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Welcome again to Saturday Morning Home Repair blogging, where we talk about fixing houses, the things in them that are supposed to work for us,  and fixing them up.  An ad hoc cadre of building professionals and gifted amateurs attempt to answer questions that arise from raiders, and offer encouragement and advice for those inclined to do things for themselves, if they can.  We all do a lot of things, collectively, and can probably help out with insights from our vast experience.

Or sometimes, we just drink excessive amounts of coffee and gab.

A 100-year old house always comes with challenges. Insulation, wiring, cabling....you name it, you are probably going to have to fix or upgrade it. In some cases, this means adding what the original designer never thought of - like closets. I have no idea if people a century ago wore winter coats year-round or never stocked up on stuff, but my house has only 2 closets; one in each bedroom and both rather small. A warehouse club membership is kinda useless if you have nowhere to put the mega-pack of toilet paper, so we got out the hammer and saw.

More below the Orange Galactic Outline...


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The basement is fieldstone foundation, which means it will always be too moist to finish. As such, just unloading the car to the downstairs would be unwise, and leaving 20 jars of pasta sauce on the counter would eventually lead to broken jars. So, time to build a bulk-storage pantry.

This structure was (more or less) already here when I bought the place. Raw, ancient wood boards falling off randomly isn't what I call a good pantry - not to mention the door fell off the first time I opened it. First thing was to add some horizontal supports, nail back in everything I could, put the door back on, and add a floor. What you see are ancient boards on top of a frame of 2x4's. I know wood shouldn't be directly on concrete, but this was the quickest, cheapest solution I could do. After that, a coat of Kilz 2 primer on everything (not worried about real paint; it's in the basement, after all), and on to making it usable.

Before anything else, I stapled plastic sheets to the inside of the pantry. Actually, that's an understatement; I attached plastic sheets with about 2 million staples to the inside of the pantry. I used an entire box (and wore out my hand), but I wanted to make sure no one rip would undo the entire sheet. The electrician was there at the time installing a light for me (during the whole-house rewire), and he thought I was out of my tree - until he saw the whole thing finished.

Yep, I over-built the heck out of it. 2x4's, angle brackets, rafter hangers and a million screws to build the framing for the shelves. Since the weight of canned and jarred goods adds up quickly, I didn't take any chances; I actually tested the strength of it by laying on one of the shelves. I have a thing for level shelves, so all the supports for the bottom one had to be cut to slightly different lengths; after that, the subsequent layers were much easier, and all level. The shelves themselves are melamine screwed onto the frame; although essentially particle board, the plastic coating makes it suitable for moisture-prone locations.

The shelving runs along the entire interior of the structure in a u-shape, which gives enough storage for not only a BJ's run, but also holiday decorations, comic collection, LP collection, file storage, and other miscellaneous stuff. The plastic keeps out most dirt and dust, and being raised from the concrete floor prevents moisture from the bottom. After all was said and done, I think the whole thing cost less than $100 (including electrician's light) - less than any one trip to the warehouse club, ironically.

The only thing left is to wrap the pipe at the top (it's for the 2nd floor heating, and gets dangerously hot), and fill in the gap of the plastic. Of course, this leaves me to wonder once again what the previous occupants did to address the issue.
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