My Horrible Basement

When my wife and I were looking to buy a house around eight years ago, we saw some nightmare properties. One was literally a drug den and I’m surprised we made it out of there in one piece. There was another significantly less frightening house that was merely messy, but its basement was in rough shape. I remember walking through the one path available through all the garbage and thinking to myself, “Man, when I’m a homeowner I’m never going to let my basement come to this.”

You get one guess as to what my basement looks like now, after eight years of near-neglect.

It didn’t start out that way. When we moved in I had high hopes of finishing it as a play-space for my son and a storage area for my Dominic Deegan books! And then we discovered that water got into the basement when it rained too hard, ruining several boxes of merchandise and our possessions. And then we discovered our oil burner / water heater liked to drip slow puddles every few months. And then we discovered the ants. And then we sort of… gave up. We push our plans to finish the basement further and further away, until it became this vague “we’ll do it one day” idea with no real plan. We put more and more stuff we needed out-of-the-way in the basement until it became like that property I so foolishly judged during our house search.

Now my son is eight years old and needs that separate space of his own. This past weekend we began to examine what it would take to clean the space we wanted to finish and were both horrified by the mess and ashamed of ourselves for letting it get so bad. I won’t go into the gruesome details but I felt a real sense of shame in seeing what had become of the basement. I envisioned myself a responsible homeowner but after cleaning up what we had to clean up this weekend… well, it turns out that vision was more of a delusion.

On the plus side it was a real kick-in-the-pants moment to finally get that plan to finish the basement out of its vague “one day” category and into a “right fucking now” schedule. On the downside, we could have done it long before we needed to be horrified into action. But these are the lessons you learn as a homeowner, sometimes the hard way.

We’ve got our work cut out for us, and it’s real dirty work. Does anyone know what exorcists charge these days?