every time we get close to doing major work on the house, we second guess ourselves. over the last couple of weeks, the same reason we thought digging out the basement in june seemed like a great idea is now making it seem like a terrible idea. my year-long contract will be up at work, which means i’ll have the time to manage a major renovation. but it’s a tough job market for arts grads — my current gig took me about six months to find — and we’re going to be down to one income. living on one salary for an indefinite amount of time and adding renovation costs… well, we’re starting to think it might be better to wait… some more.
okay, fine. but this decision creates a really big problem for me. our tiny main floor is done and the ground will be frozen until april. working on the house — as much as it’s been a practical use of my free time for the last two years — is also a hobby and my main creative outlet. and with work and school being about the same thing, i really need something to focus on that’s not rooted in environmental education. i’m spending 60 hours a week thinking about STSE, outdoor education, and climate change — what i wouldn’t give for the few hours’ distraction some mindless painting or planting (actually, no, not planting) would provide.
add to that the fact that we’ve shared 710 square feet of finished space (or less!) for the six years we’ve been living together — space that feels much smaller in the winter without the use of our porch or backyard and with the use of a christmas tree — even though we have an additional 710 square feet of space directly beneath us. yes, the ceiling is low and the floor is dirty, but it’s a whole other level of potential.
given that cabin fever is already setting in, i really don’t think i can let that level go unused for another three years while we save. so i’ve started exploring — donning goggles and a mask, pulling on wood panelling very gently… and, so far, what i’ve found looks good: no mould yet, the electrical looks great, i’ve even found some original brick to expose.
the plan is still to do the basement the right way — lower it, underpin it, waterproof it, drywall it. since that’s the goal, we don’t want to get too wasteful (with time or money) on a temporary solution. but in the meantime, we could get a lot of use out of our lower level if we invested a little bit into it. it’d be like “renting” our basement — spending a bit of money on space that we aren’t keeping, but want to enjoy for a little while.
the short-term plan is to create a guest bedroom, a living room, a storage area, and a nicer (cleaner) laundry area. we’ll save a bathroom, new windows, and heated floors for the real deal, obviously. i know it’s hard to imagine how this could be made into useable space. (i mean, look at this place.) but…maybe? i might fail miserably, but at least i would have had a few hundred hours in the next few months where i wasn’t thinking about curriculum links.