Basement Decorating Ideas - All manors of Basement Finishing

After starting a thread on the Pioneer Basement forums: Basement Decorating I went back through my files of emails to go through some messages from readers and from clients about attempting to decorate their basements.

People all over the world, and especially in urban areas like Boston, New York, and London have sent me questions about how to best decorate their basements. My first question:What do you want to do in your basement?After a moisture control system is installed, the possibilities are endless!

Home Basement Finishing has a great basement idea photo gallery to get the juices flowing.

My design ideas for a basement always tend to lean towards lighter, brighter, more reflective colors. This helps to bounce light further into the basement and thus, making it less bleak and dark. The main idea is to pick a color that you want to design around. (My family for instance really loves greens...I'm sure you'd find another color that you love).

Support piers can be covered up with a variety of different options. I decided to cover mine in a wood finish. I kept the column covers "square" to match the basic furniture patterns in the rest of the basement (no sense in having a Round object interrupt the sea of straight lines). If you're into more modern, round, or elliptical furniture and headboards then you might consider dressing yours up with a more traditional round lolly column cover. But like I said, your imagination is the only thing holding you back.

Copepods and Rotifers: West Hartford, CT Residents asked to Boil Water

Hartford Courant Story: MDC asks CT residents to boil water after contaminants are found

Needless to say: I'm going to bringing home bottled water for my mother this weekend. Read more about the details in the Hartford Courant Story link above.

"While they are not a threat to public health, their presence indicates a problem with the water treatment system, according to a statement from the Department of Public Health."


AP Article: Drug companies releasing drugs into drinking water

AP IMPACT: Tons of released drugs taint US water
another reason to pay attention to the EPA under their categories of "water"

One of today’s EPA tips: Appliance/Machine Maintenance

“Today's environmental tip: Proper maintenance reduces waste! Keep your appliances in good working order and follow the manufacturer's suggestions for operation and maintenance. Shop for products with high consumer satisfaction and fewer breakdowns. If kept in good working order, your appliances should last a long time and not end up as waste before their time.”

You can receive these EPA short updates by subscribing to their rss feed. I subscribed in order to keep a better handle on the issues in the community around Westport and also to keep a close ear to the ground regarding topics about ground water.

Today’s tip was remarkably relevant. On Pioneer’s Forums I’ve remarked numerous times that doing sump pump maintenance will save your money in the long run. I urged people to pick a time when their pump’s not running much, like the dead of winter, but more importantly before the spring.

I’m busy, as is anyone who’s working in today’s society, so it’s easy to get behind on maintenance for anything (I myself will own up to the fact that I’m over 5k miles on my next oil change…which I need to put on my calendar). But like with all maintenance it’s important to do.

Maintaining your sump pump or dehumidifier regularly (once a year) will increase the life span of the machine. It won’t make your machine immortal, but it’ll help keep it running smoothly and costing you less than a pump that goes without maintenance and breaks down often.

What would make it easier for you to remember to do a yearly maintenance?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll share mine in the comments.


Friend's Online Basement Inspection - My reaction, part2

Here are the rest of the images from the foreclosed home in NJ that my friend was looking at.

From the pictures I was able to draft up a "rough" (aka, not anywhere close to scale) of the the basement floor plan:

Because of the wood floor, my initial reaction was that that area was an addition with no concrete slab poured. I came to this conclusion A.) With the wood floor, b.) the akward end to the interior concrete block wall (see oil tank shot), and C.) from the mold appearing to discolor the wood floor.

All the images above can been enlarged by clicking on them.

I sent a reply email too him with the following information:

img_4577: Slight efflorencense left on walls
img_4578 - Furnece vent/chimney ash box - def' water damage, all that white power on the floor is evedence of direct water contact and evaporation.
img_4580- Pull that rug out ASAP!, the color changes in the image should be a red flag
Img_4584-4586: Mold coloring to wooden floors. Tear down walls and flooring. This basement has had water damage.

Telling by the akward paint job of only the first 2-3 feet of the walls, that tells me they a.) tried to dry lock only the areas that might have "been the problem" or b.) they're trying to cover up past water damage spots on the walls (see same color change in the Weight Room on all the finished walls). I wouldn't be surprised if that wood floor covered up and area of just soil. It seems to be an "addition" area because of how the wall suddenly ends at the start of the doorway.

1.) Past water damange
2.) Oil line from oil tank to furnace needs to be upgraded to above floor flex pipe with oil pump at tank. This line should also be insulated. This is a code issue.
3.) Remove any an all organic material: Rugs, wood, wood walls.

Demo might range anywhere from $400-$2000 depending on square footage.
Updating the fuel line should fall in the $300-$400 range
Depending on the linear footage of the basement properly waterproofing it could range from $6,000-$10,000

My Friend's Reply:

Yeah we have looked at everything. the main bathroom needs all the titles in the shower/tub wall replaced. and the roof is slate, looks good from what we can see in the attic, we had heavy rain the past few days and we went back to look at it today. it handled the rain well and there might be some leaking in the roof, but it didn't look horrible. kitchen is new.

the problem is that if we can't take a second mortgage then we will have no money to fix the place up, but we might try and negotiate with the bank and have them pick up the cost of fixing it and we'll tack that on to our asking price.

We discovered that this was an addition that they made to the house THROUGH the main wall of the house, so you were right that its probably dirt underneath the plywood floor.

Related Reading and Links

Read about the Top 6 Basement Mistakes that contractors and homeowners make.

Ask Jacob A question Directly on Pioneer Basement's Help Forums!


(EPA) Earth Day 2009: Green Buildings and Green Technologies on National Mall Washington D.C.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Earth Day 2009: Green Technologies and Buildings Bloom on the National Mall

(Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2009) On April 18–20, 2009, EPA will hold the 5th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo, which will display new sustainable or green technologies. More than 40 college teams and other exhibitors from across the country will show their innovative solutions for an environmentally sustainable future, including generating ethanol from coffee production wastewater, embedding small glass spheres in house paint to deflect heat in the summer, and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to maximize prairie switch grass ethanol yield.

The expo will begin at noon on Saturday, April 18 and will also showcase EPA’s Annual People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Award competition. Previous P3 winners have taken their innovations to new levels, including starting successful businesses.

Staff will post updates on EPA’s Twitter account throughout the expo: http://twitter.com/usepagov.

See the video from past years at http://www.epa.gov/p3/multimedia/videos/p3_07/index.html

Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator of EPA Office of Research and Development More than 40 student design teams and 40 exhibitors

5th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo and
People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Awards

Saturday, April 18 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Monday, April 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

National Mall between Constitution and Independence Avenues and 3rd and 4th Streets, N.W. (Federal Center S.W. Metro stop - Orange and Blue Lines)

More information about the P3 event: http://www.epa.gov/P3 Photos of the exhibits and teams to be posted during the event: http://www.epa.gov/P3/multimedia

Friend's Basement Inspection - My take on the images part1

So as I promised I'm posting up the images of some of the foreclosed home's basement. There are some minor cosmetic problems upstairs, but the basement is what drew a "red flag" for the couple.

Read about the Top 6 Most common Basement Mistakes.

He sent me the images through email and it was pretty fair to say that the basement had a very clear history of water damage. This was the first image that put up my "basement waterproofing inspection alarm!"

basement furnace and water tank area Now you might ask yourself "why such the fuss? It’s a water heater and a furnace. So what? I've marked the key factors in this next image to give you an idea of what I saw:

basement water issues marked Noteable Basement Water Factors
This basement had some glaring issues the majority of them can be summed up in this one image.

Thin Yellow: Floor discoloration, efflorescence

Pink: Water run off marks from the chimney ash box, possible cause of regional floor markings.

Green: The entire basement (as you'll see in the next post) has this 2-3 foot painted section along the base of the concrete block foundation. Drylock doesn't typically come in white (all I’ve seen has been the retro florescent 70's green color), and most people who use drylock typically cover the whole of the walls with it, not just small sections. My initial reaction was that this was a cosmetic fix to hide past water damage levels on the walls.

The rest of the basement has an oil tank and a small "finished" room, done with dry wall and wood. And as you all know by now, wood and dry wall aren't good things to have in your basement because they're mold food! yum. The weight room even has a rug in it...seriously?
basement gym, basement finishing project

Basement Gym Room:
Red circle-upper left: They seemed the drywall ceiling with duct tape..different. Looking on the floor there is also indications that the ceilings and walls have been "played" with recently..aka drywall dust.

Red Rectangle, back wall - two holes in the foundation with evidence of water run off.

Green Rectangle- Paint is pealing off the bottom row of concrete block, evidence of direct moisture/water contact.

Green Squiggly and Red Squiggly: Discoloration in the rugs at various points. The red has more of a darker tone to it, which might indicate it as being soaked/recent; the Green area has a definite square pattern, which might indicate floor cracks. However, that question of "floor cracks or not" is answered by this next photo taken of the corner to the left of the camera.

Underbelly of the Basement Gym Floor
Basement Wood Subflooring So...loe and behold! The underside of that rug is PLYWOOD! It explains the pattern found on the rug and we also find the possible source of the problem. Why? How? Well we'd have to lift that wood up to see what's going on underneath, but $10 says that there is a mold film or colonies living under that wood.

Visual discoloration at the bottom 1"-1.5" on the bottom of the wood pannels covering the walls.

Next blog will be the responce to my friend in an email form.

Related Reading and Links

Read about the Top 6 Basement Mistakes that contractors and homeowners make.

Ask Jacob A question Directly on Pioneer Basement's Help Forums!


Few Other Sites...I Find..yes

Being an active blogger and basement waterproofing advocate, I do take tours around the construction "industry" as much as possible, and this does include Blogs.

I've been having quite a hard time finding industry related blogs, but they're out there. (little niche hint encase anyone's looking for something to write about)

Stair Builders linked to Pioneer Basement Waterproofing a while back so I thought I'd go and check it out. It's a hogde-pogde of different articles and statements about the construction industry. It's worth taking a peek at.

Basement-Tips is another random site I found using one of my article from Ezine. Thankfully they used the edited version of it and it read the way I intended it too. A little link heavy, but some great links ether way.

I am happy to report after following him on Twitter, The Carpenter Confidential Blog is back out cutting wood and cracking out reviews and projects.
Spring is here and oddly enough I've been helping some of my friends regionally and nationally who are looking at homes. They've been sending me pictures of the basements that they see to get my advice before signing up for a building inspector.

I'll be writing on that and sharing pictures just as soon as "Anubis" gets back to me about using his photos;-) (I'm sure he'll say yes)