Instead of spending the last couple of years renovating, I've been off getting married, getting fat, and doing many things other than renovating. But now it's time to get back to work. In the past few months the Queen and I have been busy finishing up the crown molding upstairs, redoing the bedroom in a Restoration Hardware style, and have started to finish the basement. The first two items will be covered in later posts, but for this post I'll focus on the basement. Or from now on, I'll call it the pit of despair, or just the pit. The pit has been so horrendously scary for the past couple of years we've been afraid to do anything with it. Check it out...
Scary, eh? And this is after I spent a long time cleaning it and selling a ton of crap on craigslist. After making it so I can actually see the floor I have motivation to now cover it with plushy carpet and make it
my mancave a non-gender specific den. I have so much motivation that I told my father about it and ask him to come in from Michigan in a few weeks to help renovate it. Oh yeah, it's on like Donkey Kong...
In normal spaces renovation is pretty straight forward as there are usually flat floors and ceiling free of obstructions, and you are usually nailing into all wooden surfaces. Not in a basement. My basement has a crusty old uneven floor, the height is about 6 and a 1/2 feet to the joist, and the edges of the rooms are an obstacle course of ducts, plumbing and other goodies. To get ready for this I've started drilling holes through the joist to re-route the electrical and plumbing, and to draw the place up using Google sketch-up. It is going to be a framing nightmare, but once I figure out the floor plan I'm hoping I can do up the place pretty nice.
Since I bought the house in 2006 and did a quality renovation, there is zero chance I will get back all the money I put into it. I've come to accept this. That said, the basement renovation plan is to make a space that is usable as a second entertaining space for a very low budget. I'm hoping to to it for under $4,000. This means there will be sacrifices.
- 1. We aren't digging out the basement. With a ceiling height of about 6 and a 1/2 feet, there isn't much height. To dig out the basement would cost on the order of $30'ish bucks a square foot. There is no way I'll make this money back. To make the space not feel claustraphobic I'll be using recessed lights and trying to keep as much headroom as possible.
2. While we only half 1 and 1/2 baths, we aren't putting in a new bathroom in the basement. This would require smashing through the floor, and then without raising the ceiling height we probably couldn't put in a shower. While it would be great to have another bathroom I just don't think it's worth the expense.
3. The floor is old uneven cement, and it's going to stay that way. My plan is to carpet over the old concrete. To rip out the concrete, or to attempt leveling it would be some big bucks.
4. I will only finish the front 20 to 25 feet of the basement. The total basement depth is 45 feet. The back area house a nice storage area and the laundry area. While it would be nice to have a finished laundry area, it just isn't worth the money. Also, I really like having some unfinished space in the basement for storage.
5. I will try to work with my existing HVAC, water heater, and water meter locations. To move my main mechanicals will cost me thousands, and while the constrain the space more than I'd like, I think if I optimized thing I'd only gain a few extra square feet of useful area. My plan is to be creative using lots of storage in hidden/unusable corners and crannies.
Next post I'll talk a bit more about the design and some of the design trades I'm thinking about such as whether to make this a future bedroom with it's own door, adding a closet vs. a mini bar area, and building a custom entertainment center with built-in book shelves.