Friday, October 29, 2004

Day Eight

We're the only ones on our block with our own personal dumpster. This makes garbage hauling a whole lot easier and cheaper than running to the dump in Burnsville and paying $50+ a load.

Tammy and I went to J. Ring Glass Studios in Mpls this morning and got the rest of the glass for the Tulip lamp we're making. We've taken an interest lately in getting involved in 'warm' glass. Warm glass is a reference to working with a kiln. Dan will be wiring us a special dedicated circuit for a future kiln. We'd like to play around with warm glass some this Winter but we'll have to wait and see if it's in the budget or not.

Now we know why Dan and John like Menards so much more than Home Depot. We stopped by the 'orange' store to look at shower doors and waited and waited and waited for someone to help us. We finally gave up and went to Menards where we were immediately helped and had our order written up within ten minutes of walking in the door. They get first shot at my business in the future.

They roughed in the storage closet and most of the rest of the walls and next week they'll spend working on electrical, plumbing and some insulation...I think I got that right. The week after next should see the dry wall up and ready for inspection.

Tim stopped by and we gave him the grand tour. You've got to use your imagination at this point but he got a good idea of our plans.

Where we go to church at Hosanna they did a very cool thing where before carpet went down on the new addition's floor, people came in and wrote Bible verses on the concrete. If you were to lift up the carpet you'd find the floor covered in scripture written with magic marker. Tammy had the idea to do the same thing with our basement. We didn't just use the floor though as we've got verses and notes written all over the walls and studs too. Who knows by who but someday our messages will be read again. In the mean time I like the idea that our basement is enveloped in scripture.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Day Seven

The walls continue to be roughed in. Today they worked around the area of the bar and window. One thing that I've noticed about Dan and John is that they take a lot of pride in their work. There are many shortcuts they could take but they choose to put in the extra effort to do it right knowing that most people probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference. They also went out and bought the rest of the lumber needed to finish building the walls.

Chance, the guy working on the heating ducts also came by tonight and ran the necessary ducts. That was a noisy job. He was a little short on materials so he'll be back tomorrow to finish. Here's a little bit of what he did.

I went to BestBuy and bought the surround sound for the project. I was able to spend a few minutes talking with Brent before he had to go to a manager's meeting. He told me there was a good chance that he's about to be promoted to a higher management position by this weekend. He's looking real good and it was obvious when I first saw him that he's been working out.

I bought the same Klipshe Quintet system we have upstairs. It works fine there and I know it will be just fine for the basement. One upgrade I made was buying Monster cables for the project. I've always thought that sort of thing was overrated but I went ahead and did it anyway. Brent thought it was money well spent too.

Tammy spent today making Halloween costumes for Allie and Toby...they're going to be little clowns whether they like it or not...I don't think they're going to like it. I have to work Halloween night so I'll have to miss the fun but I'm sure they'll be a hit with the kids if we can get them to keep the outfits on. They're so cute.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Day Six

They worked on roughing in the walls for the sauna and bathroom today as well as reconstructing the bottom of the stairway leading into the basement. That had to be torn apart so they could install the laminated beams. It's going to really start moving now Dan was saying so we need to get moving too on all the little details such as fixtures and wall sconces and the placement of outlets and switches. I think we're looking at hanging drywall in a couple weeks.

Here's a copy of the floor plan to give you an idea of where we're going with this. The only thing left out are Keith's cabinets and entertainment center and the bar extending at an angle off of the kitchenette.

Dan was mentioning last night that it would be a good idea to run a cable for a future tv to the bar. I hadn't really thought about that as I didn't see a need for one but the more I thought about it the more I think it's a good idea. I mentioned it to Keith and he said he'd already suggested that to me. I've been preoccupied lately so it doesn't surprise me that it went in one ear and out the other. For that matter, the same thing happened with Keith's suggestion of a bar. I approached him later saying I thought we'd like a bar and he said he'd already suggested that to me but I didn't seem to want to do it. I do vaguely remember that conversation. I dunno...maybe I'm not riding enough with this colder weather and my head is elsewhere. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Day Five

The jacks were removed today and the main floor settled nicely on the laminated beams. There was some concern yesterday that they may have to use some shims to fill in some spaces between the floor joists and the beam because the main floor had settle unevenly over the pole which used to be there. No shims were needed and so far we've noticed no cracks in the drywall on the main level.

The other job of the day was to create a half wall out of the fully studded wall which separates the halfs of the basement. Tammy had the idea to make it a half wall so the bumper pool table could be positioned closer to it and pool cues could be extend through the opening without having to worry about bumping up against a wall. Plus, I think it will look nicer this way. We're going to arch the opening in the half wall as well as the walkway opening to the left of it.

Tomorrow should see some changes as they begin roughing in the walls.

Dan's heating and air conditioning man, Chance, came by tonight to size up the job and decide how to route everything. One thing we also decided to add is an air exchanger. I've always wanted to add one to help reduce the amount of moisture on our windows in the winter. I'm sure it's got other added benefits too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Day Four

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got home today but it certainly wasn't to see the laminated beams in place. Dan and John don't fool around. When I got home they already had two of the three beams in position and were in the process of getting them lined up by taking measurements from the wall to the beam at a few different places.They're letting the main level above relax into place over the next day by releasing the jacks slowly.

Our basement sort of reminds me of a military recruit where the Drill Sergent breaks the recruit down before building him up. Our basement is in the breaking down stage at this point but progress is definitely being made. The laminated beams are in place...the plumbing for the shower and sauna is in place and the sump basket is also in place.

Toby and Allie were good and stayed out of their way the whole day without the gate being set up. When I got home I had to put it up because they wanted to follow me downstairs. Of course Allie can slip through the railings while Toby watches wishing he were a little skinnier.

We've got to make sure we stay ahead of the construction on our end by having our selections for fixtures and all the other assorted things picked out and ready to go. I continue to be awed as I watch the job progress. I'd starve if I had to do construction like this for a living.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Day Three

Day Three. It was only a few months ago that we were thinking about finishing the basement ourselves. I remember when I first met Tammy and how impressed I was that she refinished her own counter tops in her townhome. She's never been one to shy away from projects like that. It was around that same time that she also bought a few pieces of furniture at a garage sale and reupholstered them. I figured that between the two of us we could cobble together a basement project we'd be happy with. Maybe not. After watching Dan and John work their magic the last few days and realizing early on that they think on a much different level than I could ever hope to in matters such as these, I'm glad we've got them doing the job for us.

They set about pouring concrete right away this morning. The bathroom and sauna plumbing was put in place yesterday and today it was cemented. They also dug out the spot for the sump basket and installed it. It looked like it was a bit of a struggle to get it in place but they did it. One of the major obstacles of the entire project is to remove the post which sits in the middle of everything once you enter the basement. This is the sort of thing which I'd never imagine taking on if I were doing the work. Dan figured it could be done and brought an engineer in the confirm his belief. To do this it will be necessary to remove the two section overhead beam which the post supports and replace it with one continuous 24 foot laminated beam. Have a look...the kind people at Menards (not the orange store) dropped these off this morning. Now all we had to do was find a way to get them in the basement where we could put them to use. I say 'we' because it was at this point where I volunteered my services as it looked like they could use me. There were three of them and we took each one around to the side of the house and lowered them through the egress window into the basement. They're heavy buggers coming in at somewhere around 200lbs each. After a few breaks to catch our breath we successfully got them situated in the basement.

The last job of the day was to remove the broken-up concrete from the basement and take it to the dump. Once the laminated beams are in place Dan figures most of the grunt work will be done. John is looking forward to beginning the framing work maybe sometime next week. One thing which struck me early on is how they both have to know not just one or two aspects of construction but just about all of them. From breaking up concrete to understanding the engineering which goes into keeping a home sound and everything in between. I'm just along for the ride and hoping to learn a bit along the way.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Day Two

What a difference a day can make. They got to work ripping up the concrete in a couple areas. The first thing they did when they arrived though was to spend some time with Toby and Allie. We set up a fence to keep the pups from going downstairs but Allie found that she can fit through the rungs in the railing and go around the fence all together...Toby is a bit too heavy to follow.

To keep the dust to a minimum upstairs they sealed off the doorway leading to the basement and had a fan blowing air out the basement window. They punched the hole for the additional sump basket and also dug up the concrete in the future bathroom and sauna. Hey, you can actually see the sauna drain as it sits in, this dream is coming together.

Their preferred store for product is Menards as they've gotten to know much of the help there but when they don't have what they need they like to let them know that they won't hesitate to go to the orange store (Home Depot)...I thought that was pretty funny.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Day One

We're finally doing it...we're finishing our basement. We'll take this baron, cinder block lined enclave and turn it into a warm and cozy family place. I say warm because part of the plan is to build a sauna where we can melt away the cares of the world. I'd love to be able to do the work ourselves but I'm no pretender when it comes to matters such as this and I think it's best left to the pros. Keith will be doing the cabinets and bar for us while his friends, Dan and John, will do the rest of the work.

Dan is a former Northwest Airlines mechanic who began his remodeling business after being laid off several years ago. John is also a laid off airplane mechanic and together they come highly recommended from Keith.

We had a garage sale a few weeks ago and were able to part with all sorts of stuff we'd been storing in the basement. It actually looks pretty nice down there now without any clutter.

Today was day one of the project. They mapped out some room dimensions on the floor then left to go shop for supplies. I think one of the first things they plan to do is to punch another sump drain in the concrete on the opposite end of the basement from the existing sump basket. That was my idea in an effort to prevent any water damage from future heavy rains. It also affords us the protection of having another sump pump online should either one fail. I'll need to get a battery backup for at least one of them though in the event we lose power during a storm. It's the nature of the beast I suppose when you finish a room below ground and the potential for water damage is there. We're investing too much to not try and do all we can to protect it.

Another big obstacle they'll tackle early is to remove the support post which is in the way but does serve a vital function. The post is positioned on a seam in a 26 foot beam which supports the main level. The plan is to jack up the main level and remove both the post and beam while replacing them both with one continuous 26 foot laminated beam. It will be nice to not have the post in the way.

There is so much to do to pull this whole project together. Tammy and I will be doing some stained glass for the cabinets Keith is making. We still don't have a design figured out, much less an idea of what we'd like. I began work on a stained glass lamp to hang above the bumper-pool table. We're making the same 18" Tiffany reproduction Tulip lamp we made for Don and Dorothy. Yea, I's not your typical pool table lamp but I think it'll look nice.

I spent last week trying to figure out what to buy for a tv. We initially bought a 50" Sony but then Tammy got to thinking that a little bigger might be better. Keith agreed and so I canceled the order and continued shopping. I stumbled upon an online Sony forum and found that they'd organized a buying group. I was able to buy a 60" set though the group for $900 less than I would've paid at BestBuy. It was delivered's a monster! I came home from work to find it sitting in some free space in our family room. I couldn't get over how big it is. For all its size though it weighs just a little over 100 lbs.