The basement floor needed leveling. In it's unfinished state, the floors in the basement grade so that any water in the room flows toward the door to the outside, which has a drain. This isn't super great considering that it means any water flowing from inside ends up rotting the door to the outside. Thankfully that hasn't been a problem. I assume originally it was so that if you did scrub the floor you could sweep the water out of the room easily. A floor that slopes that much is not a good substrate for new flooring. Given that it's a basement in an area with a high water table, we decided we wanted to go with a wood look tile once we got to that step, but large tiles will not tolerate that kind of variation in the floor. Sooooooooooooooooo it looked like we were going to need to level the floor.
Now as the person who thought this whole project was going to take three months (I was starting to realize how crazy that timeline seemed at this point) I definitely thought we could do this on our own. Mr. Handy was not so convinced--and he was not wrong to be slightly concerned about taking on this task. He spent a whole day taking measurements across a grid in the basement to find the high and low points of the room and then estimate the total volume of self-leveler that we would need for the room (who said you'd never use calculus again!), and we eventually came up with 22 bags of concrete. My initial reaction was, "great! let's hit up home depot and get started!" Mr. Handy, being slightly more cautious wanted to think some more about whether we had any business dumping 22 bags of concrete on the floor or whether we should get actual professionals. We ended up waiting a week to make the final call.
In the end we decided that we could do it and zipped off to home depot to pick up the supplies! We cleaned the floors, etched the existing concrete so that the new stuff would stick, prepped the floor with the adhesive that goes between layers and got to work.
Do you wanna know what's less fun than carrying 22 bags of concrete that each weigh 50lbs into your house? Mixing and pouring all of it--which is how I spent my birthday last year.
We actually did a pretty good job with the floor! There were a few places where we had some dips and high spots from not being able to pour and finesse the concrete fast enough. We took a new set of measurements to see how much we'd need to fix it and kept getting crazy calculations. Being a basement we were already working with limited ceiling height and I wasn't trying to keep raising the height of the floor just to make tiny fixes. So this is where we decided to call in a pro to do some final refinements. They came in and ground down the few high spots and used a few more bags of concrete to fill in the dips. Doing it mostly ourselves plus having a pro come in and do the final refinements we still ended up doing this at 1/3 the cost of having a pro do it from start to finish. Not bad!