Go to Forum Home Building Design Basement escape well construction

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    • #31306
      Anonymous

      In my new house we're proposing to have a basement. The plan is for the basement walls to be constructed from block/precast concrete, tanked on the outside and then insulated with a thick layer of EPS insulation. The basement slab will be laid on top of a layer of insulation, with slab and wall insulation meeting up around the outside. So far, so good – good performance, no thermal bridges etc.

      However, for safety purposes we need to have an emergency escape route that doesn't involve the normal stairs, which basically means an escape well. See (hopefully) attached diagram for a plan view.

      The question is how best to construct this to minimise thermal bridges between the main wall structure and the exit well, stop ground water filling up the exit well and maintain the tanking around the walls of the main structure.

      I've looked in the PassivHaus details book, but there isn't really anything similar. or that is obviously easily adaptable.

      Any ideas or thoughts are very welcome.

    • #37211
      Nick Grant
      Participant

      Hi Mark

      Usual detail in Germany is to make the stairs bit outside the thermal envelope with exterior door at the bottom and an Aco type drain between the two draining to fresh air.

      I hope you are on a sloping or very free draining site!!

      Nick

    • #37212
      Anonymous

      Hi Mark

      Usual detail in Germany is to make the stairs bit outside the thermal envelope with exterior door at the bottom and an Aco type drain between the two draining to fresh air.

      Thanks – this seems to be the best option.

      I hope you are on a sloping or very free draining site!!

      Nick

      Unfortunately not on a slope, but should be reasonably free draining although we are likely to get hit by running water coming down a nearby hill and along the top of limestone sheets starting about 1.5m down. Hopefully we can find a solution for this, but I think we may need the backup of a sump pump in the exit well.

    • #37213
      Claire Jenkins
      Participant

      Do all basements need a separate exit? The design I'm playing with at the moment has a half flight of stairs up to the main entrance hall, but this is also the stairwell going up to the rest of the house, so I suppose a fire could spread down and block the way out. Would an escape window be acceptable? I hadn't planned an external window in, and was thinking about a big glass panel in the floor above at one end and light coming down the stairwell at the other.
      Thanks
      Claire

    • #37214
      Claire Jenkins
      Participant

      Thanks very much, Mark. It sounds as if we might get away without it, as we definitely wouldn't be setting it up to be a sleeping area, just utility, laundry, storage, maybe workshop type functions. Though they could perhaps argue that later occupants could change that, I think it would be unlikely with so little daylight.
      We'll have to discuss with building control if we decide to go ahead with the basement.
      Claire

    • #37215
      Anonymous

      Thanks very much, Mark. It sounds as if we might get away without it, as we definitely wouldn't be setting it up to be a sleeping area, just utility, laundry, storage, maybe workshop type functions. Though they could perhaps argue that later occupants could change that, I think it would be unlikely with so little daylight.
      We'll have to discuss with building control if we decide to go ahead with the basement.
      Claire

      I'd recommend discussing it with building control relatively early. If they insist on a separate escape then it could have a big impact on the design.

    • #37216
      Claire Jenkins
      Participant

      Mark
      We'll definitely consult in good time, though we've still got three and a half years till estimated time to start building! There are still some major design questions undecided; I'm waiting for my copy of PHPP to arrive to try my hand at playing around with the options. The basement would be rather a luxury and probably make the house a bit larger than we had originally intended, as well as being costly. It would help get the figures into PH range, but we're not dead set on certification anyway.
      What are the main advantages of the basement for your design?
      Claire

    • #37217
      Anonymous

      Mark
      We'll definitely consult in good time, though we've still got three and a half years till estimated time to start building! There are still some major design questions undecided; I'm waiting for my copy of PHPP to arrive to try my hand at playing around with the options. The basement would be rather a luxury and probably make the house a bit larger than we had originally intended, as well as being costly. It would help get the figures into PH range, but we're not dead set on certification anyway.
      What are the main advantages of the basement for your design?
      Claire

      The main advantage is to increase the living space on a restricted plot. As a minor point distributing the living space across three stories helps to make our building close to a cube, which helps to minimise the energy losses per unit of habitable floor space. Compared to an equivalent floor space on any other number of floors it will be more efficient.

      However, it's not without its problems – retaining walls/piling to protect neighbour's houses, waterproofing, cost etc. If the plot would support it we would be better off doing it all above ground, even if only on two floors, but this isn't the case.

    • #37218
      Claire Jenkins
      Participant

      Thanks, Mark
      It sounds as if your reasons for going along the basement route are much more decisive than ours.
      We'll go on weighing it in the balance.
      Claire

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