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The Basement: Framing Frenzy

by - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We had a great old time at Chloe's birthday party but I wished we had the basement finished (at least drywall up and subfloor down) in time to do some party games down there. But we're still about two weeks away from that point and things are looking a bit more like this...

The framing is up! I LOVE this part of renovating when you really start to see the rooms take shape. You also start to get a feel of the space and walking through it, see the sightlines, the sizes of the rooms, how the rooms work together.

You also get a few surprises, like the one above. That's a bulkhead along the wall. A big one.

The striped areas show the two bulkheads we'll have in the basement. In the big bulkhead, we had two plumbing pipes that ran the length of the long wall, about 1.5 feet in from the wall. We could have spent the money and brought them closer to the wall, but there would still be a bulkhead so we decided to just create a larger bulkhead instead. Now that I see it in person though, its deeper than I thought and we're definitely going have to add in some potlights in the bulkhead so that area of the room doesn't feel low and dark.

The smaller bulkhead also presented a bit of a problem. See where it runs along the left side of the laundry room? You know, right where we have upper cabinets planned? Yeah. THERE. So we've had to come up with a creative solution. We'll see if it works out.

There's lots of good surprises too though. Like the nice deep window frames. The old windows weren't nearly as deep, but with the 3"+ of spray foam insulation and the new framing, they've become much more significant and a nice architectural feature. 

Its fun to see how the pros do their work and learn a few of their tricks. See that piece of metal strapped across the two floor joists? Our framer used it to secure the metal stud for the laundry room wall. Otherwise, the stud would be floating in space.

Now's the time too to make small changes which can improve things both functionally and aesthetically. Like framing for a 32" laundry room door instead of the 28" door we had in our drawings. Why? Because our laundry machines are 30" wide! Oops.

We're also adding blocking in specific locations around the basement. Blocking means adding in pieces of wood or plywood between the studs so that when you hang things like heavy art, mirrors or flatscreen TV's, you'll have extra support. Its a good idea to plan out your artwork at this stage for exactly that reason.

Another small detail caught by HandyMan and his architect's eye: lining up the bulkhead with the cabinetry. We have our cabinetry picked out and it turned out to be slightly larger than the bulkhead so we've asked the framer to bring out the drywall on the bulkhead slightly so everything looks nice and neat and intentional.

With the bulk of the contractor's work done, we've asked ourselves could we have done this on our own? The answer is a definite no. While we know how to frame a wall and how to do some basic plumbing and I'm sure we could Google and YouTube what we don't know how to do, I've been impressed how there have been valuable suggestions and sharing of knowledge along the way by our contractor Basement Spaces and his trades which ultimately will result in a better design.

Electrical comes back tomorrow to put in all the new lighting (wahoo!) and then plumbing and then the drywall goes up. Things are moving fast!!

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