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Old 12-01-2009, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

I've been lurking these forums for a while, satisfying my desire to renovate my basement by viewing everyone else's progress...but now it's time to actually start my own build thread. A little background - my wife and I purchased our first house in May of this year. It was built in 1932, has 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, and has a basement that was approximately 25% "finished" when we moved in. Since the weather is becoming less conducive to working on things outside, we finally got going on our basement project a few weeks ago.

I realize this initial post is rather vague, but I will add more detail as I post pics and sketchups (when everything will make more sense), which should happen once I get home and get things photobucketed.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:05 PM
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doublfelix,

Looking forward to seeing your photos and plans! Good to see another Iowan on here.
I assume you are near I80, perhaps eastern Iowa? I'm an Illinois transplant (originally from Grundy County, IA)

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Old 12-01-2009, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Cuzed2 - You guessed right, we are about a mile off of I-80 in Coralville, so just a couple of hours west of chicagoland.

So here is the most basic look at our plan, while our overall basement plans eventually include another bedroom and bathroom, our current scope simply entails redoing the part of the basement that was poorly finished (labeled media room), thus turning it into a room to house our not yet acquired equipment (finishing the room is a condition for being able to buy new television and other accessories).



The house being old and all, it is going to be quite fun with the not quite 7' ceilings. Luckily we don't have too many friends that are super tall, so I'm sure a final ceiling height in the vicinity of 6'9" - 6'10" should be tolerable.

In anticipation of questions about the architectural features, I will tell you now to wait for pictures. It will be well worth it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 10:10 AM
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Yep that would have been my next question:
What are the architectural features on the top wall? I'll stay tuned for the photo

PS;
Most of my basement height height is 7.5'
However: i do have one room that is under 7', actually it is 80".

You can make this work - however the 2nd row options could be a challenge

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Old 12-02-2009, 10:44 AM
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Welcome to the mess!

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublfelix View Post

So here is the most basic look at our plan, while our overall basement plans eventually include another bedroom and bathroom, our current scope simply entails redoing the part of the basement that was poorly finished (labeled media room), thus turning it into a room to house our not yet acquired equipment (finishing the room is a condition for being able to buy new television and other accessories).

Without benefit of pictures, and even recognizing that you live in the tropical southern climate of Iowa, my first comment is make sure you start with a warm & dry base before you invest time & money on top of it - especially in an old house. Moisture control & insulation is the cake - the finish & AV stuff is the icing on the cake!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post

I'm an Illinois transplant (originally from Grundy County, IA)

That 'splains a lot, Craig!

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Old 12-02-2009, 11:00 AM
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Well were are the pictures of the mysterious architectural features???? The suspense is killing me. The wait HAD better be worth it!

Good luck and welcome to the insanity!

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Old 12-02-2009, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanesian View Post

That 'splains a lot, Craig!

Yikes !!

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Old 12-02-2009, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
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First off, apologies for the picture delays. End of semester projects are working me over at the moment, and it ended up taking longer than expected to get the first coat of drylok onto the foundation walls this evening. Hopefully the delay has served to build up even more suspense about the architectural surprises. Here goes:
The house

The basement before we moved in


Check out that carpeted bar!




Although the pictures may not convey it well, it was really dark down there, the ceiling had some issues (visible in photos) and we really didn't dig the wood paneling. We also had reason to suspect that some things were probably missing behind the paneling (minor things like framing and insulation).
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
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The previous owners said in the disclosure documents that there was some seepage in part of the basement, and during a particularly hard rainstorm, I decided to start demo to find out just how much seepage there actually was. Luckily for us, it seemed they were getting seepage by not cleaning the gutters, which was causing water to pour off the roof and onto the driveway, pooling against the foundation. A trip up on the ladder and a bunch of leaf muck removal solved the problem.

Now unfortunately I can't seem to find a photo of the smaller feature before demolition, but this at least shows what it looked like.

Notice the nice little wood paneling box that used to cover the old sewer/septic connection (?). Very cute.

Now check out this sweet built in bookshelf thing. It's really big, especially considering it really only seemed to have a magazine rack on two sides of it. Kind of makes it seem like something is hiding underneath, right?


Throw out some guesses for what you think is in there, and tomorrow all shall be revealed!
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:06 PM
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doublfelix,

Great house. I'm a U of Iowa grad so I can just about picture where you're at.

I'm also a new homeowner, working on a house of that era, so I know where you're coming from in terms of ceiling height. I don't see it as a terrible limitation, but I've always lived in older houses, so 7' just seems normal to me.

I'll be curious to see your progress and what you're plans are. BTW, I hope you're keeping that bar! Seriously, that would be a big plus in my book.
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:21 AM
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doublfelix,

I like this house style - looks to be very well kept for a home of this age.

Although; I have to ask one question:
What's with that "bubble feature" in the roofing above your front porch...?

As for what's hiding in the wall >> Ill take a guess:
I hope it's note the fuse panel or breaker box!

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Old 12-03-2009, 09:52 AM
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Im going to say the main water shut off is hiding behind there. Or a huge hole in the foundation.

Always Up for a Good Zombie Flick
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Old 12-03-2009, 09:54 AM
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Sump pump?

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Old 12-03-2009, 09:56 AM
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Cute, kind of reminds me of my first home. Typical Iowa house.

Looks like a lot of panelling to contend with. Keep us posted

I doubt it's a sump though as they usually did not put them in, in that era of house. I'm guessing the remnants of the old coal fired furnace. Is there a coal shute still on the side of the house?
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Old 12-03-2009, 09:57 AM
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His wife's remains?

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Old 12-03-2009, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanesian View Post



His wife's remains?

Have you been watching Monster House or something?
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Old 12-04-2009, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
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We too wondered for a while if there was a body beneath it. I think Mr. Goodcat was closest, in that it might have been for some sort of old furnace set up...but no other clues like a coal chute to really confirm it. Anyway, here's what things looked like.
At this point we're still not sure

Sure looks like a giant block of concrete

Yes indeed, it's a 2'x2' block of concrete!

And here is my wife with the block of concrete, the miniature Hanes woodpile (different kind of wood), and a look of incredulity
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Old 12-04-2009, 07:50 AM
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Huh? I'm stumped. It looks like a nice space though. Got a floor plan for us to evaluate yet?
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Old 12-04-2009, 08:53 AM
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Quick, hand the wife a sledgehammer and have her get to work!

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Old 12-04-2009, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post

doublfelix,

I like this house style - looks to be very well kept for a home of this age.

Although; I have to ask one question:
What's with that "bubble feature" in the roofing above your front porch...?

Apparently that feature is called an eyebrow. We were initially worried that it was a problem with the roof, but there is actually siding in there, and our home inspector seemed to have seen this sort of thing before on homes of this vintage.
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Goodcat View Post

Huh? I'm stumped. It looks like a nice space though. Got a floor plan for us to evaluate yet?

The floorplan is still in flux, partly because I figured I would get some input from the forum members. The plan is to make this a general purpose area, for a number of reasons. When finished, this room will house the primary television for the house, allowing us to get our current setup (very impressive, wait for pics!) out of the living room, and free up some space there. I am guessing our usage will be something like 40% television, 30% movies, 30% gaming. We expect to be in the house for 3-4 years (however long it takes to finish my PhD), and once I finish school the chances of finding a job and staying in the area are quite slim. The multipurpose area seems like it will have a broader appeal than a dedicated theater space for resale.

Based on expected usage, low ceiling height, and WAF, this is the tentative equipment plan:
Display - Panasonic S-series plasma (biggest size that we can afford when the space is ready for it)
Receiver - something on par with Onkyo 607, Denon 1909, etc. only need 5.1, $300-500 range, but must have HDMI switching. Right now we have no HDMI equipment, but expect to have cable box, XBOX, PS3 or BD player, and potentially HTPC down the line.
Speakers-have a crappy set of 5.0 speakers now, will upgrade as money allows. Might look at in-wall/ceiling rears, or will be putting terminals for the rears in the wall (hate exposed wiring).

I will try to get some sketchups posted this weekend with potential layouts.
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Old 12-04-2009, 11:00 AM
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About that concrete block cast into your foundation??

Really Odd.

I wonder if they started excavating for the basement and decided to beef up that portion? It is possible that it goes quite deep and was a remedy for some concerns they found while excavating?

I say that because I have heard (back in the day) builders/excavators finding underground wells, streams and other odd things >> then implementing some interesting work-arounds...?

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Old 12-04-2009, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, we're not really sure what the purpose of the concrete is. It is quite solid though, (poured, unlike the foundation walls) and the few people we've talked to about it were of the opinion it probably wasn't worth messing around with. I'm inclined to agree, since we are likely to frame that wall 8-12" offset from the foundation wall to avoid the sewer hookup, we'll only end up having a one foot protrusion or so by the concrete. We're still trying to come up with a creative way to hide it...
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Old 12-05-2009, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyway, slowly inching towards our current state. The previous pictures were from Labor Day weekend, when my brother in law was visiting. In addition to demoing a bunch of paneling and the built ins, we took down all of the ceiling tiles. That was a dusty and gross endeavor.

Then about a month later, my brother came to visit. We had him start on some more paneling.


He didn't get very far. Needless to say, we won't be hiring him again.
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:39 AM
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Maybe during the initial construction of the home they changed what type of home was being built. Looks like some type of footer. There would not really need to be something that big or substantial unless there was going to be some (a lot) of weight on it. Interesting none the less.

You have a very nice looking home with lots of class. I am still wondering what was wrong with the basement before. Wood paneling, carpeted bar, Cooper Tire sign, what's not to like? Good ole' man cave to me, just add a projector and a Lady leg lamp to the bar and your set! However if you insist on redoing it (as you must since you have started demoing a classic) good luck, have fun, spend money, and enjoy the process.

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Old 12-06-2009, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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RT - thanks for the words of wisdom. While I would have been fine with a lot of the basement, the other half of our family was not...hence how renovating it became a condition for me getting my equipment finally. I was pretty bummed to see the bar go, but it was a strange angle that made it not nearly as functional as it looked.

On to construction questions-we are planning to use either dricore or the platon/OSB combo for flooring. We have a little lag time while we get permitting dealt with, so we are trying to figure out whether to put down subfloor prior to framing, or attach the framing direct to the floor and then lay subfloor inside the walls? Anyone who's used one of these methods have recommendations?
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Old 12-06-2009, 02:51 PM
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I have used the platon/OSB combo it is well worth the time/money invested. I framed the walls then put the subfloor down between the walls. You can build on it, but I just elected not to do it that way. The platon is cheaper per sq. ft. vs. the dircore option, but from what I gather the dircore is less labor intensive. I'm tight as a sea lions rear end so the platon looked better to the bottom line. After the subfloor was in I noticed an immediate change in how my basement "felt", no more cold soaked feet and a more main floor feel. You wont regret going with dircore or the platon, and IMO it would be easier to frame first then do the flooring, but I guess it is your space that ultimately will lead you to decide how to do it. You can check out my build link in my sig, I detailed my installation of my subfloor. I'll be happy to help you anyway I can.

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I just checked, I did the platon/OSB page 9 of my build thread.

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Old 12-06-2009, 05:12 PM
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I watched Norm on This Old House shingle an eyebow bump one time. Quite a project!
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok everybody, as promised I have a bunch of potential layouts to throw out there. We still haven't come to any solid conclusion, so any input would be appreciated. The main ideas we are trying to figure out are 1. how to conceal the concrete block and 2. what to do with the narrower area on the east end of the basement. Obviously my first idea was to build a new bar, with the concrete block hidden inside


Note the simulated built in shelving beneath the stairs. That's something we have been thinking about including (though not in this setup, where the couch might be butted against or close to that wall). While it is probably my favorite, it ranks low in WAF. My wife really wants to have some sort of built in chest/cabinets to store some rubbermaid containers in, since we will eventually lose a lot of storage space in the basement by finishing other rooms. We thought of making the narrow area into a chest sort of thing, with a cushion on top so it could be used as seating as well.


We were pretty pumped about this idea until we actually looked downstairs and realized how huge this thing would end up being. We're trying to figure out whether scaling it back would still look ok. Then we have the other relatively generic orientations, where we can disguise the block as an end table, or as some kind of speaker stand/shelf where a matching one is built on the other side of the tv.




More progress photos to come tomorrow when I actually turn on the desktop computer.
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:18 AM
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I would put a 92" to 96" screen on the 11' foot wall and hang a pj. With a viewing distance of 17', you have more than enough room. I would then either remove part of "the block" and encase the rest in a pillar or remove the whole thing all together. On the opposite side of the room where the wall juts out, would be a great place for a built in rack. Just extend the wall down as far as would like
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