I did something like that just 4 to 5 months ago. My suggestions are:
- Check the basement head room. If the basement has a low ceiling
already, you may not want to spend too much effort in converting it
into a living space. A low ceiling will not be a very nice living
space given the time and effort and money that you will spend on
converting it. My basement has a low ceiling and I converted it
anyway. If I could start this over with, I would not bother converting
it. Moreover, if you raised the floor (in order to make the floor
even) and then put in a drop ceiling, your basement head room will be
even lower than it is now.
- Leveling the floor with leveling compound or concrete is no fun, is
hard work (bad for your knees), is nothing to be proud of (I gain no
credit by pointing at my floor and tell my friends: "I level it!"), is
very easy to make mistake, and is next to impossible to undo the
mistake, and is costly if making mistake. You are better off
contracting this out. If I could do this over with, I would surely
hire a pro to do that part of the job.
- At the minimum, you should postpone this until you have lived in
your new house for a year or two. Then, you will see whether your
basement really has no water problem or not. Watching it for one
season is not enough in my opinion because the water can come from
many places that may only come in a heavy rain storm. Moreover, after
one or two years, you will have a much better idea of how you can use
the space in the basement.
- Considering the time and money that you need to spend on fixing the
basement and if the ceiling head is low, you may find that leaving the
basement for storage may be a good idea. Or you can simply put rubber
tiles over some area in the basement and use that area for doing
exercise (put plastic sheet under the rubber tiles). I have seen very
nicely done storage area in an unfinished basement in one of the
Sunday Times Magazine. Or you can put your workshop there. You really
don't have to finish it.
- The "self-leveling" property of leveling compound is much less than
what you and I might have thought. It is "self-leveling" as being
compared to concrete. It may work in a small area (like a small
bathroom). But in a large area, you still need to help it along with
- Leveling compound is very expensive. If your floor is so uneven,
you need to even it somewhat with concrete before using the expensive
leveling compound. Or better yet, you can use wood strips to level the
floor if you don't mind losing the vertical space for the wood strips.
- Find the exact level line in your room using a laser leveler or a
water-tube leveler and then transfer the level line to the floor
level, instead of depending on the so-called self-leveling property of
the leveling compound.
- Use a string to connect the leveling line that you have marked on
the wall to find the high spots and low spots in your floor instead of
depending on eye-balling.
- Mark the high spots in your floor, and never pour anything that
will be above the high spots. This is easy to pour the concrete and
leveling compound; but this is very difficult to remove them if you
pour too much and they have become hardened.
Hope I have talked you out of doing this. Good luck with whatever that
you will decide to do.