Category Archives: Renovation

Basement work, part 2

With all the rooms gone, our basement feels much larger and more useable than before. But that’s not the only thing we had done to it. In addition to taking out all the rooms, we added a sump-pump and a French drain to deal with any and all future water issues. During out last storm I noticed that there was some moisture forming on the field stone foundation walls as well: probably good that we’re getting this done right before massive amounts of snow start dumping on us. Once it starts getting warm and all that snow begins to melt? Yeesh.

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We’ve begun work on the basement!

And what a project this is! There is a lot of work to be done in here and it’s not even that bad. In our previous apartment the basement looked like a set from one of the Saw movies, just with laundry. It was incredibly scary, damp, and filled with weird, old stuff. Our new one is still filled with some old stuff (including an ancient safe that we’re keeping even though it’s been drilled out) but it isn’t nearly as scary. However it had some odd rooms and rotting benches along with the windows that needed to replaced. The floor has seen better days as well and the back entrance could use replacing.

Essentially we want to make it a nice, dry and clean storage and laundry area for us and our tenants and that’s looking like it’ll take quite a bit of work.

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Electrical upgrade

Last weekend we had an electrician come out and upgrade our electrical service. Prior to that (and possibly going back to 1985), the entire house had a 100amp line split between both apartments at 60amps each. That doesn’t sound like solid math to me and our inspector told us that not only was this not up to code but we were asking for brown-outs, especially in the summer if both our tenants and us had air-conditioning units. Additionally, since we wanted to get a mini-split system installed (now delayed until next spring because it’s getting cooler), there was really no way doing that on this outdated service would work.

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I suppose our first project should never go smoothly

I figured all was going too well for our first major project. It’s better to get the difficulties right away so that there’s no future worry about when we’ll start running into problems.

So, yeah, the closet is gone and the wall’s been patched and painted but there are a few problems that we’re seeing now that work is “done.” First off, let me say that I still think it looks infinitely better than having the closet there. Seriously. But when you’re paying a lot of money on something you’re going to live with for years you want to get it right the first time.

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The closet continues!

There must’ve been some kind of communications snafu as we both figured that our contractors would be back on Friday to finish up the closet removal while I was on my way to Herkimer, NY to spend the weekend camping. Turns out I don’t think they ever showed up as it was in the exact same state as it was when I left. Of course this left us a bit confused. Luckily they came back today and finished much of the work this afternoon. As you can see from the picture, the plasterwork is finished and the holes patched. They also tore up the old floorboards and replaced them with wood that better matched our existing floor (though I didn’t get a good picture of that yet).

Plasterwork complete!

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And so begins the closet removal

Our house was built in the early 1900’s to our best guess. It’s got a fieldstone foundation and there’s even a place where there used to be a coal chute. The chimney in the center of the house has openings (that have been walled up) for a ton of rooms. In other words, it’s a typical house in Somerville, MA. Sometime during the ’50s it was turned into a two family (this is about where our various inspectors suspect anyway) and a lot of the work was done rather poorly. One of the prime examples is the addition of a hallway closet in our unit that turns a 4-foot wide hallway into a 2.5-foot squeeze. It was built really haphazardly with BX wiring, random switches and no light.┬áThere’s a weird transom that I didn’t get a picture of on top as well. It’s just gross, useless and we wanted to get rid of it.

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