Monday, March 24, 2014

Basement Remodel: Imperfect Progress

The contractors have put in a few long days at this point, and have been making lots of progress!  Not all of it is perfect though, and one thing I've learned is this: If you can be home for your remodel, DO IT!!!

I've been able to telework for 2 of the 5 days they've been at our house.  The days I was there, I learned a lot about where the leak was coming from and how bad the damage really was.  I also learned how people cut corners, mess stuff up, and don't necessarily respect your property.  I saw a lot of things I otherwise would never have known about.

Also this: If you can't be there all day, go over all the work EVERY NIGHT with a fine-toothed comb.

So, what's been done?

New sliding doors in the living room

  • They broke the old one getting it out.  If I hadn't seen it shatter, I probably would have wondered about all those glass chunks under the couch for years....
  • The door handles were 5" different.  Yeah that's gotta get fixed!
  • The doors are installed 1/2" different in height.  Jury's out on the solution for this one.
  • In general, I'm expecting at least one door will have to be completely removed and replaced. 
the handles are 5" different in height

one door frame is 1/2" higher than the other

New window in the basement

  • Wasn't ordered with the grids like we asked, but it sounds like they can fix those after the job.
  • So much more light down there now!  It feels like a real room!
new window, new French door, and no rotten wood!

New French door in the basement

  • It's so pretty!!!
  • The panes are definitely smaller than the original sliding door, but we were willing to sacrifice view to have the French door down here.  Good thing we added that window!


Structural Work

  • It's not pretty.  I guess that's why they invented drywall!
  • The corner of the header got crushed during installation.  We brought it up to the contractor, and the ended up pulling it out, rotating it, and installing it where the crushed corner wouldn't take any of the load.
  • I also learned the extent of my Dad's engineering nerdiness, as he calculated the load on that crushed corner over the phone using his old textbooks that were copyrighted in 1914.  From what he calculated, and how bad the damage was, apparently we're really lucky the whole house wasn't caving in before we started this project!
  • On the positive side, there's no more rotten wood!


What was causing the leak

  • A big chunk of siding missing
  • No waterproofing under the sliding door
The bottom piece of siding is missing a triangle, so all the water shed by the siding 20 feet above this is able to get into the house.  No wonder the damage was so bad!
This is what it looked like when they removed the sliding door.  Those are shingles used as "waterproofing" on the left side, and nothing at all on the right side.  Which is what allowed water to rot out everything and cause stuff like that awesome hole in the floor.

 Other issues and things I've noticed

  • Only one of three exterior lights I ordered was shipped.  Good thing I opened the box and realized the error in time for them to send the other two before the electrician comes!
  • Subcontractors seem to be unreliable, and your contractor may have trouble getting in touch with them!
  • Keep an eye on how the guys treat your stuff.  Yeah, my landscaping looks like crap right now because it's the end of winter.  But that doesn't mean that throwing a sliding door on top of my crispy azaleas is OK!!!  And they're really lucky they only set the saw on my pansies and not my peony!!! 
  • If you want your furniture to survive your remodel, move it yourself and cover it well.

Everything I was ever warned about seems to be true.  It's expensive, it's loud, it's stressful, and you need to keep a close eye on what's happening.

I've already made Tommy promise we won't ever do a project bigger than this if we can help it!

You might also be interested in these posts:

Basement Remodel: Getting Started
Save money on your remodel by doing your own demo

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