Internet Home Repair Series: Finishing a Basement
#236- "The Eye Exam"
It Greetings, and welcome to the first edition of a new series geared towards home repair instruction for the unlearned and borderline retarded. Even if you have an apartment or live in your folks' basement, one day you will be called upon to build or fix something. Sure, you can hire those expensive contractors that cost $100 an hour and steal your wife's underwear, but who has that kind of money or frilly underwear to spare? Think of learning these lifelong skills as an investment in yourself, one much more comfortable than eating pennies until your stomach bursts into a copper waterfall.
I recently finished my basement over a 6 month learning period. Before I was a homeowner, Richard "Cousin Larry" Kyanka was kind enough to let me sleep under his deck and would drop scraps of food between the cracks for my daily substance. While this was easy living for awhile, his wife caught wind of the scam after she spotting me fighting over a bone with the dogs. Soon I was out on the streets, selling my body for Arby's combo meals and arcade tokens. My luck changed after I robbed a bank and bought a medium sized house in the less deadly part of metro-Detroit. There was only one problem with it: an unfinished basement. This was unacceptable.
For any laymen and children reading this, an unfinished basement is when you have the original concrete walls and wooden rafters on the ceiling with the pipes and wiring exposed. To finish a basement, you need to frame walls, install pipes and electricity, put up drywall, and drop a ceiling. This turns a musty, cold basement into another living area where you can put a pool table, home entertainment system, or even a replica of the Star Trek: The Next Generation starship bridge. That would be awesome. I would shave my head like Picard, ask my gay Romanian friend to play Data, and then pay a bum to act as Worf. I would use a soldering gun on his forehead for realism.
#121- "The Double Dipper"
But finishing a basement is no walk in the park, as I found out. You need to have a lot of equipment and know how to use it, as well be motivated to work really hard for very little monetary compensation. You will need friends to help you on such a large project. If you don't have any friends, forget about the whole thing because your life is worthless and you might as well just sit in your spider-infested basement on a beanbag chair reading fantasy novels.
Or you can do what I do: tell a bunch of illegal immigrants that you are taking them to a safe house, but then chain them up and make them pretend to be your friends and finish your basement. Once it is done you can force them to play-act The Next Generation with you. One can be Riker, another Wesley Crusher, and you can even poke the eyes out of another and stick half an air filter on his face so he can play the Kunta Kenta guy.
Now we will go through the easy-to-follow steps on how to actually go about finishing your basement:
1. Draw the Plans
The first thing you need to do is devise your floor plans. Measure the length of the walls you need to erect and then rent a CAD (Curious Android Demon) computer to print up some blueprint drawings. Think of this as your treasure map on a bold and dangerous adventure into the world of manual labor.
You need to carefully plan out each aspect of the project if you don't want to be caught with your pants down without a paddle. When I did my basement, I foolishly went on memory -- this is ill-advised, especially if you have multiple head injuries from rodeo clown work like myself. I forgot what I was doing and somehow ended up building a transdimensional portal, causing a large-scale invasion of Earth by a host of evil winged creatures. Boy, was my face red.
#657- "The Knee-Jerk"
You will need to acquire a variety of materials and tools for a job this large. The most important thing is the wood for all the wall framing. You would think that is should be in abundance, what with all the stupid trees we have around, but building lumber is surprisingly expensive. I found it to be much more cost effective to "borrow" some wood from my neighbor's shed in the middle of the night. Once the shed was all gone, I moved on the foundation of their house.
They were not pleased in the least after I pulled a key log out with my truck and the house came down like a tower of Jenga pieces. We shall see how my "hurricane Rita" defense holds up in court next week. Josh "Livestock" Boruff has agreed to appear on my behalf, wearing a fake beard and pretending to be an expert meteorologist with a lot of fancy charts. It's going to be a hoot.
You will have to buy or find a whole bunch of other crap besides wood. Here's a free pointer for you: if you accidently nailgun your hand to a 2x4, call 911 instead of removing the mentioned hand with a power saw to free yourself. It may make sense at the time, but only makes things worse.
Make a checklist to take to your local Home Depot. Just hand it to the portly man in the orange apron and he will gladly assist you. Remember, though, to never turn your back on him. Home Depot workers have been known to bludgeon customers with pipes and put their heads in the paint mixer. Or maybe it's just me.
Your checklist should include:
First Aid Kit
Beer (2-3 kegs)
18 month old Goat
#28- "The Banker's Dirty Secret"
For those of you who have never built anything before in you life, this is an golden opportunity to learn through experience and countless mistakes. Thanks to this update, hopefully you will learn from my mistakes as well. Prior to this, the only thing I had ever built out of wood was a birdhouse, but it was recalled after 8 accidental bird deaths and a ghastly fire. I also constructed a crime fort in a tree but it was partially destroyed by some evil firemen with their angry water cannons.
The first step is to cut your wood according to your drawings (see step 1) and then figure out how to work the nail gun so you can start assembling them into a frame. When I rented the nail gun from Home Depot, the guy working there said it was so easy a retarded child could use it. Then I accidently fired off a round into his face while fiddling with the safety catch. These things can be very dangerous, so always keep them pointed towards the sky, and not at your eye.
When you have all your wood cut and nailed together, use a level to make sure everything is even. Once you find out that your measurements were way off, hammer apart the boards and start over again. This will happen about 8-10 times for every section of framework. The next step is to wedge the frames into place so they are flush with the floor and wall. Once you find out they don’t fit as planned, prepare to wedge some scrap pieces of material to fill the gaps. Half of my basement wall frames are propped up with old milk cartons and Neo Geo game cartridges.
After all the framing is complete, you can move on to plumbing and electrical work. This is the really tricky part. Everything I learned about plumbing was from Super Mario Brothers, so I was extremely wary of man-eating flowers as I tried to cram myself inside one to get to the hidden coin paradise.
Electricity is just as dangerous. I ran all the wires from the circuits to the new outlets, but forgot to turn my breaker box off and I foolishly put my exposed penis onto some live wire. As my heart stopped for one minute and 43 seconds, I saw God before me. He reached down from the secret cloud coin level and stroked my 80s-style feathered hair. From that moment on I knew that he was my savior and that I would dedicate the rest of my life to propagate his Word and smite all heathens who oppose Him.
Have you heard the good news?
I call this step in the Internet Home Repair Guide the “Rally”, because sometime during or after the third step you will lose all hope in yourself and the project and self-destruct. This happened to me after I nailed my feet together for the second time, framed the stairs off from the room, and ate a whole bunch of wall studs that I mistook for Sno Caps. This is when you have to take a step back from the whole thing, drink a whole lot of beer, take some PCP, and listen to some Pantera. This will motivate you from being a self-loathing sack of sorrow into a kickass, take-charge handyman from hell.
Soon I was breaking boards over my head and throwing bricks around like it was going out of style. Just make sure you lock the basement door while this intense building period is taking place. One of my other neighbors heard the bloodcurdling howling and let himself in to see what all the racket was about. I ended up tearing his arm off and using it to play air guitar. The police eventually came, and had to shoot me a dozen times before I went down. My defence for that case is “Internet comedy sites”, and Livestock will testify as an expert witness on riddles and animal balloons.
#108- "HOLY SHIT I HAVE NAILS IN MY HEAD!"
Sometimes you just have to face facts. You would like to prove to yourself that you are an intelligent, capable man who can build sturdy structures out of wood and rock, and then go off with your buddies in a Ford truck to drink and hit small creatures on the road. You are just fooling yourself. This is the step where you look at the mess you have made and what a total failure you are in all aspects of life. It is time to call the professionals.
Sure, these guys cost a lot of money and make fun of your girlish frame, but at this point you have no choice. They will have to tear down everything you’ve put up so far and then start over, doing it the right way. Lower your head in shame and go upstairs to watch Veronica Mars while the sounds of manly labor drone away downstairs.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Internet Home Repair Guide. Next week we will take hard look at getting those weasels out of your gutters, and 8 ways to please your man. Until next time, this is handyman Frolixo signing out.
I want to get a little serious in my Daily Dirt today. A lot of things that are going on right now are really steaming my clams, like the war in Iraq, the current administration, corrupt politicians like Tom DeLay, and the unchecked pollution that is poisoning our air. Get ready, because I'm going to lay it all out for you and I'm not pulling and punches.