Gonna rise up. Find my direction magnetically.

The Basement Begins

The Basement

Wow! First post in a while. This post is to catch up to where we are at today with the basement project. We have talked about finishing the basement for years but there were two major things stopping us: a plumbing issue that caused the drain in the basement floor to backup and flood a couple of times a year; and an open crawl space that put a lot of humidity and bad odors into the rest of the basement. The cost and effort required to get these two issues resolved just seemed like too much until this past Fall when I finally decided to just do it. A few of the reasons:

  • The girls are now 11 and 8 and having friends over for sleepovers, hanging out, etc. is becoming more of an issue. This will give them a great place to go (and for Julie and I not to hear/deal with them).
  • I want us to have ‘the cool house’ for the girls to hang out at as Maddie enters middle school. I want her friends to want to be over at our place… basically because I don’t want to have to worry about her.
  • It’s been a few years since I have taken on an ambitious project and I am ready to see if I still have what it takes.
  • Seeing some good friends of ours finish their basement (thanks Becky!).


The source of the issue was that we had a disposal, dishwasher, and clothes washer emptying into a 2″ cast iron drain pipe buried in our basement floor. Over the years we have had 4-5 different plumbers come out and clear out the line the best they could and give us a wide range of advice on how to permanently fix the problem. None of it seemed very wise and I was disappointed with the lack of creativity and thoughtfulness most of the plumbers put into the discussion.

All of this changed when Stanley came into our lives. I got the referral from a friend and when this old-time Polish plumber showed up, I knew we could work something out. We spent a good 30 min. discussing the issue and possible solutions and I just clicked with him. When I asked for an estimate, he started measuring things with this feet (to get the length of pipe we would need) and writing it out in a small notepad. He came back with a price a thousand bucks lower than any other estimate and I liked his plan better. We had a deal.

You can see from these before/after pictures that it took a lot of effort to dig up the old floor, replace that damn 2″ pipe and lay down some PVC, but in the end… it looks awesome and we were able to get rid of the old utility sink as well. After some new cabinets for the wall, new sink, and painting the floor, the old laundry room doesn’t look too shabby. Phase 1 completed (this was done around the first week of Dec.)

Alternative angle

The pipe!!

Crawl Space Encapsulation

The second part of preparing for the basement to be finished was getting the crawl space taken care of. I looked at a lot of different options (some great websites out there and youtube videos for what the best way is to encapsulate) and ended up going with Permaseal. The system calls for laying down a 20 mil sheet on top of the gravel base in our crawl and sealing it up. The idea is that no air will get in/out of the barrier once it is installed. Getting this done, along with installing a dehumidifier should take care of the remaining ‘major issues’ with the basement. It should also cut down on the mice and other small creatures that lurk in the crawl space. It looks great and the guys that installed it were great. I ended up getting a spare role of tape and some extra sheeting before they left. This was done the week of Christmas.

Protip: This is a great tip for any project when you have people do work for you. Always ask for scrapes or throw away pieces… extra bundle of shingles when getting the roof redone, extra piece or two of siding when that is being replaced, etc. Having this on hand has come in handy on several occasions when small repairs are needed.

The Plan

So that brings us up to today. My two week work vacation begins on Sat. and I plan on spending the entire time working on the basement. Home Depot is dropping off 34 sheets of drywall, 24 2x4s, 50 2x2s, sheets of insulating foam board, and lots of other materials tomorrow afternoon. I plan on posting some start/end pics from my work days to show the progress. Foam board and framing will be Sat. – Tues. Craig, my electrician friend, is helping out and will be coming by Wed. or Thurs. to spend the day wiring it all up with me. Drywall will go up next weekend and then the real fun part of taping and mudding can begin. If things go as planned, all that will remain when I go back to work on Jan. 25th will be to get the carpet installed…. and who knows… maybe we can get that ordered and done on short order.

My father will be coming out during week 2 which should be sanding and painting for the most part. I am excited and anxious. I haven’t taken on a mega-build project like this on my own and I am not sure what I am going to run into…. I have laid out a pretty aggressive plan, but I think I can pull it off. Should be fun to try at least. Cheers!

Starting pictures:

1 Comment

  1. Mike

    Excellent narrative and before / after pictures. Getting the contractor work done first has cleared the decks. I am sure Maddie and Brooke will be involved in this learning experience. See you on the 16th.

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