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I'm thinking about taking out this weird nook in my basement, along with the white-topped blocks/supports that surround it.

Is there any reason I shouldn't? In other words - is there a likely purpose the nook serves that means I ought to leave it alone? It's not near any water pipes, electrical wires or ducts. I drilled a 1" deep pilot hole in the far block/support, and - so far as I can tell - it's just filled with polystyrene insulation.

Weird basement nook.

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    I have a hunch there is something inside one end or the other. The middle part makes sense, but the ends don't. Hiding something. If I were to build a nook like that deliberately, I would make the end sections storage. So there is something going on. Just don't know what. Commented Jul 9 at 3:37
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    someone went in lots of work making it and making the room smaller, wonder why
    – Traveler
    Commented Jul 9 at 3:39
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    It looks like one end would fit 3 bodies, and the other 2 bodies. Remove at your own risk. Okay, more seriously (hopefully), I agree that someone put a lot of work into making that structure. It's a nice little reading nook right now, but if you're set on removing it, I recommend cutting a couple small holes and inserting a lighted inspection scope to take a look inside. Just don't embarrass yourself and uncover nothing on overhyped live TV like the Geraldo Rivera infamously did: youtube.com/watch?v=9LWAwWwIe7Y Commented Jul 9 at 8:42
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    Start out by removing the tops.
    – JACK
    Commented Jul 9 at 16:43
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    This is a good example of "Chesterton's Fence" - the idea that fences don't spring out of the ground naturally, somebody had to have put it there, and evidently had some reason that made it worthwhile to spend the time, energy and material to do so. There is certainly some reason why this nook is there which needs to be figured out before deciding whether you can remove it, whether the reason is "it's holding the house up" or "they thought it would look nice". Commented Jul 10 at 15:44

3 Answers 3

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If the window is more than 3' 8" above the floor, then the window seat is required for egress.

As adopted by many localities...

International Residential Code

R310.2.2 Window sill height. Where a window is provided as the emergency escape and rescue opening, it shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor; where the sill height is below grade, it shall be provided with a window well in accordance with Section R310.2.3.

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    But then why not make it the same height all the way across? Commented Jul 9 at 16:28
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Maybe to prevent people from sleeping there. They may not have wanted the seat to look like a built-in bed due to sleeping room requirements, zoning or taxes.
    – user71659
    Commented Jul 9 at 18:03
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    This might explain the platform under the window, but not the large end caps which seem to have been specifically built at different heights for a reason we don't know. It's odd they would be built to be tall, large, and non-matching if there's nothing inside them. All the homeowner needed to do to meet code was install a 12" wide step, it strikes me as strange that they would prefer wasting all this space if egress window code compliance was the only consideration. Why wouldn't they build this with no end caps at all if they could have? Commented Jul 10 at 15:35
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    @NuclearHoagie the far one is as high as it needs to be to enclose something, I reckon, while the near one is almost but not quite window sill height. Overall I think the thing that would bug me most is that both sides just don't quite line up with the window recess. And the lack of cupboard doors. Even if it's boxing in pipework, put a door on it, add a simple false bottom/back, and use the space.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 11 at 12:11
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Suggestion - get a cheap borescope camera for a few dollars. The $10 ones would be fine, they use a phone to function as the display and provide power. Drill a small hole through the plasterboard, something you can patch later if necessary.

Use a blunt+insulated screwdriver to worm a hole into the polystychrene you mentioned inside. Then poke your camera in and see what's there. Take a photo of what you see, and post that here.

You could use the camera to try and look around/through that power point in the corner too, though I suspect there's a stud in the way.

It may be easiest to raise the hard seating surface that is under the cushions, rather than lift the two white "column tops" Hopefully this will let you see into the corner blockers.

I look forward to more info on what you find inside - please don't leave us hanging !

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    I'd start by drilling for the borescope, first through the seat under its carpet covering, then diagonally from the same point into the side pods, and hopefully you get enough of a view that way. If not, next place to drill is the sides of the pods behind the pillows. None of these holes would need full redecorating.
    – jay613
    Commented Jul 9 at 22:52
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    I bought a cheap borescope off of Amazon. Should be arrive by Monday - I’ll update everyone here on what I find Commented Jul 11 at 23:39
  • @infinitely_improbable Nice ! they're handy tools, good for looking in all sorts of things.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 11 at 23:41
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Losing the windows would be a deal-breaker for me... oh, you want to make the room bigger?

On a good day expect to find retaining walls. gnarly plumbing, and/or bedrock inside that.

On a bad day, a crime scene, and/or UXO.

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    Foundation piling or remedial underpinning. Commented Jul 9 at 12:35
  • @MarkMorganLloyd in a basement it's that or plumbing I reckon. In my en suite, it's the ceiling over the stairs that's hidden by a hastily re-planned bench/shelf. There's usually something
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 11 at 12:13

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