Basement renovation – part 3

The saga of this renovation continues to unfold slowly. Electrical work has taken forever and it almost felt like it would never end. We kept finding scary looking splices that were soldered and covered with electrical tape. Quite a few of them were not even inside junction boxes. Most of them were created from cutting old wires that were original to the house and installed without any slack. We had to add junction boxes and extra wire to bring everything up to modern standard. Besides correcting the splices, we also installed a gazillion electrical devices:

  • 22 recessed lights
  • 13 power outlets
  • 6 switches
  • 1 timer
  • 1 bathroom exhaust with light and heat
  • 1 heating panel
  • 1 thermostat
  • 1 telephone junction box
  • 2 ethernet outlets
  • 2 telephone outlets
  • 4 speaker outlets
  • 2 coaxial outlets
  • 1 smoke detector (hard wired)
  • 1 CO + smoke detector (hard wired)
  • 5 junction boxes
  • 25+ electrical boxes
  • 300+ feet Romex wire
  • ?? feet speaker / ethernet / telephone wires
  • countless wire nuts and staples

That’s not all the electrical work. We also hired an electrician to do a few things we were not comfortable doing ourselves. She took care of 1 splice, connected 3 circuits to the electrical panel, installed 3-way light switches, and a bunch of tidying-up around and inside the panel.

After most of the electrical work was completed, I proceeded to scheduling an inspection. This is a permitted renovation after all. My first attempt led to a whole new set of problems. Apparently, the combo permit I purchased is only the beginning of the paper trails. I have to file individual trade permits. I was so confused that I decided to take a trip to the permit office. That led to dropping a bunch more dollars for a mechanical permit (bathroom exhaust). I was also advised to schedule a consultation with an inspector instead of an actual inspection. The consultation resulted in a new laundry list of work.

Time to hire the pros

One of the big ticket items on the list was replacing the bottom plates of the existing framing. The old framing was plain old 2X4. Current building codes require pressure treated wood for the bottom plates. For a few of the walls, we don’t want a complete demo in order to replace the bottom plates. Our laundry area is on the other side of the bathroom. We removed drywall on the bathroom side of the wall only. We left the laundry area alone to maintain our sanity! Another wall is also in the same boat. We hired a contractor to take care of our problem. Besides a few punch-through in the drywall, the two guys did their magic in one day. I was amazed.

Back water valve

Back water valve

The other major work ordered by the inspector was a back water valve. It’s required for below ground plumbing. I was planning to hire a plumber for a few changes in the bathroom anyway. The back water valve just burned a bigger hole in our wallets.

We passed inspection!

We completed the rest of the work listed in the inspector’s notes ourselves, including rewiring the speaker cables. The basement was previously wired for surround sound with some fairly nice speaker cables but they are not rated for in-wall installation. If the speaker cables inside your walls are the kind that have clear insulation, those are not meant to be buried. The in-wall rated cables have solid color insulation and imprinted with some code starting with a letter C. The “C-something” is what the inspector looks for.

I searched high and low for the right speaker cables. I am sure there is plenty to be found online but I want to make sure I pick up the right kind. I finally located 100-ft spools at Radioshack. I later found out Home Depot sells 500-ft spool for $200+! Wholly smoke, I am glad I didn’t agree to hubby’s idea to wire for 7.1 surround sound.

Other remaining pieces of the puzzles were hard wired smoke detectors and rigid ducts for the bathroom exhaust. The ducts were a handful. The joist bay where the exhaust fan is located has a ton of electrical wires. It’s impossible to install a straight run of rigid duct from the bathroom to the existing vent cap. We ended up connecting 3 straight sections plus 4 elbows. It also required us to move a junction box for the dryer wiring slightly to create some slack in the wiring, i.e. much needed space for the duct.

After all of the above plus a bunch of miscellaneous work, I scheduled an inspection for framing, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical. Both hubby and I stayed home from work for it. It’s more nerve wrecking than taking a final exam since there is no way to study for an inspection except for studying all the building codes. When the inspector arrived, he seemed to have read up on our renovation from the permit application and the notes from the consultation appointment. He was fairly easy on us and approved electrical, plumbing, and mechanical. Framing was approved with correction. When we add a layer of foil-faced foam panels on top of the In-So-Fast panels to bring the R-value to more than R-13, we will have to install furring strips for drywall. It’s already in my plan anyway. I am glad the inspector agreed it’s the right way to go, too.

It is a huge relief to pass our first inspection. There is still a long way to the finish but we will get there some day!

2 thoughts on “Basement renovation – part 3

  1. How do the electrical boxes work with the additional layer of Iso insulation? You just mount the boxes so they’re sticking out of the InsoFast so that they’re flush with the Iso?
    Thanks! Considering InsoFast so doing research.

    • We glued Madison Electric Smart Box directly to the concrete. The box depth is 3.5 inch which works out well with the combined depth of the 2″ InSoFast, 1″ foil-faced foam and 1/2″ drywall. However, my concrete walls are not level. The electrical boxes didn’t end up perfectly flush with the drywall (this is even happening around the boxes attached to 2X4, kind of a common issue with drywall installation). I used plastic spacers and box extenders to fix that problem. The InSoFast website has specific instructions for electrical. If you use boxes that are not as deep, check out their recommendations.

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