would get a GC in to look at it for feasibility. I would not trust a Home Inspector for that type of work.

    SJ thanked millworkman
  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Perhaps I am not understanding correctly but you would be lowering the floor of a bathroom. That seem to involve gutting the bathroom which would be at least $15,000 just to "restore". I am basing that figure on a fairly builder grade bathroom and what the cost would be to remodel to that level.

    What would you be gaining in functionality and aesthetics since the elevated area leading from the steps seems pretty self contained and closed. It is not that uncommon to have different levels leading to separate areas of a home - especially bedrooms. It is not as if the different level is part of an open floor plan - which I have seen in a few homes. But I am just basing this on the picture posted which shows steps leading to a discrete separate area of your home.

    I do understand about not knowing whether to snowball a renovation project. I put off my remodel for several years and put a hold on ANY projects because I couldn't figure out how to do one thing without it impacting other parts of my home which would then logically, aesthetically and functionally need to be taken care of - and then that would open up further things that should be done at the same time.


    ETA - I would probably not level it but I would certain design a sleeker transition from one area to another because the current one is extremely out dated and somewhat depressing looking. If you had a more stylish transition area, the different levels would not seem to be so ugly.

    SJ thanked Helen
  • 3 years ago

    It would be the entire floor, which includes 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The primary reason for this exploration would be to increase the overall height of our ceilings as they are very low in that area of the house - I do not mind having the different levels to the house overall; however, given the chance to potentially increase the clearance height from floor to ceiling I wanted to explore the feasibility and cost.


    So far, sounds like it will be expensive :)

  • 3 years ago

    You won’t really know until you get an estimate, but I’d be surprised if you get back the cost on resale. So its really how much it’s worth to you.

    Id think that moving the floor would require reframing the walls, moving the door frames, replacing the drywall, maybe addressing the height of electrical outlets&switches, then figuring out how you feel about the windows being higher.

    SJ thanked Indecisiveness
  • 3 years ago

    The ceilings are pretty low right now (~8ft - 10ft tall, approximately), so lowering it would give us more clearance.

    If 8'-10' ceiling is pretty low, how high do you think your ceilings need to be?

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    We did the opposite of what you want to do, We raised the floor in our family room to eliminate the steps for someone in a wheelchair. So to be able to go all over the house, For that it entailed new floor joists, raising the light plugs, raising the windows and curtains, shortening the fan in the ceiling, relaying the carpet, and things like that. I think your task might be expensive but if you have anyone in the house who can't do steps, it may be worth it, Our sons did the carpentry work and we found an electrician and a carpet layer for the rest of the work.

    SJ thanked erinsean
  • 3 years ago

    @oberon476 "If 8'-10' ceiling is pretty low, how high do you think your ceilings need to be?"


    High enough where when I change my shirt I don't have to worry about getting my arms caught in the ceiling fan....which is already a low profile fan... :)

  • 3 years ago

    What about raising the ceilings/roof?

    8’ is pretty standard. Have you ever considered bending at the waist or moving out from under the ceiling fan when you remove your shirt ;-)

  • 3 years ago

    @fraker I usually just pretend I'm a hobbit...

  • 3 years ago

    I don't see enough benefit to justify the price tag. I would update the transition area and ignore the ceiling height issues...so says the person who must wear heavy socks to hit 5 feet, so my opinion might be useless for you!

    I can't tell if the steps are the same rise, but if not, I would certainly tackle that issue. I would likely remove the room divider piece and have the entire width open. A short handrail would be a nice addition even though not required, especially if a powder room isn't available on the lower floor level. If an occupant ever temporarily or permanently developed mobility issues, you would be happy the railing was already installed.

  • 3 years ago

    Looks and sounds like it would be cheaper to tear down & rebuild.


    Pipe dream. Would cost more than the structure is worth. That is if it is even possible.

  • 3 years ago

    I'm thinking the $100K is in the ball park. Even if it is HALF of that = $50,000 in a SUPER DEPRESSED AREA of the world (like South Africa where the cost of labour is about $50/day for each worker...not kidding), can you afford it?

  • 3 years ago

    I need someone to explain to me how lowering the floor is even possible. Beyond removing a couple/ three layers of accumulated flooring.

    Also need to know how much 'a little bit' is because OP's 'little bit' is: "High enough where when I change my shirt I don't have to worry about getting my arms caught in the ceiling fan.." Which I translate to mean 'quite a bit to a whole lot!'

    As well as a hard number on the existing ceiling height, not some guesstimate of ~8ft - 10ft tall, approximately.

    Which is all cart before horse information anyway. From the photo, this appears to be part raised foundation, wood frame floor in the original house and slab on grade for step down level. OP needs to clarify.

    There is one possibility. Given part of the house was built in the 1930's in Phoenix in the era before air conditioning, just maybe the ceilings have been lowered at some point. In that case, it would be entirely possible to restore the original ceiling height.

  • 3 years ago

    That’s a lot of space. Get a GC to poke a hole (or a few) to see what is underneath. They usually have a camera they can stick down there to take a look around. We did this when I lowered my dining room, which was just a wood platform with slate on it. I didn’t have to reframe walls, just had to add drywall. I had one duct to reroute. You will need to know if you need to deal with any plumbing, ductwork, etc. first before anyone can give you a number. Then you will have a better idea what is involved. The demo part is cheap. Not sure what labor prices are like now, but a few months ago I was able to demo it for $1 a sq ft in Phx.

  • 3 years ago

    So, Im assuming the bedrooms/bathrooms are the original part of the house and the step down is the addition? Is the original house on a crawlspace?

    Wouldnt you have to re-do the entire foundation to lower the floors? And where would your plumbing and ducting go?