A home fix up project- expert ideas please

<p>I have home with a split level home with a walk out style basement suite. 2/3 of the width of the house was supposed to be finished, but was not completed prior to our purchase. We are talking about finishing off that area for both a rec room/office and a finished storage area.</p>

<p>The floor that was poured is quite uneven. The contractor recommends tile with heat pads. Any thoughts? He says since we have to pay all the money to float it anyway in order to level it, might as well go with a nice tile; usually the carpet people use is a cheap fix. </p>

<p>We live in the PNW, so wet & cool weather is the norm. Anyone have in floor heating? Think that would be appealing if it was warm?</p>

<p>The other issue is mustiness. Our house is on a hill, the space that would not be completed is sloped and covered with that plastic stuff that you use in crawl spaces and there is a curtain drain at the bottom of that slope.</p>

<p>How do I eliminate musty smells? There will always be moisture seeping out of the slope and taken away by the drain, but I can still smell a musty smell sometimes. Do I need to add ventilation?</p>

<p>I have no encyclopedia of basement & moisture knowledge, as I spent most of my life in hot, dry places.</p>

<p>All i know is to get rid of the mustyness would be to air it out. Open all the windows in the house and get some of those box fans and let them rip.</p>

<p>Honestly, in floor heating sounds like to much of a pain to be dealing. I lived in montana for 4 years and it was wet more often then dry. You'll get used to it, i promise.</p>

<p>I know several people with in-floor heat that love, love, love it.</p>

<p>Damp basements--a constant event in my state. Get a really good dehumidifier--if it freezes where you are, get one that will still operate at the lower temperatures (many of them will ice under ~60 degrees). They are excellent at removing moisture from the air. Have them drain via hose to a sump pit, etc, so you don't have to empty the bucket. They work great at fixing the moisture problem.</p>

<p>I recommend the forums on GardenWeb.com for all kinds of great ideas and advice. Nearly as addictive as this board. They have one for remodeling that might be a good start. The kitchen and bath forums have threads on heated floors also.
Your problem with moisture in the rest of the lower level needs to be evaluated. Is there groundwater or run-off water coming in that needs to be re-directed with a french drain outside the foundation? Is there a leak from any plumbing or AC unit draining into the space (don't laugh, I know someone who discovered both a bad leak from the kitchen sink drain and that the HVAC guys had run the AC drain right into the crawl space. Eeeww now wonder it smelled funny down there!)
I just had new tile installed in my master bath - a matte finish 18" tile that looks like travertine. I can't get over how much nicer it feels underfoot than the cheap stuff the builder put in.</p>

<p>It's hard to get rid of mustiness in the northwest. It scares me enough that I'd have a couple experts come in and check it out. Maybe they'd do it as part of a "free estimate" and you can get their advice without paying expert-opinion prices.</p>

<p>I had heat put in our master bath floor when I replaced the linoleum with tile a couple years ago. It has been no problem at all and VERY nice on those winter mornings. The cat loves it. I should have done it with the other bathrooms, too.</p>

<p>dragonmom is right on about GardenWeb.com --been using them for over ten years.
We have a daylight house in PDX and have a partial crawl space connected to 3 bedrooms, bath etc. Make sure your crawl has been covered with black plastic and there are vents. Also, I so so wish I had put heated floors on that level and may still do so.
We have not one scent of mildew in our house. I would come unglued if we did.
Oh, AND we have a small spring under the lower floor with a french drain taking the water out onto our very sloped yard...so you do need to find out where your musty source is coming from.</p>

<p>Our 'dirt' slope is covered with the standard black plastic and there is a french drain, so those basics seem covered, the flat floor on the other side of that drain has never been wet in an weather, but I have always smelled mustiness in the basement. I wonder if I just need more serious vents?</p>

<p>I am not sure about using a dehumidifier if there are vents, isn't that just never going to keep up when the air outdoors is damp, too?</p>

<p>Who is the expert in these kinds of things? General contractor? Who else would you call to come out and check it out?</p>