The next phase of construction was getting the drywall hung and paint on the walls. Some of the cabinets arrived in the laundry room, but the bathroom cabinets were not completed yet. Also, the bathroom and shower floors were finished long before the main hardwood floors. Due to costs and headroom, we decided to go with underfloor heating in the basement instead of forced air. Installing a forced air system would have given way to two choices. The most expensive would have been a two zone system with a thermostat in the basement as well as the main floor. There was no way to only use one thermostat. The temperature difference is so great between the basement and the main floor for just a single thermostat. A two zone system would have added quite a bit of cost and more duct work in the basement ceiling. An underfloor system added about an 1/2″ of floor thickness. With space at a premium and cost being an issue, we went with the underfloor heat.
We chose to install two zone controls into the underfloor system. Zone one will be for the bedroom, hallway and bathroom. Zone two will be for the rest of the basement. This way when we leave Seattle we can turn zone one down to 55 degrees and Robert does not have to worry about paying the electric bill to heat that part of the empty basement. He can turn zone two to whatever he wants depending on how much he uses the basement.
Here is a photo of the northwest corner of the bedroom. The large egress window is to the right. There were all sorts of communication problems with the window manufacturer. Those windows should have been in by now. They never held up the project, but it was a headache that I was glad I didn’t have to deal with long distance.
In the laundry room, part of the cabinets are in and the washer was moved downstairs. It had to be moved prior to the dryer due to the sequence in which the plumbing was completed. The plumber was taking all the old, useless plumbing out of the house as he installed the new stuff and it was easier to move the washer from the garage then it was to leave it and come back later to take out the plumbing. That’s why the dryer isn’t installed yet.
This is the closet for the laundry room. The angled portion of the wall inside the closet are the stairs. To the left of the closet is the new electrical panel. That box hanging out of the wall is connected to the underfloor heating system.
In the bathroom, the lights over the cabinets are in as well as the floor. The lights are as high as we could put them since the ceiling is so low. One area we did splurge on was the shower floor. We took this idea from Barbara’s house. Both Shelley and I have taken showers in her new bathroom downstairs with the pebble shower floor and it was great. So we went with that for our floor. In order to offset part of the cost, we only had the tile installer install the shower floor and the bathroom floor. When we go out to Seattle in April, we will install the shower walls ourselves.
In the office, we used the back wall (the south wall of the basement) as our accent wall. There is no door between the office and the living room. I had two choices with the office. I could put a door on it for privacy or put a closet in for storage. But I could not do both because then it would be a bedroom and there is no way to put in an egress window. So I went with the closet. I can still use the room as a guest room when friends come to Seattle with us by putting a futon in there.
The office (as well as the rest of the basement and main floor upstairs) is also hardwired for a LAN system. That is why you see double outlets in the walls. One is power, the other is ethernet. There will also be TV cable run in the ceiling to the office as well as the bedroom and living room. All are tied back to the network box so everything can be connected to the house’s network. The long-term plan is to able to access the network on all the televisions in the house. We had new network cables run to various points upstairs as well. These included the living room, both bedrooms and the kitchen. In fact, just in case, we had a “smurf” tube run up to the attic. In fact, if you look closely at that network panel below you see a blue tube sticking out of the top of the panel. That’s the tube running up to the attic. If we ever chose to put a second floor on the house, we also have the ability to run network cables up the tube to the second floor. The added cost of all of that was insignificant since the electrician was already doing the labor to run the new wiring. We just had to pay the cost of the wire. I should note, that tube is currently empty. We didn’t pay to put any wiring in it since the chance of a second floor is pretty remote right now. But the option is there in the future.
The network box is in the storage space under the stairs.
Across the room from the accent wall is the closet and the mechanical room. In this picture, everyone is standing in the closet. The mechanical room is to the right. The open doorway leading to the living room it to the left.
Now, for what I consider the main event. The living room. I am so excited by this room. As some of you know, I have been making drawings about a remodeled basement for 12 years. I always envisioned a space downstairs to relax, read or watch television. And I wanted to keep the brick fireplace intact and visible. I can’t stand it when I watch HGTV and the decorator takes a fireplace and paints it! I hate that. Now, this fireplace isn’t the greatest, prettiest brick around, but having some brick on a wall just looks nice. Of course, that’s my opinion too and others may love white painted brick. That’s just not my taste. I wanted the fireplace to be the vocal point of the living space and I think that is coming out in this construction. It still needs to be washed and cleaned up, but you can see how it is coming along.
Coming out of the ceiling are the network cables for the flat screen TV that will go in the space above the fireplace. On either side of the fireplace are the two speaker jacks for the stereo system. In the right corner, the northeast corner of the basement, is a niche that I will build shelves into. This will make the wall flush and fill in the open space. If you remember from the previous posts, this corner is where the old water heater and furnace were located.
In the closeup of the fireplace you can see the outlets in the ceiling better and see how they framed around the fireplace in more detail. Unfortunately, the fireplace brick was built into the foundation wall. So when the walls were framed out, the walls stuck out from the fireplace wall. Just no way to correct that short of building a new brick wall over the old brick. I just didn’t see the point in that. It’s an old house, and sometimes that’s what happens to you in old houses.
On the right you see the east wall of the basement. If you recall, behind that wall are the two new furnace ducts that Rich sold the inspector on to save head room. Since the two ducts did not extend down to the floor we ended up with more dead space in the walls. So I had the framer frame out these nooks along the floor for shelf space. Since floor space will be at a premium when it came to furniture, all these built-in nooks will allow us to limit the bookshelves we will need to have on the floor. That will free up floor space for chairs and a couch. The little bump-out in the ceiling to the left of the light is the heater duct behind the wall. Not much we could do with that short of pulling the wall out farther and I didn’t want to lose anymore floor space.
Just an update in real time. As you probably gather, these photos are a few months old. I’ve waited to do these updates because I have little control over when I get photos of the house. Our contractor has been great at sending us pictures since we haven’t been back to Seattle since early September and the walls were just framed out at that time. The drywall didn’t start till late September. As I write this post, the basement is still not completed. I’m not upset that it’s taking so long. Since we are not living there, I could care less. We are not paying by time, so it doesn’t cost extra to be delayed. There have been all sorts of issues right near the end.
The two biggest delays had to do with the concrete floor being out of tolerance for the hardwood floors and the Marmoleum floor in the laundry room was delayed because I lost an email for payment and forgot to pay the material supplier. The hardwood floor delay was just a few days, but added close to a $1,000 to level it out.
So, as I write this post, the laundry room floor went in just this past week and Tom (the framer and main subcontractor) will be finishing the trim work and installing the dryer. The only things left are the hardware and finishing up the network installation. I received a copy of the final plumbing inspection the week before Christmas. I anticipate the basement being completely finished by the end of January. About 6 to 8 weeks late.