5th Ave House Remodel

Some of you are familiar with the current remodel that is going on with the 5th Ave house in Seattle, some of you are not.  We were back in Seattle last week and stayed at the house while we visited.  Construction was paused for the week while we were there.  So I thought I would update everyone on what is going on in the basement.

We are adding a bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, office and living room to the basement.  Mom and dad upgraded the pipes from galvanized to copper while they lived there, but that was the only upgrade they did.  That left everything else in need of upgrading and that is part of the remodel.

We are re-roping the entire electrical wiring in the house.  This includes the current main floor (which is not being remodeled except for the wiring) and the attic.  We are upgrading the electrical panel to a 200 amp panel and moving the service from the south side (near the garage) to the north side of the house.  Since we are upgrading the wiring and adding the panel, moving it only cost an additional $675.00, so it made sense to move it away from the garage.  Here is a picture of the new pole that is being added to the house.  The old television antenna will be coming down at some point.  The other thing you can see in this photo is the wall (the large metal ‘box’ to the right of the chimney) for the egress window.  More on that later.

new panel poleRoom in the basement is paramount since it is so small.  So we decided to use a tankless waterheater instead of a traditional tank waterheater.  That made the mechanical room smaller and allowed for an additional closet in the office.  The original thought was to place the tankless waterheater in the laundry room, but venting was an issue as was the wall space it was going to take up.  So, we moved it outside behind the chimney.  So you can not see it in the photo above.

water heater

Some other plumbing upgrades included moving the toilet, adding a walk-in shower and a two sink vanity in the bathroom, a laundry room sink and moving the washer and dryer downstairs from the garage.  They had to tear up some of the concrete floor in the basement to add the drain piping for the shower and move the toilet.

The other big upgrade is the HVAC system.  Although we are not adding air conditioning, we had to upgrade the furnace and duct work in some areas.  The old furnace was over 20 years old and the duct work was large and took up too much space.  The new furnace is a 95% efficient furnace, which should help on the heating bill and the upgraded duct work should help with losing heat on the way to the rooms.  The duct work is being placed vertically against the wall and insulated (that’s the silver stuff against the wall).  Another layer of insulation will be placed outside the duct work between it and the wall.  The lower portion of the wall will be built in shelves as will the far corner where the old waterheater and furnace had been.  Here is a before (on the left) and after (on the right) photo.  The furnace is a single zone furnace that will heat the upstairs only.  We are putting in electric underfloor heating for the basement.  The cost of a two-zone furnace and the extra duct work was just too expensive and took up too much space.  The floors will be bamboo and are rated for underfloor heating.


By the way, the brick work around the fireplace will remain.

One other thing we did that can be seen in these photos is the earthquake retro fit we had done.  The house was never tied into the foundation, it was just sitting on it.  All around the foundation you can see metal plates and bolts that tie these two pieces together.  The idea being that this should keep the house from shifting off the foundation in an earthquake.  Since we can not get earthquake insurance, hopefully this keeps things together if an earthquake larger then the Nisqually Quake of 2001 hits Seattle.

40% of the cost of the remodel relate to the HVAC, electrical and plumbing.

For a bedroom, you have to have two ways to exit the house in case of a fire.  One way are the current stairs.  The other way needs to be a window, so an egress window had to be cut into the foundation.  The old window was expanded to fit the code requirements for egress.  This is the framed out spot where the window will go (its on order) and the outside photo is the window well where the window will exit to.  This is on the north side of the house behind the chimney.  That metal ‘box’ is not really a box, but a three-sided wall that will sit in the hole to form the window well.

egress outsideegress inside

Here is the closet in the bedroom.  It will have a side-to-side sliding door.  Behind the closet is the bathroom.  You can see the pipes in the closet wall for the two-sink vanity.  In this before and after shot, look at all the pipes coming down from the ceiling in the before shot.  All those had to be removed and re-routed to open up the head clearance and fit them into the walls.  You can see that how we moved the toilet around as well.  The toilet in the after photo is the contractors.  It is not the one we purchased.


Here is a photo from inside the bathroom looking at the walk in shower.  You can see all the new piping along the wall.  Those are the new drains and vents that had been hanging down from the ceiling.  There will be no tub in the downstairs bathroom.  The laundry room is behind the bathroom and you can see the washing  machine in place temporarily as Robert needs a place to wash his clothes during the remodel.


Finally, in the corner of the basement under the kitchen (where dad’s old work room was), we are making a room we are calling the office.  We can’t call it a bedroom, as there is only one way out in case of fire, but we have a closet in the room so we can not put a door on the room.  It’s pretty big and can be used as a guest bedroom when it’s finished.  In this photo, you can see our current bed where we sleep when we stay in Seattle and you can see how we are using the space under the stairs for additional storage.  There is a wall in the middle of this spaced under the stairs and on the other side of that wall will be the closet for the laundry room.

the officeThat’s it for now.  The framing will be done this week.  The rough in electrical work will start this week as well.  Dry wall should be up and finished in about 2 – 3 weeks.  We travel back to Seattle on August 5th for another 11 day vacation but we are not staying in the house.  We’ll be staying with Barbara for a couple nights and stay in the 5th Ave house on the weekends so we don’t hold up construction.


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