Basement Renovation – the reasoning

1st let me say I’m sorry for the delay in posting, as I was in Atlanta for the past week, looking for some new treasures to offer in our retail store. This is the first post on the basement – it is approached just like the rest of the house, structure first. I learned a long time ago that adding the pretty stuff before the underlying elements are corrected only adds to the cost of the project.  So let’s highlight the problems of why we need to address the basement structure.

Bang you head!

Yep, like many basements built in the 1930’s, the basement stairs seem to be an afterthought. Steep angles, tall rises and narrow treads are used to try and gain headroom.

In this particular stair they still couldn’t quite make the headroom – so just hack out a floor joist – a double joist at that.

This is a view looking up the stairs at the back door. You can see at the top of this photo that the floor joist has been removed. It was done years ago – and is directly below my fancy new bath renovation previously posted. It’s amazing the floor remained flat. We’ll beef this up later.

Here’s a quick shot of some of the ‘before’ plumbing of the renovated bath. The home inspector said this was just ‘fine’. Yikes!

Here’s what you see when you walk down the stairs. In this photo I have replaced some of the ‘Fine’ plumbing. The cast iron pass through on the wall will be removed later – as will the sump pump that you could fall in at the bottom of the stairs.

Here’s the other side of the same room – there is another room to the right of this wall.

Now comes the reasoning part.

This is the typical entrance to these kinds of old houses. I know, as my current house was built in 1927 and has the exact same layout. You enter through the back door onto a landing that allows you to go straight down the stairs through a door to the basement, or turn right and go up three stairs to the kitchen. Simple and effective – except for that basement headroom issue.

So here you can see some of my freestylin’ handiwork. I patched up that plaster wall, removed the wallpaper and put up a new drywall ceiling – sweet! All I need is a little paint and I’m good to…er, well – I was just not feeling the right vibe. I wanted something a little more welcoming when you entered the house from the back door – which we would do nearly 100% of the time.

So let’s get out the hammer and trash cans and make a mess! I just can’t help myself.

So a few minutes later all my wallpaper removal and patching efforts bites the plaster dust. I warned you I was obsessive.

So at this point I had made up my mind that I was adding an entrance – sort of a mudroom. Not big, but big enough to allow me to remove the landing at the back door to allow three more feet of stair run to the basement to get some needed headroom. Of course I have no drawings, no plan – that would be cheating, wouldn’t you say? Oh, just rip it out now and worry about the plan later – that’s my motto.

Of course, this makes another mess. The walls are filled with blown-in insulation too.

So this will be the opening I’ll create in the exterior wall for the new mudroom entrance.

Looks like I have some doodling to do this evening.


12 thoughts on “Basement Renovation – the reasoning

    • Exactly! What would we do with all that planning? I’d rather spend my time tearing stuff up. This is why my wife stays away – she never knows what I’ll destroy next.

    • Well, I’m a boy – so it’s not that big a deal for me. It gets the best of me sometimes, so out comes the shop vac. But my wife – the first week I started renovating she was bringing in towels and candles. So I told her to hold off on the decor a little while – that was 3 years ago. And she’s still with me – miracles never cease.

  1. I like your style! Sometimes you just gotta tear it up when the urge strikes and deal with it! Honestly it’s how much of what we did in the beginning got done. It forces you to DO IT and not just “think about it”.

    • I tend to think of you as “Strike Force Stacey” in reading your blogs. Yep, if you’re gonna do it – just go for it. I am planning another room as we speak. I promised my wife it’s the last room I’m adding – promise.

  2. Our house was built in 1928 and has the exact same entrance layout! Too funny! Do you have a house floor plan somewhere you posted? I have to get around to posting ours…

    How much headroom do you have in your basement though? Ours is way too low to finish it off.

    • Hi Meghan! Yep, then you know the challenges of living in a plaster lathe house. I haven’t posted a floor plan, but I’ll get around to that – come to think of it – I don’t have a detailed floor plan for reference, but that would be handy. The basement was deeper than the 1920’s house I live in now. 7′ 2″ – so a standard door will work down there.

  3. Do you have an update on the entrance to your basement/kitchen? I have the same entrance and would like to see how yours turned out? Thank you

    • Thanks again for the reply. I made a more detailed response on the mudroom post you replied to. I will say that if you can handle the extra expense and mess of making an exterior entry room, it is worth it in my opinion. This the last home I will live in, so I’m doing it the way I want. Return on investment is not a priority to me.

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