People say that after over a month of quarantine together, couples would have either created a new baby, or gotten divorced. 🙂 What about us, you may ask? Well, in our case, we birthed a new room!
Do you remember the utility room?
It has been two months since we turned our attention to the utility room. Last time we checked in, it was right after the plumbing work. Plumbing was really the last big task we had to finish before putting the room back together. So while I was outside digging dirt, someone was busy at building the walls back up:
Framing a utility closet
We have always wanted to box in the furnace and water heater. After our plumber moved the floor drain, we put up a dividing wall between the water heater and where the washer usually sits.
The floor drain is now located inside of the future utility closet. The final position of the wall left enough room required by code on the right side of the water heater and access to the clean-out on the sewer pipe.
And the cool thing is…this is not just your everyday framing – notice the void near the floor?
Floating walls are required when finishing basements in Colorado. Due to our expansive clay soil, it is common for basement slab to raise or sink. By attaching the wall framing above, on the floor joists of the main floor, the basement walls are now decoupled with the concrete slab below.
To prevent the floating walls from going out of plumb, a piece treated wood are glued and bolted down to the concrete slab. They are called bottom plates. Long nail goes through both the bottom of the framing and the bottom plate, linking them together so they won’t move in the horizontal plane. The bottom plates also functions as an anchor for the drywall to attach.
Above the utility units are multiple pipes. They are next to the air ducting which takes a big chunk of ceiling space.
We boxed all the pipe and ducting in with a large soffit:
With a 45 degree curve to soften the look:
Framing was added underneath the ducting, raising it as tall as possible for more head space below. It also allows drywall to attach from the bottom.
The new laundry nook and exterior wall
The utility closet wall naturally creates a nook for the laundry units to sit in.
You can also see the new framing on the exterior wall facing east. The new exterior wall was framed over 5″ away from the concrete foundation to accommodate the new sewer pipe as well as the R-19 insulation required by building code.
To save on cost the exterior wall, 2″x 4″ s were used in place of 2″x 6″ to frame the exterior walls. More importantly, it saves some weight hanging off the main floor floor joists.
Adding framing and a pocket door to the closet
On the opposite end of the utility wall, there is the basement stairs and closet underneath. We decided to keep the closet for storage as well as for better sound insulation. Inside the closet, we added 2″ x 4″ framing on the exterior wall.
And a pocket door for closet access. This door needs to be at least 30″ wide to meet the code for the electrical subpanel.
To attach the drywall securely under the stairs, we added strips of the framing under the stairs. It is interesting to see how stairs were built then – treads and risers do not overlap and there are gaps in between them. With the added new support the whole stair is more steady and less noisy.
Putting back electrical
After framing we moved onto electrical. The electrical work in this room was largely completed last year, including installed a sub-panel, wiring for the recess lights, wiring 20A lines for the master bath, and wiring for the laundry unit and a couple outlets facing the utility room.
The finished wiring was pushed to the side during the re-framing process and simply needed to be secured to the new framing. In addition, the subpanel was bolted onto the old framing.
Slav detached the subpanel from the old framing:
and secured it into the new framing.
Then we secured all the outlets to the new framing. The 2″ x 4″ framing is positioned over 1″ away from the basement walls, making installing electrical a breeze.
We did add a few more outlets, including one inside the closet and a couple on the stair wall. The installation was pretty straightforward.
Insulating the utility room
With the electrical in place, we insulated the room. We used R19 for the long exterior wall facing east, as it is a couple feet above the ground.
Being completely under the ground (and our garage slab), the exterior wall inside the closet was insulated with R15 batt.
We also added sound insulation in all the interior walls. Putting the sound barrier around the utility closet should significantly decrease the operation noise from the furnace.
The wall behind the washer and dryer got the sound insulation too. We should hear the washer less from the bedroom and bathroom now.
Adding sound insulation in the stair wall as well as under the stairs will hopefully reduce the sound from the kitchen and when using the stairs.
Now we are ready for drywall!
Drywall dust, I do not miss you!
The next day, the drywall was up.
Then the next three days were dedicated to mudding and sanding. I do not miss drywall dust at all! I am just so happy that we are finally done with drywalling in the basement.
There it is, the new room!
Remember the room before?
It feels so good to not looking at open studs again. Honestly, even I had rehearsed the whole design so many times in my mind and on paper, it still felt novel to see the finished walls in person. Yes, we got our utility room back, but it is much more than that. With the utilities and laundry units less visible, the room feels like a new addition to the basement. I am sure installing the closet doors and flooring will further enhance this feeling and give this room its own identity.
The doors and floors will be delivered tomorrow, and we still have a whole week before the stay-at-home order ends. It would be totally crazy to come out of the quarantine with a finished basement!
Alison, great job.