Sunday, October 13, 2013

Investing in a Solid Foundation - the Basement

The basement isn't the sexy part of the house.  But a big chunk of our budget was invested there.  And in reality, if you don't get that right, all the fancy stuff upstairs won't be worth it over the long haul.  So we wanted to share some of the big investments.

How long will this stay so shiny???
When we bought the house, it had oil heat and a tired old steam boiler.  We learned there was gas available on the street and quickly arranged to have the line brought into the house.  Now we just need a new, gas boiler (quick tutorial for a question that comes up a lot - a 'furnace' is for a hot air system, a 'boiler' is for hot water or steam).

The next challenge - getting a new boiler down the narrow basement stairway.  Thankfully our plumber Dominic was up to the challenge!  He had the boiler delivered unassembled.....which looked like a 1000 part, 3D jigsaw puzzle.  But he was able to quickly assemble it and now we have this beautiful, shiny new boiler ready for the winter!  (maybe it's only in Maine that we get really excited about heating systems!).  This coupled with all the new insulation in the house should make a big difference on heating costs.

Root Cellar - Before

One part of the house that I haven't shared with you, is a bit unusual.  We had an honest to goodness root cellar - complete with roots - in the back of the house.

This part of the basement is dirt.....which was crumbling as we got work done in there.  And it's a lot of work -  adding plumbing for 2 baths, steam heat pipes and new electric.  Many houses of this era have dirt basements, but its important to seal the space from moisture.  And we have a couple of other issues we want to correct. The joists for the room above are overspanned and need additional support (note the support post that's sitting on a big rock!!).  This explains why the floor above is so bouncy!  So it's a big job!
The systems were added quickly, but the dirt wall began to erode and make a big mess.  We called the guys from Concrete Prescriptions to come in and stabilize it.  They quickly added a new retaining wall, which was reinforced with re-bar and concrete.  The entire space was covered with landscape fabric and then covered in a heavy plastic, to seal out moisture.

In addition, they installed new support piers, which allowed us to put a new support beam right down the center.  This stabilizes the entire floor above.

The previous owners told us the room above was always drafty.  So we had spray foam installed all around the perimeter.  This will totally seal the space, so there won't be any air infiltration.

Root Cellar - After
The result?  Okay, so it's not sexy.  But now the basement is a nice, dry space with a sturdy structure for the floor above, miles of new electrical wiring, and a shiny new furnace.  A big improvement!

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  1. It can't all be pretty, right? Great job. Can't wait to see staged! Mary in NY

  2. Definitely not the "fun" part of re-doing a house, but I'm so impressed that you undertake such a necessary, complicated, "unfun" project to make the home wonderful for the next occupants! ~K.


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