A Long Boring Post About my Basement

We have lived in our “starter” home for ten years now, and it is possible that this starter home may well end up being our finishing home. It’s a good house in a great neighbourhood. Small? Very, at just under 1100 square feet. Enough for us? Absolutely, IF we finish the basement.

Considering that our house was built in 1939, our basement is not as bad as it might have been. It was sort of dry (less dry than we thought it turns out after we pulled out some walls) and had an acceptable ceiling height. The basement was divided into a finished part with a small bathroom and then an unfinished part. The finished part was all right but definitely not great, and recently there was a section of the floor that felt, well, spongy underfoot. Also there were markedly more sightings of the absolutely wretched house centipedes which were a sign that there could be some water coming in. Ugh, shudder, bleah!

The decision to finally renovate the basement was made easier by the fact that Tony works from home and his office is downstairs. It was a dark and cave-like area that would be a bit soul destroying if you had to spend every day there. He could often be found at the local Bridgehead with his laptop and their WIFI just so that he could get out of the house. If he were to continue working from home, the renovation really had to happen.

This won’t be our first renovation together in this house. Three years ago we ripped out our entire ground floor, taking out the old lath and plaster walls right down to the studs. Our small home had been divided up into bitty rooms: a small living room, dining room and galley kitchen, with a load of wasted space being used as a hallway. Our friend Murray did the design for us and drew the plans, and then Tony did most of the work himself. He ripped everything out and put in the electrical, drywall, ducting, flooring, with help from friends and family. Experts were hired when needed such as the plumber to move the dishwasher pipe, and in the end we had our kitchen installed for us. Tony would have loved to tackle the cabinetry but we didn’t really have that kind of time available.

Well worth it in the end. We love our bright and opened up ground floor. It’s so efficient that we have more kitchen cupboard space than many kitchens that are twice as big as ours. So when we decided to go ahead and do the basement, we didn’t hesitate to call Murray again to design it, and this time to do the work too. He has been letting Tony help a bit too which is nice for Tony – I think he would have felt a little left out if he couldn’t be involved.

The plans are now complete and include a new family room, office, laundry area and storage space. We will have to reluctantly give up our still working, but very old washer and dryer, for a space-saving, stackable, and more efficient set. We really have to take advantage of every opportunity to save space (our house really is very small, did I mention?) But it is hard to give up our dryer which still works perfectly at about age 20, for one that is designed to fail after ten years. Honestly, the store sales person told us that outright.

Once the old walls and floors were ripped out, we discovered a lot of water damage in the concrete of one exterior wall. This will mean that we will have to rip up our driveway in the spring and dig down to do some exterior waterproofing work… this is how one thing leads to another, doesn’t it? We thought briefly about digging down a bit further to make higher ceilings downstairs, but the whole basement is sitting on bedrock so we have decided to let that idea go. We also discovered tree roots making their way up into the basement, so the silver maple in the back yard finally has to go. It has been on the watch list now for years as it is too close to the house, huge, and basically a weed tree. Its time has come, but oh I will miss its shade on the back deck.

So here we are, the old basement has been ripped out and the dumpster has been hauled away; repair work is ongoing, and the plumbing lines have been dug out, moved and replaced. This is the unglamorous and time-consuming stuff. The fun is coming with flooring and framing and the next steps can move along quite quickly. Also fun has been working with friend Joanne T. Lauzon of inDetail. She has already helped us pick out colours and materials since Tony and I are completely and utterly style challenged.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a word about Logan, Murray’s two year old boxer. Logan is a lucky dog because he gets to go to work with Murray every day. We have no pets of our own and so it has been fun for us to have such a lovely dog at our house. Logan’s gentle and affectionate personality has worked its way into all of our hearts. He loves our girls, and they have showered him with loving and treats. He does have a tendency to go after their toys, but he picks them up very gently and then looks at you, asking if it can be his. When told to drop it, he does with a sigh. He has really been enjoying the Dora ball that the girls have let him have though. It will burst soon, which will mean one fewer Dora item around the house. Go Logan!

More updates to come, plus eventually the before and after pics!

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About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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10 Responses to A Long Boring Post About my Basement

  1. JoeGirl says:

    Fabulous post, Fin! I love all the detailed descriptions of your reno journey to date. And I *almost* believed it, until you came to that part about having a DOG in your house, and loving him! Now THAT is just crazy! There’s hope for you yet!

    Super post. I think you need to remove the word “boring” from the title 😉

  2. gryph says:

    I hope your new, efficient stackables beat the odds! Kind of defeats the purpose of being efficient if the whole thing needs to be replaced in 10 years…

    If I end up buying a place I need to reno, I'll know who to come to for some how-to's. 🙂

  3. Finola says:

    Thanks Joe! It's my self-deprecating sense of humour that makes me say boring. No one has noticed the “blandwagon” I have under my blog title??

    Jennifer,
    I KNOW about the efficiency thing and wonder why the environmental groups aren't all over that yet. I wanted to work that in but never found the right wording, so thanks for providing the opportunity here 🙂

  4. JoeGirl says:

    I noticed it! It’s also ridiculously funny! I saw it right away, and meant to mention it… Sorry 😉

  5. For someone like me who does not have a basement, this is certainly not a long boring post!! I have total basement envy … I will listen to every reno detail you care to share! We too are living in our “starter” home — for that last 12 years that is.

  6. Paul says:

    Finola, did you ever meet my friend Martin. He's doing (did?) his basement by digging down to give his basement high ceilings. Quite impressive, but he dug out most of the dirt himself. And he had pros helping him, too.

  7. finola says:

    Paul, Tony says he had a long talk with Martin about digging out his basement….Tony had some concerns with his techique…no engineer check or stepping, whatever that means.

    We really thought about doing the dig, but it's solid rock so would need days or weeks of jackhammering.

  8. Stella says:

    This is a great post…. And I didn't even realize you were an Ottawa blogger! Represent!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Pretty cool site you've got here. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

    Best regards

  10. Anonymous says:

    i definitely love all your posting taste, very useful.
    don't quit and also keep penning simply because it just worth to read it,
    excited to view a lot more of your current articles, have a pleasant day 😉

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