Basement Before and After

Before you starting reading, grab the tissues, or maybe a dust mask, or perhaps a bottle of hand sanitizer. This is, I hope pray, as bad is it gets when it comes to depressing home renovations. But I fear it’s not.

The basement is unfinished save for one set of built in closets. Which is to say the entire foundation of the house is visible, fully exposed, except for the three-foot area where a 15 foot-long closet meets the wall. According to Murphy’s Law, this is where the crack in the foundation revealed at our inspection* should be found. Indeed, it is.


Water seeps in through the cracks during rainstorms (something we seem to have had at least three times a week, each week since our inspection in April or May).

water in basement

In order for the foundation crack sealers to give us a repair quote, we needed to find and expose the crack. Which meant removing a little bit of drywall. Or so I naively thought.

I will plan a post about how to remove drywall. These were my tools. Plus safety goggles. Oprah was my guide.

tools to remove drywall


scoring drywall
That wasn’t so bad!

Except that I found some water damage from a flood that I suspects occured in the 1980s. It affected the first 10 or so inches on ONE piece of drywall, so it likely affected the nearby drywall. Right?

removing moldy drywall


basement after

This was followed by the need to do more removal work to uncover the crack which spurred this whole project on.

exposing the foundation crack

The previous owner, AB, the man who literally built this house back in the mid-1950s left a couple of surprises behind. (Sadly, no money; though I thought about tucking a few bucks behind the studs just for a quick photo just to mess with you, but I believe the owner’s daughters, their real estate agent and ours sometimes check in on my blogs and I didn’t want to raise a whole ruckus, even though we rightfully own everything left in the house. And again, there was no money.)

AB dated a few of the studs, so we know he built the workshop wall (behind the back of the closet) on October 12, 1966, but the actual closet was not constructed until 1980. I love that he not only signed the main closet stud, but also left this behind:

basement smiley

Speaking of closet studs, check this out.

Hubs removes drywall

Yeah, that’s the Husband lending some muscle to the project. Reluctantly.
*The house, an estate sale, was sold “as is.”  I believe this is legal speak for, “You can’t sue us even if the garage roof caves in on your car.”

10 Responses to Basement Before and After
  1. Selfish Mom
    June 28, 2011 | 9:16 am

    Ugh. Leaks are so much fun. We’ve had many, but they’ve all been from above, including a drain pipe that cracked in the wall leaking water on all four floors.

  2. kim/reluctant renovator
    June 28, 2011 | 9:19 am

    O-M-G. Four stories?!

  3. Erin @ One Project at a Time
    June 28, 2011 | 4:54 pm

    I feel your pain on buying As-Is. Its such a jab when you discover a particularly painful problem too. Like you weren’t already made enough about all the work and money you’ll have to put into the problem, and then some Captain Kick-Me-While-I’m-Down always says, “Well, you bought the house as-is…” At least it’s good to have another blogger out there to commiserate with, so thank you for that. 🙂

  4. Jen
    June 28, 2011 | 5:31 pm

    LA-LA-LA can’t hear you! :/ Our new house isn’t as-is, but through a relocation company, so it might as well be. LA-LA-LA!!!!

    Didja ever find the crack? 🙁

  5. admin
    June 28, 2011 | 5:44 pm

    Yes, with the wall removed, we found the origin. We thought the crack was caused by the bolts in the foundation from the closet wall, but it’s more of a stress thing, which commonly occurs near the I-bean that supports the house, which also means, there is a smaller (thankfully) foundation crack almost directly across the basement from this one. It doesn’t need repair. Yet. This one will cost us just under $400, less than the $1200 or so our inspector had suggested.

    Of course, the skunk removal might cost around $300 – $500, but I’ve only mentioned that on Facebook thus far….

  6. Beth @ TheAngelForever
    June 28, 2011 | 5:56 pm

    So impressed with all of the work you are doing. Love the surprises you found that date work done previously.

    Just before we closed on our house a major complication came up. You see the people who owned the house had not paid their mortgage in over two years (this was 7 years ago). They knew that it was close to be foreclosed on, but did not have to tell us that. Well, they thought the price of the house would cover what they owed. Not too fast there. They didn’t factor in all of the interest over the years. The bank agreed to sell the house and take less money. One thing after another has happened since that time. Right before we installed carpets upstairs, we found an active leak. This was literally 2 weeks ago we closed on the house. The inspector was questioned about this area. Never a dull moment with houses, especially when it comes to water from the basement and above.

    Good luck and more power to you doing a lot of this on your own.

    • admin
      June 28, 2011 | 6:01 pm

      You are too kind. My husband thinks, in this particular case, it was a matter of me being stubborn and maybe a bit thick-headed. I just needed that damaged wall GONE. I actually got a blister on my thumb from working so hard. (Cue the violins!)

  7. Ellen S.
    June 28, 2011 | 10:26 pm

    Kim, I have respect for you on a whole other level after reading this one. You are one very brave woman!!!

    Can’t wait to hear about the skunk removal saga. Eeek. Those critters scare me. So do leaks. I repeat, you are BRAVE!

    • admin
      June 28, 2011 | 11:10 pm

      I have to keep reminding myself “we bought low.” We knew about the foundation crack at the inspection, I just didn’t realize all the work involved to uncover the crack. It’s going to be fabulous….some day.

  8. Fixing a foundation crack
    July 6, 2011 | 6:41 am

    […] Saturday, the crack dealer, oops, crack sealer, stopped by to work his magic. We thought the foundation crack resulted from a bolt screwed into the foundation wall circa 1980 when the previous owner built a […]