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Our one hundred year old house had a finished basement at several points in its history. The latest iteration included a dropped ceiling, a 3/4 bath and even an Oakland Raiders room sometime after 2016. However, at the time of our purchase it was moldy, damaged and partly gutted. Our project over the last two weeks has been to remove the ceiling and Raider room.

We discovered that the original century-old plaster and lath ceiling was still extant but hidden by the dropped ceiling. Someone had added the dropped ceiling to cover up the heating and plumbing pipes. But it also lowered the ceiling of the room by 18 inches. Removing it will give us a basement with an 8 foot ceiling! We also revealed the knob and tube wiring that still powers the house. Some of it had been added after the original ceiling was installed. There were wires running all over, many that no longer connected to anything.

Our biggest surprise was to discover that we had asbestos pipe insulation on our hot water heating pipes. This detail was not mentioned in the sellers documentation. However, instead of being upset about it, I just removed it. We suited up and pulled it out.

We then pulled all of the plaster and lathe ceiling work down, along with 100 years of dust. It was seriously nasty work. I wanted it all down in one weekend so we could be done with it. The three of us tackled it and got it completely pulled down. A dumpster will be delivered this week and we will spend next week loading it up.

Our new basement will have an industrial theme with a little steampunk bar area. All of the pipes and wires will be exposed and I’m leaving the ceiling bare up to the joists and subflooring above. It’s going to be cool. Trust me.

Inspiration, Finance Manager, and General Labor

My wife and I are looking for an old house to rebuild and found a 120 year old Queen Anne style house that needs some extreme love. We were able to crawl into the house by way of the fallen back wall. A newer addition had fallen and dragged down the rear wall of the kitchen. The rest of the house is in amazing shape. But what really surprised me were the belongings still in the house.

When people move out, even in a hurry, they take the important stuff like the good furniture, the family pictures, records, and books. But this house still contained good antique furniture filled with dishes and knickknacks, pictures of the family still on the wall, books, records, old bills, closets with clothes still on hangers. It was eerie, to say the least. In the front room was a hospital bed along with a cot in the adjacent room. Some elderly person had been cared for here in…I look at the calendar on the wall…2005. It all seemed much older than that.

But for some reason, they had left almost everything behind. There are personal photos in every room.

The creepiest thing I discovered was in the basement. A room deep in the dank dark dusty basement had been painted pumpkin orange. The rest of the basement was full of discarded furniture, clothes, and other belongings. But this room had been cleaned out and held an old single bed, a small table and single chair. It appeared to have been abandoned at the same time as the rest of the house. It just made me wonder what the family life was like that they would not only live like this but leave it in such a hurry.

In my experience when someone dies, the remaining family sorts through their belongings and disposes of the house and anything they don’t find a home for. But in this case, it was almost as if they simply walked away.

We are seriously considering buying the house as a project, a last home for us. If we do, I want to include pieces of the previous owners as mementos. Yes, that’s kind of weird, but I think there is some mystery to the house, and playing with it could be fun.

“Who’s that in the picture in the corner?”

“We have no idea. It came with the house,” I say with a smirk.

“What’s with Orange Room in the basement?”

“What Orange Room?” I say mysteriously.

Regardless of whether we end up taking the house or not, I got some pretty cool ideas for stories out of the process.