- February 17th, 2012
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As you might expect, work has been proceeding apace on the basement. I have been documenting that every day they do more work with pictures posted up to Google+. If you are not currently using Google+ or aren’t in my circles there, you won’t see them. If you are, here is a quick link to the albums page:
I created a new album (Day1, Day2, etc) for each day’s worth of pictures. Obviously, the days didn’t all happen in a row. Some days nothing except delivery of new materials, or an inspection of current work to meet code, or what have you.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the quality of work and the speed things are getting done. Communication from the contractor has been good, and responses to questions and concerns are generally handled the same day or at worst, the next day. All the subcontractors have been very professional, courteous to us if we’re home, and even ok with the dogs being upstairs and occasionally barking. Again, I’m hesitating to give any final recommendations until we see the final product, but my current sense is that I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending these guys to anyone, or calling on them again in the future to help us with additional work.
I will express one thing in particular, since it was so notable in all this progress. As I mentioned in a previous post, the owners of this property before us really did a number on the house when they “finished” the basement. As noted before, the electrical system in particular was really just not handled in a safe way. All of the downstairs circuits were simply tied back up into existing junction boxes upstairs. The net effect of this was two-fold. First, we would very commonly overload a circuit with it having load both downstairs and upstairs. Fuses popped all the time. Further, when they did the tie-ins to the junction boxes upstairs, they just didn’t do it right. Very often, we’d be left with an upstairs wall plate that was loose or just flat out not working. So the end result is that when we “fixed” the basement, we also wanted them to go to all the upstairs boxes that had been tied into, and fix them as well. In the end, we asked them to just do a full “audit” of all the electrical in the house. They expanded the panel in the garage. If we ever want to put more capacity in the house we can. This was done so that we could “properly” run a sub-panel downstairs. Every wall socket and switch on the house is now replaced with new plates. All junction boxes have been checked for safety.
Here’s the scary part… and it only confirms the fears I had about how it was improperly done the first time around… when they went through and checked them, three of the junction boxes had to be pulled out and replaced because they were charred on the inside. Right. Burn marks from sparks or who knows what. We really are fortunate the whole place didn’t just burn right down to the ground along the way.
So when I got home that day after all this work was done, I walked around the whole house, checking outlets, flipping switches, etc. I really didn’t understand fully just how much all that had been weighing on me over time. To have everything finally be safe? Worth every single penny. I’m fact, I’m not sure I can even place a value on that. I truly felt (and still do) like a burden had been lifted, and relieved.
What’s next? Well, as the pictures show, they are up to the point now where mud/tape on the drywall is done and drying. They will come in I believe on Saturday to texture. Trim package and tile arrives on Monday. I’m not sure if they will start in with the trim and tile work on Monday or wait until Tuesday. I think they are also going to try and get the fish tank moved downstairs then as well, since some of the trim work depends on it being in place already. I also think we slightly over-estimated on the weight of the tank. Troy had originally told me it was about 700 lbs. empty. Based on some online calculators for it (not like I can just weight it)… it is probably more like 500, or slightly less even. In any case, they will get a few of their guys to come in one of those days and lug that thing downstairs. I’m grateful I don’t have to do that myself for certain.
What remains? Trim and tile. Cabinets, doors, shelving installation. Full cleanup, sweep and vacuum to prepare for painting. Paint. Door and bathroom hardware install. Final HVAC, electrical and plumbing. Carpet install. Final inspections. Final walk through and punch list. Done. I do believe we’re still on target for a completion date in the first week of March. It has definitely been exciting to come home from work every day, walk downstairs and see the incremental progress. Quite an adventure, to be sure. I’m anxious for this all to be done. We have this vision of the completed product. We will have a lot of work after that in turning it back into a living space. There may be a bit of lag in replacing some of the furniture, of course. We got rid of a few things that insurance isn’t covering (for example, the hated futon), which we will need to replace once money permits.
Though we do have notions of where things like desks and office stuff is going to go, I suspect that once we actually get stuff downstairs and have the ability to move things around in the space, we’re going to end up with a different configuration. Its very difficult, even with the walls up now, to imagine how things will work out once the space is occupied again with furnishings, bookshelves, paintings and such. But that part, I think, will be fun. I do expect that there will also be some additional stuff we decided to throw out at that point. When we were lugging everything out of the basement to get it out of the way, we didn’t really pay that much attention to whether or not we really wanted to save all of that still. Stuff that has been sitting in boxes for 15 years under the stairs? Maybe its time to look at it more closely and see if it really should remain. Having to carry it all back downstairs again shouldn’t happen until that evaluation has taken place. As I said, though, I think we’re both looking forward to that part.
And of course, the kids will have a lot more space to play again. I think that has been the hardest adjustment to this period of time … where everything is essentially cramped into “half a house”. We’re climbing over each other constantly. There is NO space that isn’t also occupied with the kid’s toys and books, etc. You can clean that up every day, and in 2 hours they will return it to the state they prefer the next day. Its almost not worth even trying to clean up after them. I’m looking forward to having proverbial elbow room again.
Finally, somewhere along the process of the aforementioned work, I will also be getting the remainder of the wiring closet work completed. Both the wall plates and the termination point in the wiring closet need to be punched down and finished off. Though I can already feel the cramping in my hands just thinking about doing that, I do like getting all that done and everything linked in properly. I’m quite certain I will be photo-documenting that effort once I get to it as well, to satisfy the geekiness of all that.
More to come as this progresses…