Secret Project: Phase 1

To keep with the theme of living in chaos, we are knee deep in a secret project these days.

We are finishing the basement!

I know this doesn't come as a shock to most of you, but yet, when I tell people that we are in the middle of a HUGE construction project and are about to have a baby, they look at me like I have 4 heads.

I know it sounds crazy, and it kind of is, but kind of isn't at the same time.

Chris happened to meet a contractor who specializes in older home remodels (especially basements and bathrooms), who was able to take on our project and was well versed in "old house quirks."

We knew our house was quirky, maybe that's why we liked it so much. All the quirks add up to equal other words like unique and one of a kind, which is right up our alley.

Quirks also add up to words like "change orders" and "scope creep."  

Whoa whoa whoa, I'm getting WAY ahead of myself.

We are actually well into this basement project, and only have about a month left in the three month scope.

Why am I just getting around to spilling the beans now?  

Well, we've been kind of busy with a million OTHER projects, and plus, cooking a baby is hard work!

This is one of those better late than never things.

Plus, the first stages of the project were not that exciting.  So now, I can show you the project in fast-forward, without all the boring parts.  

You're welcome.

Don't get all excited that this is going to be a before and after post.  

It's not.

Please re-read the title.  Phase 1.

How many phases are there?

Who knows.

Could be 4, could be 17.  

That's how I keep you on your toes. 

Plus it will be determined by how much info/progress I can squish into each update.  Oh yeah, and when this baby comes out- it could really delay the updates.


Lets get back to the basement.

When we bought this house we knew we would finish out the basement someday.  It is about 600 square feet of useable space that will give our home a whole extra level of living space, who doesn't want that?

Plus, the ceilings were tall enough that even our "tall friends" (hey Sara & Doug) gave it their stamp of head-clearance approval before we signed on the dotted line.  

I don't want to confuse you, these ceilings are not tall.  They are tall-enough.  And lets face it, Chris and I are both well under the 6 foot mark, and we generally have short-ish friends, so when Sara & Doug both cleared the 7 foot ceilings, we were sold.

Actually, I'm so short that those ceilings actually give me enough clearance to do jumping jacks.

Speaking of jumping jacks, I think I may try some of those later.  I'm sure those induce labor....right?

OK, while you imagine me doing jumping jacks in my basement while willing with all my might that this baby joins the world in a timely fashion (hello baby, 40 weeks is TODAY), I'll show you some pictures of "before."  This is how our basement has looked for the last year and half.  Filled with lots of junk (I promise I'm not a hoarder, although these pictures contradict that).
This is the stairway leading from our kitchen to the basement.  Seems safe right?
Laundry room to the right of the stairs
Yes, we are the mattress depot. Let me know if you want your mattress stored here too.
See these beams and work bench?  This is holding up the WHOLE house.
The wood-fence-looking thing are sliding doors that lead to DIRT.  The cement wall is an earthquake retro-fit.  Good to know our house is not going anywhere when "the big one" hits.
The earthquake retrofit works nicely as a place to store crap.
Door into the mud room, and the white door is into the backyard.  Oh, and another beam that is holding up the whole house
Mud room, where I keep all my gardening stuff (since I'm such an amazing gardener)
I'm sure those pictures don't really give you a good picture of the basement AT ALL.  But trust me, there is no good way to photograph this space to give you a good feel of it.  It's a cluster in every sense of the word.

So, project numero uno was to clean this baby out.

This step happened a while back, and we did some dump runs, some goodwill runs and a lot of hauling stuff into the backyard (since the shed was not built yet).
Luckily we didn't have any rain in the last few months, so all of our stuff was just fine sitting outside for a few days
This would have been a good time to call hoarders on us.
Then came demo.

This had to be Chris' favorite part.

Our contractor told us that his guys could demo the basement, but if Chris wanted to do it, it would save us money.

Hello, you are talking to a coupon clipper/never-buy-anything-that-is-not-on-sale/soon-to-be-mom who's head is about to explode when hearing the cost of this renovation.  So yes, anything that saves us money will be done.

Luckily Chris was all about it.  He loves the sledge hammer and the Sawz-all.  One afternoon, he went crazy and started ripping things out and created a huge pile in the backyard.
Where is the shed going to go with all of this junk in the way?
His brother joined him for a second day of demo and all of a sudden this space was looking like it had a lot of possibilities.
All these beams are coming down to make one large family room.  This part, is left up to the professionals, considering they hold the whole house up.
See the short wall of cinder blocks?  That will be the back of the room.  We are walling off the dirt.
The freezer (holding the last bits of Marty the cow) is moving out into the shed soon.
Looking into the laundry room
The walls came down, but we will build new ones to create a mud room inside the back door.
Yes, that is dirt, covered by what looks to be large trash bags.  And yes, that is a plant growing on the left.  I am considering it our love fern.  I asked Chris if I could transplant it to the front yard.  Guess what he said....
So, that was phase one.  Cleaning and demo.  So glamorous.

That was the most intense step for us, because that is the step that WE did.

Yes, that is the extent of the DIY on this project. You are not going to get to see any comical photos of me of with my giant belly, holding up the house while Chris cuts out those beams (yes, my super-human pregnancy strength makes me a perfect house-holder), although that would have been funny (alas, hind-sight is 20/20).

With the baby coming, the puppy running circles around us, and the need for actual house-jacking-up- skills, we bowed out of phases 2-15.

Coming up soon, phase 2: Gettin' all Jacked up.