Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Basement Reno - framed!

We have the basement framed...

a "built-in" bookshelf and utility closet to get around the extruding water pipes and shut-off

an old and ineffective heating vent, now framed and sealed for action

Matt spent a long time getting the light switches to be wired and to perform to perfection (we think...???)

Now we go back to drywall...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Basement Reno - Video of Matt...

Check-out how we connected the frame of our basement reno to to the concrete floor - this method is quick and fun... similar to firing a gun....

The final result... a 3 inch nail driven into a 2x2 and the concrete floor...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Basement reno - moisture control...

Many basements seem to be cursed with constant water issues. Our basement is pretty good - the biggest issue we have is condensation, when the warm humid air from outside collides with the cool below-ground air from the basement. Fortunately, that problem exists on the other side of the basement to what we are "finishing."

As a precautionary step however, we are using some pink foam boards that are glued to the masonry walls of the basement. these boards do 3 things:

  1. they act as a barrier that stops the transfer of air of different temperatures that exist inside the basement and outside the basement walls, without this temperature control condensation would form
  2. the boards are lined with a cling-wrap type plastic on both sides, so if moisture was to seep through the concrete walls, in theory the water wouldn't penetrate through to the framing and wallboard - i.e., prevent water damage from seepage
  3. the boards also are an insulating barrier for temperature control and energy efficiency

Next step, framing the walls...

Basement Reno - We have a ceiling...

... and in theory, the most laborious part of the project is done!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Basement Reno - lights, insulation, ceiling...

Matt has been incredible to work with (great ideas, practical know-how, enthusiastic, and concerned to get the job done right - thank you Matt!) and we are making progress on the DIY basement renovation.

The 12 recessed lights are in (and no one got electrocuted).
The huge material shop is done... we got 50x 7ft 2x4's + 20 8ft 2x2's into our little Pontiac Vibe!
The ceiling insulation is in...
and about 40% of the ceiling boards are in too... this is super hard work, as you have your hands above your head, looking up as you hold the weight and drill in lots of screws!


ceiling is coming along...

Friday, June 18, 2010

storm damage from "straight line winds"

"straight line winds" just blew through South Bend & the mid-west... and looks like they are going to blow through again tonight...

Our neighbor (who has been away since November, we saw he for the first time since then just today - welcome home!) had a huge tree come down in her backyard (and ours)... some impressive damage can also be seen around our neighborhood.

[View in full-screen slideshow]

It is a good thing Matt is flying out to Indiana on Monday to help with the clean-up ;-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Basement Reno - new windows!


DIY REDI2SET glass-block windows - mortared into place.

More light compared to the old window #3 on the left!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

DIY Basement Renovation

We are about to embark on a major DIY project... what is commonly referred to in America as "finishing the basement" - or finishing half of it (the other half is the "engine-room" of the house (furnace, electric panel, sump pump), its where we wash and dry clothes, store food and supplies. We are transforming the other half (which is half the size of the layout of our house) - what was a cold, dark and dirty place into a guest room and play room.

This BIG DIY job involves replacing 3 windows, insulating and moisture sealing walls/floor/ceiling, changing electrics, installing down lights, making heating ducts more efficient upstairs, providing heat in the basement, framing the walls, wall-boarding the walls and ceiling, paint, new floor and finishings...

I'll posts some pictures as we progress... make sure you check the captions to get the context. What the pictures don't show is the tare-down stage... after the roof panels and wall sidings (pics 1-3) were removed, years of cob webs, 15 dead mice (and their poop) and hundreds and hundreds of screws and nails were in the rafters - all of which had to be removed, swept and vacuumed before the transformation could begin.

Deadline for the transformation... mid July, when we expect to host some Regent friends who will be visiting us before and after we attend a wedding celebration in near-by Michigan.

You can check out the latest pics on our Picasa Album or through the RSS Feed.

A reflection on the great American Basement...
"Every American basement is the same, They all have a clothesline that is rarely used, a trickle of water from an indeterminable source... and a funny smell... 
Basements are so monumentally useless, in fact, that you seldom go down there, so it always comes as a surprise to remember that you have one. Every dad who ever goes down in the basement pauses at some point and thinks 'Gee, we really ought to do something with all this space. We could have a cocktail cabinet and a pool table and maybe a jukebox and a jacuzzi and a couple of pinball machines...' But of course it's just one of those things that you intend to do one day, like learn Spanish or take home barbering, and never do.
Oh, occasionally, especially in starter homes, you will find that some young gung-ho dad has converted the basement into a playroom for the children, but this is alway a mistake as no child will ever play in a basement. This is because no matter how loving your parents, no matter how much you like to trsut them, there is always the thought that they will quietly lock the door at the top of the stairs and move to Florida. No, basements are deeply and inescapably scary - that's why they always feature in spooky movies, usually with a shadow of Joan Crawford carrying an axe thrown on the far wall. That may be why even dads don't go down there very often."   

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

how to stay-in-touch with infrequent bloggers...

We have become infrequent bloggers (but a new series of snapshot posts on our "around the bend" life in South Bend Indiana is coming soon...), so instead of navigating to every week-or-so to see if there is an update to our blog, add our address to an RSS feeder. If you add all the blogs you read to an RSS feeder, then you only have to check one place for all the updates.

For Google account users, I recommend Google Reader as an RSS feeder, its easy and just a click away from your Gmail account.

For more info on RSS, go to