I hesitated. We moved into this house with a finished basement about 40 years ago. When I pounded in the pry bar to peel off the first paneling I had mixed feelings. Real men do demo. Real men leave good enough alone. Which is it? Maybe my real man’s identity had nothing to do with paneling. Too late to turn back now. The Got Junk guys already took the first truckload of demo debris.
We tolerated the water coming in the basement since the week after we bought the house. Oh, the stories I could tell. Bailing water after midnight from the floor into the tub because the floor drain was not up to the task. Caulking this or that. Re-landscaping. Special paint. Heavy rain, lots of snow melt. For over 40 years, we had water seeping in the basement. Sometimes it flowed.
Signed a contract to get a drain tile installed. I have until mid-February to remove most everything within 5 feet of the perimeter walls. They will tunnel under the hot water heater. The basement has been used for storage for about 10 years now. A lot of stuff is stored there. Some things will stay but for the rest, several different charities will benefit. The remainder will go to wherever the Got Junk people take it.
The drain tile salesperson surveyed the amount of work that we were facing and asked why after 40 years of living with the problem were we dealing with it now. My answer was, “This old house has taken care of us for 40 years. It is time to return the favor.”
Returning a favor to an inanimate thing sounds cool. It is true, sort of. I actually sort of feel that way. However the real answer to, “Why now”, is actually I got tired of lying to myself about taking care of the problem, “someday”. Time to face the reality I am getting older and likely as the years continue to pass, our ability to take on a big project will diminish. Time to make the house meet the needs of the older people (us) who will be living in it.
I did not take another class at the U of MN this semester (travel, burned out) but one of them was to do something about “the basement”. So we are dealing with the basement.
Like it is for all people, the place we live is a part of our identity. I was very hesitant to allow people into our basement because I did not want them to identify me as a person who tolerated water seeping in with every heavy rain. Who had boxes of stuff from my adult children’s childhood. Who had boxes of stuff from our long deceased parents tucked here and there. Who had sports equipment that literally had not been used for 3 decades here and there.
So it is going to take some time. The first step is to deconstruct. Then fix the underlying water control issue. Then we will let it have bare walls and only a couple boxes of stuff stored in it while we figure out what a basement for a couple of older people should look like.
I have some ideas but what is next for the basement is still a blank canvas. I need a place for the workbench. We still want to store the holiday decorations. Maybe we should add a small bathroom. We will definitely increase the amount of light.
We have decided to add a small rain garden in the front yard. The rain garden will surround the basin which will be fed by the buried pipe the sump pump will discharge to. The salesman thought that was a great Idea. I did not bother to tell him I used to work for the water quality section of the MN Pollution Control Agency.
So the future of the basement is yet to be determined. The design of the rain garden is yet to be determined. One thing I know, right now, this old house does not have a finished basement.
What we perceive often depends on how close we look.