As far as individual projects that make up an overall rehab go, basement work isn't really too exciting. That is, unless you're 1, a degreed structural engineer and kinda dig seeing how everything below grade is built and everything above grade supported, and/or 2, somebody who geeks out over history and enjoys the archeological aspect of seeing, maybe under many layers, giant chunks of a structure that are largely original.
The basement demo has been mostly enjoyable. The work is nasty, and dusty, and every day I worked I sweated through my shirt and jeans multiple times, but I can sorta feel the house getting lighter and enjoying getting some fresh air in her walls, as corny as it may sound.
Unfortunately, for now, I'm only about 60% done, and that's just the first pass -- getting the big, bulky stuff down and into a dumpster. The second pass will be fine-tuning things, like cleaning up wiring, pulling nails, a thorough vacuuming, etc. After that I can assess what needs to be done to make things right, and so far...the list isn't short. There are structural issues, water/moisture issues, window issues, and electrical issues.
Why did I start with the basement? The short answer is that the basement, while having been "finished" and tolerable in terms of appearance, was disgusting. Between the dogs that were kept down there and the animals that'd lived - and died - in the ceiling, the funk was horrible. That would be enough of a reason to demo the space immediately, but additionally, by not wanting to use the basement in its current condition, the main floor of the house looks like 10 pounds of stuff in a 5 pound bag. I need that basement space, but it's gotta be cleaned up first.
The basement had been finished in plaster originally, but the most modern iteration made use of metal framing, drywall, and in some areas, suspended ceilings. Behind the drywall was insulation and plastic. In theory, somebody did a decent job in terms of the work; I still say it's a dumb idea to finish a stone foundation basement.
There are 5 or so individual rooms or spaces in the basement, and it was clear that dogs had been kept in some number of them. Like, forced, against their will, to live in them.
If you know anything about dogs who get neglected, you know that like kids, they'll act out and do all sortsa ignorant stuff out of anger and/or a lack of attention. The carpet covering the basement stairs? It was like a giant dog pee sponge, and the yellow/orange stains speckling the lower couple feet of all the basement drywall...you can ballpark what that was.
I've been told by neighbors that the previous owners were next level tree-huggers/animal fanatics, but to unhealthy extents. They apparently threw food out on the front steps to feed possums, refused to trim trees which caused branches to get unwieldy and fall on fences, houses, the sidewalk, etc., and just sort of didn't do a whole lot of very basic maintenance.
And of course, this led to a mouse infestation. So far, I've removed 9 dead mice from the ceiling, and I could probably measure the mouse poop that's rained down in pounds.
Other than the occasional unwelcome surprise in the ceiling, the demo has gone well, so far. I ran into a little plaster which slowed me down some, and metal framing sucks to deal with because unlike wood, which can be banged apart or quickly cut through, metal framing has to painstakingly be deconstructed by removing all the tiny little screws holding it all together. Same with the beadboard walls; tongue and groove stuff is slow demo, pulling 1 skinny board off at a time.
So far I've managed to successfully fight off the urge to save anything I've torn down. However, I did uncover what I think is some original tongue and groove pine that was used to panel a wall; that's probably going to get removed and held on to. Same with the lath under the plaster, I'll find something to do with it down the road.
Without question, the worst part of the basement demo has been the logistics of getting stuff to the dumpster. If the property is 125' deep, I'm guessing each trip to the dumpster - carrying something halfway heavy - covers every bit of 150', which is half of a football field.
I've still got the front room to deal with, which has an elevated plywood floor, and the furnace room, but otherwise...moving right along. I'll get another dumpster out here in a couple weeks to finish the project...once my body recovers from the 5 days of demo and hauling I just wrapped up.
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