Wednesday, February 25, 2015

crawling along.

Okay! After a morning of hot chocolate (from scratch!) and Girl Scout cookies with a friend, I'm at least partway back to feeling like tackling some work. Know what else helps? Before and after pictures!

Oh yes. The dudes came last Wednesday to encapsulate our crawl space. Ahhh...a whole week of knowing that the spider hotel down below (note: not a vagina euphemism) has been eliminated. The difference is intense:

Doesn't it look ready to become our indoor pool?! THAT WOULD BE SO COOL. At the very least, it's completely prepped to house our hot tub, which would be built into the floor of the family room above the crawl space. THAT WOULD BE EVEN COOLER.

Anyway. Obviously, part of the huge visual difference is that we haven't put anything back in the crawl space yet, so it's not currently a wasteland of unwanted furniture and old closet doors. But I hope you can tell from the pictures how much lighter and brighter it is. Turns out sheets of spiderwebs and black-papered insulation really ruin the view, you know? 

The crawl space dudes were here for about three hours. Yep, they worked fast. Good thing, too, because Rowan and I were confined to the front playroom pretty much the whole time, and we ran out of fun activities in there after about an hour. Plus, it was freezing. Not only were the dudes coming in and out of the front door constantly (and it was all of, like, six degrees outside), but our furnace chose last week to try to die, and our space heater also quit. (Can't blame either of those appliances. I've never been so over winter in my whole life.) The upshot is, it was pretty chilly in the house while they were working in the basement.

Overall, I'm really happy with the work they did. Not 100%, though. Here's the breakdown:

What I love: 
  • How quickly they worked (8:45 a.m. to noon, finishing just before naptime, thankfully)
  • How much lighter, brighter, and warmer the basement is
  • That the gross insulation from the walls and ceiling of the crawl space is gone (it was super smelly and moldy, as I discovered while they were removing it...yuck)
  • No more zombie holes in the plastic ground covering; the new covering is thick, durable, and has a 25-year warranty

What I don't love:
  • The dudes weren't the friendliest (four guys total) or the most professional (inappropriate music blaring the whole time)
  • Subpar job with the floor grading - I knew it wouldn't be laser-leveled or anything, but the guy who came out for the estimate oversold their capacity to grade the dirt. I haven't actually walked on it yet, but it's not nearly as level as I'd hoped.
  • The random chunks of the old insulation they left hanging from the ceiling - not a big deal, but it would have been easy for them to double-check and make sure they got it all
  • The huge muddy mess left on the floor - they covered the upstairs entry area and the basement stairs with plastic, but not the floor in front of the crawl space. Between the snow outside and them standing on the bare earth to grade the dirt...well, it took five rounds of mopping to clean it all up. They warned me it would be messy, but it was more extreme than I'd anticipated.
  • The fifteen bags of debris (plastic sheeting, insulation, spider colonies) and twelve or so sheets of Styrofoam insulation they removed from the basement and dumped into/next to the garage. Again, they told me they wouldn't be removing the garbage, but I underestimated how much it would be. Not sure how to get rid of all of it!

Hard to appreciate the scale here, but these bags are too big to
fit even one at a time into our garbage can (pictured below).

Huge sheets of Styrofoam insulation just covered in spiderwebs and who knows what else. :(

The good news - great news - is that it's done, and at a reasonable price (made even more doable by some generous help from my amazing mother-in-law). Despite my recent motivation stagnation, I really am excited to whip the basement into shape and make it a cleaner, brighter, happier space. J.J. and I brainstormed and came up with ideas for the different "zones" we want to create:
  • Storage: Obviously, the crawl space will be the primary storage area, but we also need some easy-access storage for bins we use frequently. The Christmas decorations can be shoved in the back corner of the crawl space, but the boxes of clothes/toys that Rowan isn't quite big enough for yet - we dig through those often. Not sure if we'll just put them in the front of the crawl space, or if we'll keep the shelving units and utilize those.
  • Laundry/cleaning: It'd be nice if the area around our washer and dryer weren't so dingy and cold. Still, not much will change here for now, except for making sure that hazardous items are out of Rowan's reach (they aren't right now because we've never used the basement as a play area for her, but that's in the works).

  • Exercise/video games: J.J. has a TV, video game system, and exercise equipment set up on the old work bench. I'd like to make it a little more comfortable - and attractive - by adding a carpet remnant on the floor, and we definitely need to organize all his stuff. (So. Many. Xbox. Controllers.)

  • Tools/paint cans: Right now, all our tools are in an old bureau, except for a few bigger power tools that are stashed under the work bench. I want to move those power tools out of Rowan's reach...but I'm not sure where, exactly, that would be. We also have two entire shelves of our huge shelving unit dedicated to paint cans and painting tools, which all need to be consolidated and organized. I read a tip about transferring paint from the huge gallon cans to mason jars to save space, so that's the plan...but still, where to store them?

  • Rowan's zone: I'm thinking a little art table...some of her more bulky toys...and some open space for her to ride a little trike or run around doing her signature dizzy dance. 

  • Sell/donate pile: It's becoming clear that there needs to be a dedicated space for this crap, which I always think will just be gone with once it's sold or donated...but it comes back every time. Might as well have a home for it so it doesn't end up forgotten in a crawl space corner or infringing on the fun zones.

Clearly, there's a lot to be done! The crawl space alone still needs some work - cleaning up the ceiling and hanging cables, sweeping up a little bit of debris left behind, disposing of all the garbage bags and insulation, and then actually moving our stuff back in, hopefully in a semi-organized fashion. Plus, the tool bureau needs some love; I have a bunch of items pending sale on Craigslist; and I'd love to figure out a curtain system to block off the entrance to the crawl space. And a few projects are just going to have to wait for warmer weather - spray-painting a little table we have that can become Rowan's art table, transferring all that paint to mason jars, and participating in our neighborhood-wide garage sale in the spring to get rid of even more stuff (where does it all come from?). 

Overall? I'm so, so happy we got the crawl space done. I'm really hoping it helps keep the house warmer and cuts down on our pest population. The best part, though, is that it makes us feel like we have a halfway-finished basement. Yes, I know it's not actually halfway finished, but at least we're inspired to make the rest of the space better-looking and more functional. What's the point of having a huge basement if you're not going to make good use of it? Also, I'm definitely looking forward to not having to make the always-difficult tornado warning decision: Face the spiders and zombies in the basement, or risk loss of life and limb by staying aboveground? Oh, Michigan. The feeeeeeeling's foreverrrrr.

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