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Stairway leading up to the kitchen from the basement

This is how the stairs to the basement looked before I moved in. The door you see at the top of the stairs once had a pane of safety glass in it. Vandals broke out the glass, entered the house, and proceeded to trash the place.

What you see here is a door that has been secured with a piece of 3/4" plywood, two 2x4s, and four 2-foot long, 5/8" bolts.

Notice there is no handrail, and there is no wall on the right side of the staircase.

Handrail for stairs - a 2x3 mounted to the wall for fitting.

Housing code requires a handrail on all staircases. Since a "pre-fab" one costs over $30, I bought the straightest 2x3 I could find, and bolted it in place to the wall studs with the standard handrail brackets. You can still see the yellow lumber mill sticker (red arrow) on the end of the wood. After making sure the length and height was right, I removed it and milled the edges with my router.

Stairway handrail made from a 2x3 with a router and moulding bit - looks professional and matches the woodwork. This is how it looked after I finished.... I stained it with some MinWax stain and varnish that I found under the workshop table in the basement. The color matches the woodwork perfectly.
Patch in drywall and climbing rope used as stairway safety net

There were so many holes in the walls in this house, I had to write down the dimensions of the drywall patches on the walls (red arrow) we needed so I could calculate how many sheets of drywall to buy.

As for the lack of a left wall halfway down the stairs, I opted to do this "Picasso-ish" thing with some Kernmantle rope secured with eye hooks between the rafters and the stair joists (orange arrow). This way, we maintain a nice cool breeze coming up from the basement, and it will be easier to schlep big, long pieces of furniture, radial arm saws, sheetrock, rolled-up carpeting and what-have-you down into the basement.... and if you trip on the stairs, not only is there a very sturdy handrail, but a rope "net" to break your fall.


The rope net preserves the feeling of open space. It allows a much greater flow of air from the cooler basement to the upstairs (when an attic fan is used), and by simply removing the rope, the design permits huge pieces of furniture to be taken down (or up) the stairs, that would otherwise not fit, or have to be dismantled.

A punching bag hung from the rafters in the basement.

The prior owners had sons who (obviously) liked to work out on a punching bag. They took out one of the drop ceiling tiles and hung this thing by one of the floor joists. Needless to say, it's gone - sold it on Craigslist.

Droopy drop-ceiling tiles and holes in the paneling in the basement.

Thankfully, there was a futon in the basement, which was in pretty good condition.

The ceiling tiles were drooping because of the humidity, and because they're not the right ceiling tiles to use in a basement.

The previous owner had mounted a CD rack sideways on the wall (blue arrow), and there were multiple holes in the cheap wood paneling (red arrows).

The blue rug was dirty, but nothing a good shampooing wouldn't fix  ̶  to make due in the interim until we get around to re-doing the basement. 


"Living Room" space in the basement is more than adequate to accomodate a ping-pong table.

One-third of the basement space provides ample room for a regulation ping-pong table which was left by the previous owner. We use it to cut drywall and do other little projects. After that, it goes on Craigslist or in the garbage.


The workshop looked like somebody flung shit and didn't miss. The yellow arrow points out a light bulb socket hanging by the wires. The red arrows point out a series of holes drilled in order to apply termite pesticide (that's a good thing, provided the house isn't already eaten by bugs).

The orange arrow shows discoloration on the wall, which I presumed to be black mold. This microorganism is a homeowner's enemy, but it can easily be completely removed, There is an excellent article on WikiHow on eliminating mold, which you should definitely read, but in this section of the Web site, I'll show you how I did it.

The scuzz-fuzz was everywhere and all over everything in the basement. Outlet (left) and Mains sewer pipe (bottom photo)

What the hell ever possessed the previous owners to exhaust their electric clothes dryer INSIDE the house, is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps they were short on money and sought to save on the heating bill by "recycling" the heat exhaust from the clothes dryer (a better idea would have been to NOT run the electric clothes dryer and use a clothesline out back).

The "laundry room" space had an opening (vent) for the clothes dryer, which was plugged with a rag (green arrow). Although the dryer wasn't present when I moved in, I could tell there was an electric dryer there by the presence of a 220-Volt, 30-Amp outlet on the wall.

There is just one way that lint, fuzz, and dog hair (they had two dogs) gets up on top of the water pipes, up into a drop ceiling, and all over everything ‒ and perhaps that's how lint and fuzz got into almost all the electrical boxes in the house). Since the lint was also intertwined with cobwebs, it was exceedingly difficult to remove (cobwebs are essentially silk with sticky goo on them).

After all of that was done, it was time to clean up the workbench. This is a very nice workbench; too bad it was treated the way it was. It's not that I didn't contribute to the mess, but it was a cluster-fuck to begin with (see photo above). My next project was to repair the sump pump.


I threw out about 6 cubic yards of useless crap, and re-organized the workbench.


I scraped all the "goo" off the walls, and used all the leftover spray paint that was lying around to paint the wall which appeared to be growing mold, but was really Efflorescence. These walls will eventually be moisture sealed and insulated with R-19 in order to construct another full bathroom down here.



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Last modified: 05/29/15


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