Soggy bottom (floor)

File this post under: It could have been worse.

One day over the winter we walked into the basement to find moisture around the cracks in the basement floor. You might remember that before we moved in, we spent a few evenings sealing the walls of the basement. We didn’t touch the floors because there were no signs that water was an issue.

So what changed? We’re not really sure. Maybe the water table shifted? Maybe the manhole they filled in our alley caused water to back up. No matter the cause, we were getting more and more water in the basement each time it rained. Aaron set up a camera to confirm the source.


We needed help! A variety of quotes left us with a “for now” option at a few grand or a “make it right” option at several grand more than that.

Let me back up. I mentioned that we’re not tackling the kitchen as part of the first floor reno because of financing. The long story is that we always planned to refi the firehouse after 1 – 2 years to ditch the PMI and use the equity to overhaul the living space on the first floor (kitchen included.) Then we got totally screwed by our appraisal. Our mortgage guy said he’s never seen an appraisal that was so far off of expectations. And thanks to the mortgage crisis we had no recourse for getting a different opinion unless we wanted to wait 30 days (and risk interest rates increasing) then roll the dice with another appraiser AND pay for the new appraisal. The amount of money we could take out based on the (crappy) appraisal wouldn’t cover the kitchen reno, but it was more than we needed to cover the renovations of the rest of the space. It was an angsty night in the firehouse when we realized that our dream kitchen was further off than we planned.

After some thought (and maybe some wine), I pointed out that the thing holding us back from entertaining the way we want to isn’t the kitchen. The kitchen works. I can make some great food in that kitchen. What IS holding us back is the lack of a dining room and chillaxin space. So we decided to take all the money we could, focus on everything except the kitchen, and use any extra funds on a different project (maybe the wine cellar?!)

Fast forward to the water in our basement. The “make it right” quote equaled the extra funds we received from the refi. If that isn’t a “it happened for a reason” moment, I don’t know what is. While it will never be the way we WANT to spend money, it was a relief to know that we had the money to take care of the basement. We have way too many tools and bottles of wine going down there to worry about everything being ruined by water.

So, what I didn’t mention in the week from hell post, was that we also had a crew working to dig out the perimeter of the basement and install a weeping system that should keep us water free. It was one more thing during the week that had us a little on edge and kept Aaron super busy acting as a general contractor and new puppy warden. So many words! Let’s get to some pictures.

The crew started by jack hammering the perimeter of the basement and most of the landing. Then they dug two feet down to get past the footings.

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Weeping tile and corrugated drain pipe was added to direct any excess water to the sump pump. Then everything was covered with fresh concrete.

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So far, so good. There’s no water and we have a multi-year guarantee from the company that it will remain dry.

If you’ve been following closely, you’ll know that the basement workshop was supposed to be done over a year ago. Instead Aaron decided to surprise me with a living room makeover that took a bit more time and effort than he thought. That led straight into getting our fence and garage finished… which led into a vacation and prime wedding season… You get the picture. It kept getting put off. There have been many times I’ve walked through the construction zone that is the living/dining room and wished that the workshop was done. BUT I’m so glad that it fell down the list so none of that work had to be undone to fix the water problem. Now that the basement is sealed and the trailer is OH SO CLOSE, Aaron can (finally) turn his full attention to the workshop.