With the demolition of the basement complete, we have started to put it back together again. The first step was to build new wall frames to separate the main room from the laundry room. Jim and I decided to push back the entrance to give the main room more space (and make the laundry room a little smaller). We are changing the location of the second room closet to be in the laundry room while also changing the location of the door. These descriptions will make more sense when the project is complete and you can see side by side comparison of the before and after. The main point is that we needed to build new walls.
Jim took off some of the days before Thanksgiving and did all of this work himself. He designed the wall frames and build them on the floor. A few of them he had to get creative and change it from the standard box wall frame due to objects in the way (such as the duct or piping). In order to nail the wall frames in place, Jim needed special masonry nails to go into the cement ground in the basement. The walls look great and it gives us a good feel of what the finished space will be.
Jim also tore down most of the insulation that was in the walls (we still have some to take off in the laundry room). We went out-of-town for Thanksgiving, so we had a little break from the basement for quite a few days. We tried to make up for it this past weekend and we were pretty productive.
Before we went out-of-town for Thanksgiving, Jim had someone from the Fairfax County Permit Office come by to approve the wall frames. This is normally done only after the electrical is completed, but the person Jim spoke to on the phone insisted that for a basement remodel, you needed to have someone out before you started electrical. The man who came out to look at the walls disagreed with that thought process, but there was nothing we could do about it at that point. While there, he informed Jim of something called “Fireblocking.” This needs to be down in basements because the wall frames are installed a few inches away from the cement blocks. With the space created between the wall and the cement blocks, there is a lot of air that would feed a fire should one ever break out. By installing extra pieces of wood that directly touch the concrete along with a sealant (called Fireblock), it blocks the airflow and therefore slows down a fire from spreading. We had to block every ten feet along the wall plus block between the wall and the ceiling. This meant measuring and cutting out pieces of wood to go in between each wall stud. Jim also had to nail each piece in. He was hammering up which takes a lot more effort and a lot longer. Then we had to put the Fireblock sealant in all the cracks and connection points. We only got about halfway done on Saturday but we luckily finished the Fireblocking for the main room (not the laundry room) by Sunday late in the afternoon.
Since we still had some hours left in the day (and a confirmed snow day for me today!), we decided to keep working after the Fireblock was complete. We have been working with very few lights in the basement since we tore out most of the electrical work during demolition. We have only been using the lights from the laundry room and storage closet as well as some plugged in flood lights. Electrical work is a high priority right now so it was worth working more hours to get some of it complete. Last night, we focused on setting up the electrical boxes for the outlets and new light switches. We also put the wires into place to connect the outlet boxes, light switches, and first of the recessed lights. We needed to drill some holes in the newly added Fireblock walls so we could feed the electrical wires through. The plan is to have half of the recessed lights on one switch and half on another switch. Therefore the lighting above the sitting area and the lighting above the gym area will have different switches. We are going to make all the lights dimmable as well. We made good progress with electrical yesterday and should have some lights working after another day of work.