The Not-So-Pretty House Progress

Before tackling the Master bed/bath rooms, and shortly after moving in, we completed a couple projects that weren't all pretty, but helped protect the house or just updated to more our style.  Before those updates get lost in the decorating of new rooms I wanted to share them here to remind ourselves of the progress we've made.

When we bought the house, we were aware of water issues, so one of the very first projects Mike took on was tying all the downspouts together and routing out towards our creek.  It destroyed our yard, but nothing is more important than keeping water out of the house!

We also learned why the garage was flooding, (driveway slopes toward it #facepalm) and why the water wasn't draining, (a shirt was stuffed down the drain (#doublefacepalm) and the drainpipe was crushed right outside the garage - probably why they stuffed the t-shirt down there).  There's very few things Mike and I hate more than throwing a cheap band-aid over a major issue, so Mike dug underneath the garage a bit and replaced the crushed pipe and tied that into everything as well.

The other major water issue was the crawlspace.  The main house structure has a full basement, but the living room behind the garage has a crawlspace beneath it.  During the inspection, Mike found that the basement access, as well as the outside vents had been sealed up, trapping all the moisture in there and allowing mold to grow.  It was so bad that the mold grew in stalagmite formations and not only were many of the block wet (on a dry day), but the floor joists supporting the living room and it's fireplace were completely rotted!  Here are some of the photos from the inspection:


It was actually a huge undertaking and Mike spent many weeks remediating the mold, replacing the joists, backfilling and waterproofing everything.  He even installed lighting!  Since I was pregnant and Archer was 8 months old, we were very grateful to still be living in our old home while Mike took care of the dirty work!

He started by opening up the basement access.  The fan was run almost nonstop to dry everything out.

He cleaned the mold and added a perforated pipe for proper drainage, and started backfilling with stone from the exterior window in the top right of the photo below.

It was a lot of stone and a tiny window so he made a little funnel to help the process!

He added insulation and waterproofing on the walls and, in Mike fashion, he went above and beyond what was necessary for a crawlspace, but unlike the creepy crawlspace memories of my childhood home, ours is now waterproofed, conditioned, and completely usable for storage!  We even added some of the old rugs that don't work in any of the rooms here for a little bit of comfort and protection for the things we store in here.  Right now it's just our extra air filters.

It's worth noting that we removed the moldy batt insulation from the floor joists and didn't replace it because this is a conditioned space (you can see the duct runs along it with a couple vents) and it's now the same as a room/basement below the living room, so there's no need to insulate it.

Because he's really extra (ha!), Mike finished the block edge with some solid surface leftover from one of his job demos. It helps finish off that edge, as well as adding something a little more comfortable to walk over when he has to get into the space.

The block work on the basement side was done around the same time we painted everything. When we moved in the first space to get any real attention was oddly enough the basement.  Because the barn isn't really usable yet, (we have to get it sealed up against all the critters that are living in there right now) all of what will be in the barn is housed in the garage, and all the garage stuff is in the family room next to the garage and in the basement.  Because we knew a lot of stuff would be going down there, not to mention once everything was down there it would be tough to move it all around, we decided to focus our efforts and paint and seal that space first.

I didn't get any before photos, but the whole space was a dingy yellow (the previous owner's loved blue and yellow, ek!).  One of the painters from work gave me several gallons of heavy duty waterproofing paint but they were all different colors.  I chose the grays and whitish colors and hoped that it came out decent when they were all mixed!  It's basically a light gray color and works perfectly for the basement.

The space outside of the crawlspace access is next to the washer and dryer, so I decided to create a laundry area with some storage and a space to fold clothes.    

I used Ikea cabinets because we're familiar with them, they're inexpensive, and it was easy to design and utilize the entire space and most importantly these days - have delivered to the house!  I went with the basic VEDDINGE fronts with the BAGGANĂ„S handle in black and the EKBACKEN countertop which is a light gray laminate that looks kinda like concrete.  Mike wanted to keep the basement "industrial" vibe going on

We added under cabinet lighting and I haven't filled a quarter of the cabinets or drawers with laundry items, so it's perfect!  The laminate was close enough in size that we didn't cut it down and it fits laundry baskets and an embarrassingly large amount of clothes piled up waiting to be folded too!

Also shown in the photo above is the work Mike did to the sump pump.  Here's what it looked like before we bought the house.

During our inspection we tested the radon and it was at levels necessary for a mitigation system.  Mike was able to buy all the supplies and install it himself (he was determined to find a system that didn't require the massive pipe up the back of the house).  I won't go into too much detail because it's best left to the professionals, but know that we went from around 4 plus pCi/L to less than 0.5 pCi/L and it's still monitored today. The radon mitigation system ran into the sump pump and when he was tying in all the downspouts, he also dug and ran conduit to the barn for water, electric, and gas.  

He cut out the old sump crock (it was a solid piece of vitrified clay pipe on end with a concrete cast bottom and he had to smash it to get it out) and replaced it with a new plastic perforated crock and back-filled with gravel so that any water that gets around the crock or radon laden air can be discharged.  He also tied-in the crawl space perforated drain pipe to the crock to drain any water picked up inside the crawl space.  

He patched back in the floor and sealed the crock with an air tight lid and gaskets around the lid and piping.  That was probably an incredibly boring paragraph and it's hard to take something ugly like a sump pump and do a whole heck of a lot of work to make it only slightly less ugly, but we take a lot of pride in the less glamorous projects too, because we know they make the house work efficiently and safely.

We're glad to have a lot of these upfront messy projects done so that we're able to move on to things like renovating bathrooms and painting bedrooms, but they're just as important and I wanted to make sure to show these steps of the journey to making this house a home that works best for us!

Mike recently finished the tile in the shower and just prepping for grout and I've started painting all the doors (so many doors!) so I'll be back with some progress in our bed and bath soon!  

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