Basements, Home Improvement, Remodeling, Renovation

Finished Basement in Philadelphia


I got a call from a colleague, a plumber. “I did a little emergency work on this basement dig-out project for a nice family from Center City. Their contractor dug and re-poured the floor of their row-home basement, did a bit of hasty plumbing and framing, got a bunch of money up-front and then stopped returning calls. They’re understandably very upset. Would you meet with them?” I couldn’t help taking this project even more personally than usual. As a contractor, people give me significant sums of money and trust me with their homes. There is a great deal of responsibility inherent in that relationship. What an absolute bummer.

I brought my engineering consultant down to review what work had been done – digging out and reinforcing the foundation of a home is no joke. It turns out there was no underpinning in the exposed foundation, so that was our first order of business.

The planned bathroom in the basement needed an ejector pump to hoist the bathroom’s refuse to the existing sewer line. Although the contractor had started installation of the pump, there were no check valves or other needed parts in the system. I had the plumber pull the whole thing out and start over.

Once we took care of the existing plumbing and framing issues, the project went smoothly. The couple has a young daughter, so they wanted a rec room with the opportunity for office work. We built a new closet for their washer and dryer, a separate storage closet with access to the ejector pump system, a closet for their heating and AC units, and a bathroom with toilet, shower kit and sink.

We replaced both of the front windows, installed a dropped ceiling throughout, and built a custom staircase with open storage underneath. The remaining area we left open for furniture and playtime.

In the end, the client was very relieved. They finally got what exactly they wanted. I always shoot for thrilled but, after what they went through, I was happy with relieved.