Cleaned out the basement to start framing walls. 1950s house with a lot of water pipes below the floor joists. The main wall has a pipe about 5 inches away from the wall but runs along the majority of the wall. Would you recommend:

  1. Building the wall up to the floor joist behind the pipe, then build a soffit around the pipe.
  2. build the wall in front of the pipe, potentially losing about half a foot of space across the room.
  3. Build the wall up to a lower point then the floor joist and build a soffit from the floor joist to the top of the wall

See the picture for the area I'm referring to.

basement pipe

  • Height of basement? Height under pipe? Piddly little pipe close to the ceiling makes me think drop ceiling unless the clearance is very low...
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:13
  • Ground to floor joist is 83" already low
    – Technupe
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:22
  • I only know a couple of 7+ foot tall folks personally, so despite "what's considered normal" I don't see things that a 6'8" person won't hit their head on as a huge problem in most houses, having experienced a lot of olde new england houses where 72" was considered plenty by the builders in some parts. YMMV...
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:32
  • There are a ton more pipes around the basement especially around the furnace that I'll probably have to walk in and just lose out on that space. But this is my main wall. I'm ok with a ceiling that's lower
    – Technupe
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


Personally, I would enclose it in a soffit from the pipe to the wall (option 3). That way you may not have to rerun your power cables as long as the window doesn't interfere. Also the drywalling will be simpler.
Edit You will need to frame out the soffit with 2x4s same as you would do if you framed a wall but it'll be a lot less work and material. Hard to tell from the picture but you may need to move those cables to frame your wall. You'll have to butt the header up against the ceiling joists and they may interfere.
Again, you need to figure out how to frame around that window, especially with the soffit. You need to maintain enough clearance. If the soffit interferes with the window you may have to just wrap the pipes with the soffit.

  • Thanks so what would I attach the soffit to? And why would I need to rerun the wires? Curious.
    – Technupe
    Apr 4, 2020 at 16:49
  • You attach the soffit to the floor joists shown in your picture. And lots of basements have "soffits" hiding things like main beams and HVAC duct work. So most of the ceiling is ~8' high, except it drops down where the soffits are located.
    – SteveSh
    Apr 4, 2020 at 17:42
  • The foundation wall is offset from the cables about 4 inches. So even if I put a frame against the foundation wall the cables will still behind the frame (not touching)
    – Technupe
    Apr 4, 2020 at 18:24
  • You'll also have to provide access to that water shutoff in the picture as well as any other water and electrical junctions that may need access. That is one of the advantages of just doing a drop ceiling. It's all trade-offs.
    – HoneyDo
    Apr 4, 2020 at 18:36
  • Just a thought: Depending on what climate zone you are in, you may not want to insulate the pipe from the basement... Both to protect it and, if it's part of a hydronic heating system, to steal a bit if it's heat to warm the basement (which is rarely a zone of its own)
    – keshlam
    Nov 28, 2022 at 1:11

Here is what I did in my basement. I glued 1" styrofoam T&G 4X8 sheets to the basement walls and taped all the joints with a foil tape. Then I added a bottom 2X4 plate using anchors drilled into the basement floor. I used Simpson anchors M# Sl37300H 3/8 X 3" or Red Head anchors M# 11013 same size. Note if you penetrate the concrete floor, pump in some silicone caulk to act as a waterproofer. Screw a 2X4 top plate to the joists. Run the vertical 2X4 studs 16"C floor to ceiling and notch the top of the stud to clear wiring etc if necessary. You can insulate the walls with 3.5" batt insulation and finish the walls as you like. (paneling, drywall, etc.) For the ceiling I would use a 2X2 drop ceiling with 3" minimum or 4" max tile to ceiling clearance. This would still give you a floor to ceiling clearance of about 79 to 80". Just don't invite any very tall friends to the basement. It works great for me.

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