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Thursday, December 26, 2013


One of my goals for 2013 was to finish redoing my basement. It was a lot of work through the year, but it's finally coming together. I did a lot of work, and I contracted out some of the harder more technical aspects. Aside from the basement, there were other projects around the house I worked on.
The first thing I needed to do was remove the existing sheetrock. When I pulled off the sheetrock under the fire place, I found an ash trap down there that I didn't know existed. Long ago someone sealed off the ash drop from the fire place. When I opened it up, I found all sorts of weird trash that was forgotten for about 20 years.
After that I had to clean off the wall with acid before filling in a couple holes with waterproof concrete.

After that I decided to take on the rim joists. I could tell when I was down there that the external wall of the house was separated from the top of the basement wall. There was tons of light coming through as well as dirt and insects. So I cleaned out the old tar paper that was in there, sprayed the gaps with Great Stuff spray foam, cut a piece of styrofoam to fit in the rim joist and sealed that in with more spray foam. It was quite the time consuming processes.
While cleaning out the rim joists, I found an old package of Gillette Razor blades. It was a pretty cool find and the box was embossed with King Gillette's face. Each blade is individually wrapped and just as sharp as the day they were bought. I put the box on my mantle.
Using the spray foam was quite the messy process. I wore clothes I was planning to throw away and a mask to protect my face, but still ended up with some of the foam in my beard.
After that I decided to return to the walls and give them two coats of waterproof paint. Since I was doing this after a lot of the studs were in place I wasn't able to get the complete coverage I wanted, but I think it helped a lot in some problem areas that had a tendency to leak a little before. I listened to a lot of podcasts while I worked my way around the room. I didn't get complete coverage to the top, but I tried getting to the places that seemed most prone to failure.
I also had to change about half of the wiring in the house to avoid junction boxes being behind walls. This is one of the dumbest use of junction boxes that I found in the process.
The day before contractors were supposed to come and work on the walls, an old pipe started leaking water onto the floor. Of course. It had been dry for years until then. So I got some JB Weld to stop up the hole.
I had a contractor come in to put up the walls and ceiling. The first job was to take out all the trash I had been making.
The contractors had the sheetrock delivered by a pretty awesome truck mounted crane, then loaded to the basement.
They also framed out some of the wall that was missing studs, another project I didn't feel qualified for.
Just having walls up, it looked so much better.
Then they came into texture the walls and paint them.
At the same time I was having the walls put up, I had another contractor replace the windows down there. I didn't get a picture of the before and after of that.
After the walls were in place, I went to work on the support columns. I sanded them down and got rid of the existing dirt and splinters, then stained them with lynseed oil. They came out looking great.
Then I wanted to take on the stairs leading to the basement. Someone had spilled a coke or something on them years ago and it had eaten away at the top coating and turned them gray. I sanded them down, stained them, then painted the kick steps.
After the stairs, it was time to finish the floor. I had a contractor come over to look at it. We decided laminate wood planks would work the best for the space, but first I had work to do to make the floor more level overall. I rented an angle grinder and got a concrete grinding attachment and ground away. It made tons of dust. Then I had to get some self leveling concrete and fill a sunken part that used to be a pour off for the hot water heater.
Now it was time for the floor to be installed. I contracted this project as well because I knew professionals would be able to do it quickly and correctly. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.
I think it looks pretty good now. It isn't done yet. I still need to get doors for the closets and install moulding around the walls. I think with a few rental tools I should be able to do this fairly easily.
As well as the basement, I was doing other things around the house. I replaced the fan in living room. What should be a simple job became more complicated when I took down the old fan and discovered it was only being held up by two expansion screws in the plaster. Several trips to the attic later, I installed a proper fan bar. It was a filthy job.
I also setup a home office with fixtures I bought from IKEA. It's a great place to watch the snow while working. Guess I don't get snow days anymore though...
I filled in the granite pavers with gravel which makes them look much cleaner, is easier to maintain and less grass sneaks in between the cracks.
While Mallory was visiting she helped with a few projects as well. She pulled up the old laminate tiles that were in the front entryway and looking dirty to find great hardwood. With a little sanding in staining, the entryway looks a lot better. She also transplanted some of the bulbs from one side of my house to the other to make a complete front. In a year or so they'll be just as thick.

The most impressive job that Mallory did was on the hutch doors. Since I moved in the doors have been in the garage waiting for someone to take care of them, but it was never top on my list. Mallory dug them out and took care of them. She stripped off the old paint, sanded them down, and painted them. In this photo, one still needed a glass pane replaced it hadn't been painted yet.

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