Monday, February 9, 2015

the news you've been waiting for.

Sometimes, in life, you make difficult decisions. You weigh the consequences carefully, you consider your options, and you breathe, meditate, and let the universe lead the way.

Sometimes, though, things just HAPPEN. Without deliberation or study or preparation. I'm thrilled to say that's the case in our home right now. 

We kept saying we weren't ready yet. We kept saying we'd wait until our money situation improved or Rowan was a bit older or we had a better handle on life in general. 

Then - today - I discovered that everything is about to change. For the better.

That's right, friends: We're getting our crawl space encapsulated!

A vision of our future - from here

I'm so excited for this new chapter in our lives. The crawl space is probably the worst thing about our house. Our basement is half-unfinished basement, half-open crawl space. I'm grateful for on-site laundry and a tornado safe zone, but ugh, that crawl space is no bueno. It's the bowels of the earth - and all their contents, like spiders, centipedes, mice, snakes, and zombies - covered up by a thin, ripped, hole-y plastic sheet. It's dark and dingy, with moldy insulation and sixty years' worth of spiderwebs hanging from the ceiling. It's likely the source of most of the moisture issues and cold air in our house. Yeah, it sucks.

As you can see, we do use it for storage currently - but primarily because we're running out of other viable storage room in the basement. And I sure as hell won't climb into that space to store or retrieve anything, so poor J.J. has to do it every time. Let me tell you, I do not feel good about storing baby items that can't be laser-sanitized (is that a thing? It should be) afterwards, like the Exersaucer. When the crawl space is encapsulated, it will be CLEAN and BRIGHT and perfect for storing all sorts of bins, and the guy assured me that none of the pets from the pet cemetery in the backyard can break through the protective barrier they'll install. (Is that weird corner of lumpy earth and big rocks really a pet cemetery? I don't know; can you prove that it isn't?)

Here's the thing: Before I left my job, the next big house update on our list was finishing our basement. It's not a half-bad space, and it has tons of potential to have everything we want in a basement: areas for storage, exercise, laundry, and play; no areas for things like an unmitigated centipede population, stray cats, and Jimmy Hoffa. When we were expecting Rowan, I attacked the basement in a fit of nesting and whipped it into shape, leaving it clean and organized.

But with a new baby, we ended up with way less time to stay on top of way more stuff. The whole room is disorganized, because it's faster to throw something into an existing pile than figure out a new pile system. Not only does it grate on my Monica Geller personality to see things like three- to six-month baby dresses mixed in with miter saw blades, extra lamps, and a ten-pound free weight - but it's also not safe for Rowan right now. Never mind the stray power tools and leaning towers of storage bins; I can barely even bring her down to throw a load of laundry in without her diving headfirst into this, our Growing Pile of Doom:

Not pictured: The pile that is literally behind this pile, or the piles to the side of this pile.

The thing is, we have so many ideas for what we want this room to be, but we're stalled on how to get there since we don't have the funds to finish it. If money were no object? We'd dig out the rest of the basement and finish the whole space, complete with a code-mandated egress window, a Pinteresty playhouse under the stairs (HA), and an uber-Pinteresty slide next to the stairs (HA HA). Well, if money were really no object, we'd finish the basement and build a master suite addition over the garage/off the back of the house, where we'd put the washer and dryer (HA HA HA). 

For now, I decided it'd be worth it to research DIY crawl space encapsulation, so we could at least make it a better space for storage. Last week, I called a local company that specializes in encapsulating crawl spaces...and offers free inspections. I made an appointment for today, fully assuming that I'd use the experience as a chance to get ideas for what to do when DIY'ed the project.

What did I learn from the inspection?

  1. The plastic barrier we have currently is way more torn up than I'd thought.
  2. There are freakin' sheets of spiderwebs back there.
  3. Mouse droppings. Just...mouse droppings.
  4. The previous owners did a shoddy job of installing low-quality insulation materials.
  5. Not only am I never going in that space myself, but the thought of J.J. and his dad spending days back there, hunched over and using leaf rakes to grade the dirt (and potentially leaving the dirt fully exposed for weeks in between J.J.'s dad coming out to help) made me actually, literally nauseated. DIY = no-go.
This may be the only time in the history of being a homeowner that I had a salesperson actually sell me his product. Every other time, I've just used them for their expert ideas, been laughed at when I shared my paltry budget, or gotten so annoyed with their smarmy, sales-y ways that I couldn't bear to sign the dotted line. 

And to answer your question - no, we don't really have the money for this right now. Still working on that piece. But I assure you from the bottom of my Scroogey, penny-pinching heart: This needs to happen, and it needs to happen with the help of professionals, and it needs to happen ASAP so I don't lose my damn mind picturing the sheets of spiderwebs swaying in the drafty crawl-space breeze. Basically, it's not cheap, but it was so much less expensive than I thought it would be that it felt foolish not to take the plunge.

So, as of next Wednesday, our crawl space will be so fresh and so clean-clean. It's motivating me to get the party started on organizing all our junk and tying up some literal loose ends (old clotheslines criss-crossing the ceiling, yards of landline phone wires wound around poles, wonky electrical outlets here and there). It may not look like my inspiration photo anytime soon...

from here
...but who knows, maybe someday!

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