My Home Remodel, Part 6: To Basement or Not to Basement

One of the many benefits of our Thrasher system is that Thrasher comes to our home annually to test the system and the sump pump to ensure our basement stays dry. (Read more about the Thrasher system in Part 2 of this series.) During Thrasher’s visits in 2018 and 2019, the technician noted that the exterior basement wall that faces the lake we live on is beginning to crack because of pressure from the soil and high water table. My husband Bart and I knew this was something we eventually would need to rectify.

In September 2020, basement excavation began. Our daughter Clare loves machinery and enjoyed watching this process.

During spring 2020, when we seriously started talking about our kitchen remodel, Bart and I went back and forth about whether to construct a basement under the kitchen extension or just go with a crawlspace. My vote always was a basement because I knew we could use that extra storage space, especially with a young child who outgrows her clothes, shoes and toys faster than momma can decide what to do with all these things!

When the footings and block were placed, the basement started feeling real!

When Thrasher came to visit in spring 2020, our technician essentially made the decision for us: By adding a basement under the new kitchen addition, it would remove the pressure from the existing exterior basement wall (under the existing kitchen) and our problem would be solved. Plus, we’d get the extra storage space I wanted. I considered this a win-win!

Our contractor was kind enough to help Clare place her hands in the wet concrete of our new basement.

In September, our contractors were ready to start. My husband dismantled our deck so the basement could be dug. I should note, I truly enjoy learning about the unexpected discoveries found during demolition in retrofit’s feature stories. While Bart dismantled the deck, we found Diet Pepsi and Natural Light cans underneath. Based on the logos, the cans were circa 2002. Not really the “unexpected discovery” I hoped for but at least now we knew when the deck was built! Ha!

Our excavators made quick work of digging the basement, completing it in one day. Then the footings and concrete block were laid. Our daughter Clare loved watching all of this. She is fascinated by trucks of any type and especially loves skid loaders. When it came time to pour concrete for the floor, our contractor was kind enough to help Clare place her hand prints in the concrete for posterity.

By early October, our new basement was capped and we were ready to build a kitchen. Woohoo!

By early October, our basement addition was capped and we were ready to build a kitchen. And then COVID hit the state of Iowa hard. Our contractor got it; one of our electricians got it; our cabinetmaker’s daughter got it; and then my husband got it. One after another but not from each other. As you know, this slowed progress on my kitchen considerably. But—always trying to look on the bright side—this gave me more time to finalize my design ideas, which were in a constant state of flux. Once progress started again in mid-November, the focus was all about lighting—natural and electric. In part 7 of my blog series, I’ll cover the many ways in which we brought more light into our previously dark kitchen.

Read the previous posts in my home-remodeling blog series:

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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