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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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  1. Is that resilient channel I see?!  A perfect choice to dampen the sound between floors.  I wish we were able to do that but alas we decided to demo the crappy subfloor above instead of tearing out a perfectly good ceiling.  Everything is looking good!  Lining up the bulkheads with the cabinets is great idea.  Whatever looks the most intentional is best.  You'll have to find some extra short light housing to fit in the bulkhead itself though.  We had the same problem but a much, much tighter bulkhead around a metal beam.  The blocking is a great idea too.  I'm just not a big fan of metal studs.  I know they are quick and cheap but you can't alter them afterward like you could real wood and I don't know if a stud finder picks them up.  Remember all electrical has to be in conduit or otherwise protected when going through sharp metal studs.  

  2. Wow, it's coming along. The 'real' messy part hasn't started yet, but oh, how good it feels when it's all complete!

  3. We're just in the early days of our basement reno, and I'm still having the debate with myself of how much we can do ourselves and how much we're going to hire out. Looks like you have a great plan. Can't wait to see the project as it progresses!

  4. That door issue gets missed a lot - glad that was caught before it's too late. Love seeing your plans and look forward to seeing it done! It's going to be amazing.

  5. Thank goodness you caught that laundry door issue! 

  6. It's looking great! Love that you're embracing design obstacles and making them work for you. That's what it's all about ;) xo

  7. thebookofjimmy12:28 PM

    Framing is definitely exciting.  It's funny how all the sudden it's hard not to start decorating.  It's just so tempting to jump the gun.  

    Sounds like your contractor is doing a lot of thinking ahead.  That is such an important difference between the pros and the DIYers (of which I'm the latter): the pros see five-ten steps ahead, and know which pitfalls to plan for, while we are learning as we go and unlikely to think about those later details.  

    Re: the cabinet and bullhead problem.  Have you considered working some recessed shelving into the mix to sort of off-set the lost space of the bullhead?  Basically, because drywall walls are hollow you can build shelves into the depth of them, buying yourself 3.5" where you would otherwise have a wall.  You do this by cutting out the outside layer of drywall and building the shelf between the studs.  I'm jumbling the explanation.  This guy has a good video about it:

    You could recess a little shelving into the drywall on the side of the bullhead to take back some of the storage.  Doesn't solve the whole problem, but might help with thinking outside the box.

    Looks great!

  8. Auntie Shan12:28 PM

    oh, and "drywall" adds "10-pounds"! ;-D

  9. glad that you discovered some of the issues now and have them fixed already before the walls are up!  can't imagine the frustration if you didn't think about the washer and the door frame.  

    Thought about the bulkhead and cabinet issue too.  Say if you didn't bump out that side wall to match the bulkhead to the cabinet, could you have added a bigger trim at top to blend in the transition?  Just curious ... 

  10. Very useful indeed for home renovation enthusiasts and DIY beginners. Thank you.   Carpet Installation Toronto

  11. Always surprises in the basement! Looks great though and I can't wait to see it finished!

  12. Auntie Shan12:33 PM

    I guess it's too late to put in "pocket" doors for the Laundry Room, huh? Might've saved you some space.. Actually, have you considered "shutter/saloon" doors..? Oh, and best get that washer&dryer IN the space *before* the Door goes on! Maybe have it swing OUT rather than INto the soon-to-be-appliance-crowded room..?



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