bungalow versus basement

toronto bungalow basement

when we were first viewing our house, griping about how small it was, the seller’s agent (who ended up representing us in the deal, too) was saying that, if it was him, he’d just put $20,000 in the basement and move his bedroom downstairs.

(in the picture above — taken with a motorola razr so sorry for the graininess — pierre is standing in what, in fact, was a bedroom in the basement.) 

pierre was pretty anti-bedroom-in-the-basement, but this number stuck with me as this nice- and affordable-sounding alternative. especially as we started going down the second storey renovation road and realized the renovation we had planned was going to cost us upwards of 10 times as much as $20,000. which we definitely couldn’t afford — then or now (so it’s a good thing we kiboshed it).

unfortunately, now that we know a thing or two about what things cost, $20,000 is a laughably small amount of money when it comes to the basement of an old house. the real estate agent was either smoking something, or knew a guy, or knew twelve mexican guys, if he thought he could get our basement into sleeping shape for $20,000.

the real figure — somewhere in the neighbourhood of $100,000 on the high end — is only about 1/3 of what it was going to cost us to build a whole new house. so, while $100,000 is still a lot of money, it’s not a sum that causes us to lose too much sleep or brown curly hairs. and that’s how “doing the basement” became our new plan for living in the bungalow long-term.

after nearly three years here, with the main floor just the way we like it and the backyard coming along, we’re ready. not ready to take shovel to sand, but ready to start planning: talking to our bank, touring our neighbour’s place (“otto” dug his basement out two winters ago), and — jumping way ahead as we’re apt to do — sending each other links to green, enamel factory light fixtures

my year-long-ish contract with wwf will be up in early june and, while i’m hopeful i won’t be leaving then, i can’t be sure that’s not just wishful thinking on my part. until david miller et al say otherwise, i’ll be unemployed next summer. so that’s when we’re planning to get our renovation underway.

toronto bungalow basementtoronto bungalow basement

it’ll involve digging, underpinning, new windows, waterproofing, drywall and framing, installing a second bathroom, lots of painting, building a new mudroom, and a host of other things i haven’t let myself think about (dealing with mould? asbestos? clay pipes? all of the above?).

truthfully, none of this sounds like a ton of fun — and i’ve been scrolling through a few blogs detailing toronto basement digs that make things sound even less fun — but we really want to stay in this house indefinitely and doubling our square footage (to around 1350 square feet) will mean we should never feel like we need to move, even if our family gets bigger one day.

so this post officially launches the basement dig project, which will probably consume the next 18 months or so of our lives (you know, along with work, school, running, friends, family…). but at the end of it, we’ll have a master bedroom (or guest bedroom if pierre decides he still doesn’t want to sleep in the basement) that’s more than 7′ wide.

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