We need roooooommmm! Basement remodeling decisions

I was going to write about my sister and how she’s really pissing me off by making my mom feel guilty and she’s passive aggressively dissing mom on social media. But when I started writing, I realized giving Julie that much of my time and attention was making me really, really angry. She’s crazy, and always will be. (And for anyone I know IRL who’s following Julie’s FB “health” drama, don’t believe the hype, and please don’t think my mom and I are not involved. We just know how this plays out because we’ve been there, done that, and we’re over it. Julie’s using and abusing the new BF and his family – they’re just too new to know who/what my sister truly is. But, hey, Julie’s getting a newly remodeled home out of the deal, so grossly exaggerating things and lying is okay, right?)

Ahem.

Let’s talk basements. The topic will still stress me out, but in a much nicer way.

When I bought this house, I really liked that the basement was unfinished. I’d seen some homes with poorly designed basements, so a large, empty, open concrete slab (with decently tall ceilings), was a selling point. Clean slate. Do what I want, when I want, figure out what works for the kids and me.

In the four years since we’ve lived here, the basement has become a four corner dump pile – storage here, kids’ toys there, stuff for a yard sale here, holiday decorations there. There are also about 15 large moving boxes STUFFED with packing paper, making a cardboard wall separating kid space from yard sale stuff. Organized but not useable.

Sure, the kids will play down there every once in a while. And I’ll run/walk on the treadmill (which can’t be plugged into the outlets in the basement, so a heavy-duty extension cord runs up the stairs – super classy). But it’s cold (no heat), and a little dark, and really not inviting.

Last year, I thought I’d get it finished, but, you know, cancer. (Damn, 2015 was a wasted year.)

Now this, THIS is the year: the kids are older and need more space – Lauren’s dollhouses and dress up clothes and babies are taking over the living spaces where I never intended toys to be (dining room, front room, living room, entryway, kitchen – girl stuff is EVERYWHERE); Ethan doesn’t always want to watch “Wild Kratz” or other Lauren-type shows and is at an age where he needs to have a little bit of his own time and space. And I’m tired of stepping on Legos when he spreads himself – and those damn plastic foot-destroyers – across the living room floor.

And, as B and I work toward merging our family together, more usable space is becoming necessary – a place where all six of us can (comfortably) gather, a place where he can play his bass and I can arrange/organize/use crafty and gift wrapping stuff.

I started getting bids for the job.

  • First guy: REALLY young (not that age is a big deal), ridiculously quick, didn’t seem super thorough, plans didn’t reflect some of the things I asked for, some of the design elements didn’t make sense (i.e., walling around the furnace and water heater so close that neither would be able to be removed should I have to replace them in the future), kind of got the sense he might nickel-and-dime me when things don’t go as planned.
  • Second guy (and his wife who is his design partner): straight shooter, super thorough, pointed out some things I should correct now (whether or not he does the job), his bid was about $10K more than I want to spend BUT I think he’d do an amazing job (and he guarantees not to go over the budget).
  • Third guy: walked him through what I wanted, spent half the time he was at the house talking on his phone to someone (I was upstairs; he was supposed to be doing measurements), pointed out stuff I should do now (like guy 2), can’t get me the estimate until he has his electrician AND plumber AND carpenter all come out separately – like “Hey Dude 3, what’s your job if you’re not qualified to figure this shit out?!”
  • Fourth guy: got his name from an remodeling referral service at a home improvement show this weekend (he was the only one of four names sent that had a website, and I’m leary of builders and remodelers who are not showcasing their work on the internet or social media), from his website he is really receptive to working WITH the homeowner on budget and design, GREAT phone conversation with him, he’s coming out tomorrow.

This is a CRAZY big decision to make. It’s a lot of money. I want it done right. I want it to feel like part of the house, not just an afterthought or nasty scary basement. I don’t know enough about remodeling or building or plumbing or electric or drywall to know if someone is doing a good job or not. I need to have full-faith in the person doing the work.

Guys 1 and 3 are out.

I like guy 2, especially his no bullshit attitude, but he’s expensive.

Guy 4 *might* be the answer.

Oh boy, adult decisions are hard.

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