Monday, September 2, 2013

Basement Windows get a Makeover, part 2

In our last post, we talked about removing and installing the easier of the two new basement windows. Next up, the much more challenging second window!

Before: Window 2

But what did we discover when we started digging? A huge slab of concrete underneath the entire window! Why anyone would put such a thing there, we'll never know. But it does help explain why the flooding was the worst under this window: the water was just sitting on the slab, soaking into the rotting wood of the window frame.

The mysterious concrete slab

Of course, instead of just digging, this meant that we had to bust up and remove all the concrete before we could do anything else.

Removing the concrete pad.

Sayonara, concrete! 

The window after the concrete pad was removed

Once the concrete was removed, we could finally begin cutting out the windows themselves. As badly rotted as the windows were, they were still a pain to remove.

Justin cuts out the window frames.

View from inside.
Way more concrete than the last one.
Because the window is an irregular size and we didn't want to bother with a custom window, we decided to fill in part of the opening with cinder blocks and concrete.

Levelling up the cinder blocks

First layer in, mortar bed for the second layer laid down.

Window time! 

After: Window 2. Much better!

Next up; raised beds...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Basement Windows get a Makeover, part 1

Summer has flown by, and for the most part, we haven't done any large-scale house projects--a welcome break. But now it's time to delve into another project.

We want to avoid the flooding we had last spring, so we're doing a number of things to address it. To start with, we replaced the old, rotting wood window frames with new, glass brick windows. We also installed window wells where there had been none before. Sounds pretty easy, but there were a lot of steps involved.  

Before: Window 1

Cutting out the old window with a sawzall

First, we had to remove the old window and cut out the old frame.

Uneven foundation that had been hiding beneath the window
We discovered that the foundation wall beneath the old window was very uneven. As in, cracked and pockmarked. We'd have to fix that before installing the new window...

Forms to hold cement in place. Note the beginning of the hole for the window wells. 
...So we decided to add a layer of quick-setting cement.

Expand, foam, expand! 
To keep the concrete from running out the cracks we used expanding foam.

Does watched cement ever dry? 
Justin poured the cement and made sure it was level, then made sure if was dry before moving on to the next step.

Mortar, viewed from inside. 
Next, we laid the mortar bed that would hold in the new window.

After: Window 1. Ta da!
Finally, Justin slid the new window into place and finished mortaring around it while Brigitte stood on the other side, making sure it didn't fall inward and crash to the ground. No photos of this part since we were both occupied and Juniper was running around somewhere else. But here's the finished product! Doesn't it look much better?