Friday, September 23, 2011

Basement Living Room... (LONG & PIC HEAVY)

21 months ago, we embarked on a bit of renovation around this here house. Due to having a home based business, (most recent reference here) and because said business requires a bunch of space set aside, in my opinion, for the ease and function of day to day activities, we were without a living space for a few months in late 2009. To fix this problem we decided to renovate our mostly un-finished basement.

One good thing about a ranch-style house, at least ours, is that the basement runs the entire length & width of the main floor. So, renovating the space, not only netted us a new living room space, 2nd bathroom and dedicated laundry space, but also doubled our home's square footage. We opted to hire a contractor to do the renovation mainly because we were moving plumbing, adding plumbing and a sewage pump, as well as an exterior exit and new electrical. And, even though I think we could have handled a LOT of the work, we are very inexperienced and frankly wanted a quicker result than self-renovation could have afforded.

I do not have any pictures of what the basement looked like prior to demolition or the renovation. In fact I don't even have any good pictures of what it looked like AFTER the renovation was completed and we furnished and were living in the space full time.

**Smacks forehead in frustration!**

Anyways...this month of September, while also being my birthday month (which was YAY!) was one of upheavals in the H household. We experienced Hurricane Irene and the loss of power for about 12 hours, which I thought at the time was horrendous. We know others were out much longer and/or sustained MUCH more damage and inconvenience than we did, so no big for us. But we also received the rains and storms of  stalled & land-fallen Tropical Storm Lee.  So, long story short, onto already swollen and rain-soggy ground we received over 13 inches of rain between September 4 & September 9. Which resulted in flash flooding,
Our Mailbox, right in front of our house.

Our backyard "pool"
which was scary here at our house, and severe flooding of both the Susquehanna river and nearby creeks and streams. The creek which pretty much flows through every township, borough and near every neighborhood near me, normally floods at 7 1/2 feet. As of Friday 9/9 the creek crested at over 26'. Needless to say, the damages we've sustained here in our area of the world aren't something we're used to and according to neighbors and older generations haven't been seen since 1972 & Tropical Storm Agnes.

***I want to point out and make VERY clear, that we are supremely lucky that we have only had the damages we've had. Everyone in our families are safe, and most of us have only sustained minor damage to our homes. My husband's one sister has sustained major flood damage to her home, so she and her family are currently living elsewhere and may never be able to return to their home. (In fact...their home filled up to over 2 ft on their first floor, and the area around the house flooded so quickly they were stranded on their 2nd floor and had to be rescued by helicopter. We know we are very lucky, and we are grateful everyone we love is safe.) Last I heard, it was being inspected to determine if the home is even salvageable. We know there are those around us who are dealing with much worse than we and weren't so lucky in having all in their friends and family survive safe and sound. We pray for everyone who was lost and those dealing with supreme damages and loss to rebound quickly.***

We were also lucky in that we did not receive any flood waters into the house...truth be told, we felt like an island for most of Wednesday, 9/7/11.

We thought we were going to be spared. In the end, we were not. The water table underground rose so dramatically we unfortunately started experiencing groundwater seepage from under our basement floor. Hubby woke up around 2 am Thursday 9/8 and noticed that we had about 6" of water on the outside of our exterior basement door. 
Where it all started.
At first we thought it was isolated to right there. Little did we know, the water was all over the basement.

Starting to come up around the edges
See, we had sprung for the premium under padding for our carpeting, which had a layer of waterproof plastic that laid against the floor. Great we thought for softness underfoot, protection against minor water under the floor, etc. It turned out, Water was accumulating under our carpet padding, but wasn't able to seep through due to the extreme water-resistant properties of the under padding. Sweet! Unfortunately, we didn't realize this completely ~Can I blame sleeplessness?~ and proceeded to walk all over the carpet, placing furniture up high, and removing extremely valuable pieces, "just in case" or so we thought at the time.

preservation mode @ 2am; you can 'sort of' see the gist of our remodel
By the afternoon of Thursday, though we realized that we had 6" of water in the entire basement and we needed to do more than just place things up higher, but actually move our furniture and items to the first floor. Needless to say the carpeting was ruined and so were our baseboards and roughly 6 inches of drywall.

We are so very frustrated and were very overwhelmed with the feelings of futility. Although, again, we know we have it MUCH better than scores of others, we are still left with some very disappointing clean-up and a long road to remodeling ahead. We proceeded to use a service to come and pump out the water, because we did not really think long and hard about it, could not find a pump and thought that getting the water out quickly was paramount to saving our freshly new living space. The service came and left with less than 1/2" water remaining. We were astounded to see within 30 minutes of their departure, 6" of water returned to the basement. Of course, we thought. I couldn't ever be that easy. We were able to find a utility pump on Friday afternoon and again proceeded to pump ourselves out. Again, the water returned, although this time it was within a few hours. Woohoo...progress I guess! All in all, we pumped ourselves out 3 times over the course of 4 days and finally by Sunday we had all the water out. During this time, we were able to move 98% of our belongings and furniture, and remove 100% of the carpeting that covered 75% of our basement floors.
Carpet Mountain
The next week was all about clean-up. We needed to cut away drywall, remove baseboards and try to prevent mold growth. We cut 2 feet-ish of drywall off the walls to make sure we got all the soggy material that is such a breeding ground for that nasty M-word. We also sprayed and sprayed and sprayed a bleach solution all over the damp floors and wood framing to hopefully kill anything that may or may not have begun growing. Between work and life, it took us, hubby's dad, and our neighbor's son a full week to accomplish.
 Now, we are in dry-out mode.
2 dehumidifiers plus 2 fans running non-stop
We are drywall-less on the lower 1/3 of walls and mostly cleaned up.

Hubby's new perch for Gears of War3

bad lighting, and all my pretty carpet is gone
Anyone need to go potty?

We need at least another full week of drying time to make sure the framing and everything behind the drywall is nice and dry and mold-free.

Then begins the slow process to return the space into at least a fraction of what it once was. ~which unfortunately, I failed to photo document. Oh memories, you will have to suffice!~ At least, (bright side, anyone?) this allows us to flex our impressive weak DIY/home improvement muscles and to make some aesthetic changes to some our former choices. Now that we lived in the space, and know what we liked and didn't like so much we can adjust and hopefully make changes that will be easier to fix down the road if this ever happens again.

So, wish us luck! Anyone have any advice, tips or tricks to anythign we are about to face?

Hope the first day fall has been wonderful for all of you! 

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