Basement renovation brainstorming

The basement renovation has begun.

And by “begun the renovation” I mean that we’ve measured the space and started to toss around ideas for roughly how we could arrange the space. The next step is winning the lottery, knocking off a bank or selling our on-the-way firstborn to be able to afford taking step 2, known as “actually renovating the basement.”

Once again, we’ve benefitted huge from having Rachel’s brother in town, who is an architect when he’s not demolishing concrete with his bare hands a sledgehammer.

One night while I was working upstairs last week, he measured the whole basement and started entering the dimensions into his drafting program on his computer. Now he can fly us through a 3D model of the space, as well as print out scratch copies of the basement so we can draw up rough sketches like the one above — which are a pretty good start.

Because we could pay at least half of our mortgage each month by renting out even a decently-finished basement, we’re trying to figure out some way to make this project happen before the baby gets here, or at least sometime in 2012. Of course, I’m planning on doing all I can myself, but June (and the end of working nonstop in all spare hours) is fast approaching. Hence the need to knock off the bank or win the lottery.

We’re still figuring out the broad strokes of what will go where, though it’s guaranteed to be complicated and expensive based on these and many other facts:

  • There’s only one vent stack and drain in the basement, right where the current toilet is — also where the toilet is in the sketch above. So a new kitchen sink, shower and laundry machine will probably need to be routed through the concrete floor to reach it, with the vent possibly going out the front wall.
  • There’s one radiator in the basement, and it doesn’t work.
  • The boiler is old and takes up too much space. That’s where the “T” is in the top left of the plan here. That area could be smaller if we replace it with a newer one, which we don’t have the money to do right now. So we’re planning to design around it with the intent to make that wall straight once we get a new boiler that takes up less space and sits against the party wall.
  • The electrical box is by the back door next to the bathroom, and away from the area we’re carving out for us at the bottom of the stairs. Which means the circuits tripping from the hair dryer and heater would be fun for our tenant.
  • Tons of pipes run below the ceiling joists, rather than between them. Mucho plumber expense on this and about 50 other things.
  • We have A/C in the basement, but there’s just one vent and it’s in the spot that would be the new kitchen.

There are plenty of other complicating factors, and probably a list a mile long of things we don’t know yet and won’t until we dive into it. Regardless of when we do the renovation, we are going to demolish everything existing in the basement as soon as we can.


But in keeping with the cascading lists of “can’t do this until I do that” that keep me AND my brain working overtime, I can’t demolish the basement until I can move all of our stuff out of the basement and into the attic. And I can’t move it there until I re-insulate the attic and put down flooring. And I can’t do that until I get rid of the old insulation. And I can’t do that until I finish with the nursery.


Speaking of, the nursery feels like it’s been stuck on 90% for week or so now, as I’ve just spent my time in there tediously stripping all the trim down with the heat gun, Peel Away, various scraping tools and sandpaper. But that and the closet are the only things left. Both could be done as soon as this weekend.

The Dremel I finally pulled the trigger on last night will help me out big time. Sweet.

Nursery closet scraped 50%

Sill meets side trimNursery window bottom casing cleanCloset trim detail

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