The Sparrow | Basement Steps


January, 2021

Before: Courtesy of MLS listing photo...

In the past few days, we have gotten the bathroom demoed and ready for digging for the plumbing of the tub...but while we waited for the saw to cut the concrete, we got to work on another big project at The Sparrow...the steps! The current steps are SKETCHY! We knew that AT LEAST the stair treads would have to be replaced...they are skinny and have cracks through each one and definitely can't handle more than one person at a time going up or down them. Nightmare!

After demo:

When you come down the steps, the bathroom is directly to your right with an odd area that was originally closed in and used as a closet. I wanted all of the stairs and underneath the stairs open to visually make the space larger, and allow for open storage space of baskets, blankets, an antique metal cart with bathroom necessities, etc. The worst part of the stairs was the tightness of the stair well and how it felt dark and closed in... (I am super claustrophobic and can't stand tight places!) I knew I wanted to open it up, allow for natural light to enter, and make them safe.

We began the project by removing the white paneling that the previous owners had put up to cover the drywall and mask underlying ugliness and gaping random holes. We then removed the drywall underneath and treated for any mold and removed trash and debris.

When we removed the wall, it opened up the stairs, and also opened up the wall covering the laundry room hot water tank.

Previously in this basement, there was shag carpeting... yikes. We found this out because we found remnants of the carpeting along the sides of the stairs, and along the wall next to the hot water tank. After removing the carpeting remnants in the hot water tank room, we also vacuumed tons of spider webs and dust from 100 years of build up. All of the wood removed from the walls that wasn't damaged and didn't have mold will be used to build a bunk bed for the upstairs bunk room! Yay for reusing instead of trashing perfectly good materials!!

After doing this, we found a gas line that had been capped that had originally stuck out of the wall unnecessarily. Since we are planning on covering back up the hot water tank area, we didn't want that sticking out of the new drywall. We got Donald from Cox Construction to stop by and cap the gas line further back into the hot water tank room, and turn off the water so we could remove and replace the plumbing lines in the bathroom, and move them higher up into the ceiling so they don't hang down into the tavern/library once we begin drywalling. The metal line making an L down the photo below is what we got capped and moved back. The white plumbing lines and the white and red skinny lines will be moved further into the ceiling and not seen once the walls are completed.

After taking down the walls, and deciding on the design of the steps, we now plan on finishing the walls to cover the hot water heater, and move around the room to make a smaller doorway into the master suite once you move through the tavern library with a sliding barn door. Currently, there is a wide opening with a low beam, and no privacy for the master suite bedroom. With a smaller doorway, and a sliding barn door, it will make more of a separation for the master suite bedroom.

We have begun to frame out the doorway for the master suite bedroom, and frame around the wall to cover the hot water heater.

The photo below is before we took down the wall courtesy of the MLS listing:

The photo above is after demo was complete. From the photo, you can see the demoed bathroom to the left ready for sawing the floor and putting in the new plumbing pipes and tub, the open area to the hot water heater behind the steps that will be covered up with drywall, and the open doorway to the master suite which will be closed up to only have a single 40" doorway with barn door for privacy. After opening up the steps, the room felt HUGE, bright, and airy!!!

As much as I would like to keep the stairs open, code requires there to be pickets down each side to keep people from falling through, and stair kick plates so someone's leg doesn't go through and break. Our next step is finishing up framing around the doorway and hot water heater area, replacing the stair treads and toe kicks, drywalling the backside of the steps to clean up the look of them, installing pickets, and then waiting on the plumbing pipes to be moved to drywall. The final step will be to replace and fix the tiles that were messed up from demo.

On the outside, we have LOTS to do but have been waiting on weather that doesn't include ice, rain, and snow to do it! We plan to put up an additional fence line piece to put the trash cans up against for easy access for trash pickup and give more privacy to guests that want to sit on the front porch. We also plan to clean up brush along the fence line and pressure wash EVERYTHING! When we went to use the pressure washer this week, the hose was we had to wait on that!

I also would like to put down crush and run and gravel along the front of the house to minimize the amount of mud and dirt that gets brought in from walking in. Another big project is to replace the front gutter that was damaged by the previous owner, and make sure the pitch is correct to ensure proper drainage away from the house. Also, all the gutters are FULL of yucky that needs to be cleaned out.

Caught on the inspection was the rise of the dirt around the front porch on the left side. That will have to be removed away from the deck to insure that the deck doesn't begin to rot.

Needless to say, we find more and more projects each day, but after each day, we get closer and closer to finishing up our Circa 1929 cottage and allowing others to enjoy it like we do! We just hope people can see the vision we have for it, and fall in love with it! What changes would you like to see through this renovation project?

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Mill Pond Photography | Staunton, VA 24401 

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