Monday, October 24, 2011

A Brave New Basement

The apartment that houses the offices of SXBNKR, Ltd. has seen many roommates come and go. Some have been party animals, others reclusive by nature. Besides myself (Mez) and the steadfast Heavy Metal Jason, there have been three other folks to pass through, along with a couple of couch-surfers.

Luckily, after our last minor housing crisis, Sex Bunker bassist extraordinaire Bert stepped up to the plate. After he made the back bedroom into an actual, livable space that appears as if it could be occupied by a human being, we set our sights on the basement.

Our Sonic Laboratory, or basement, had been serving us well for the most part, with one major flaw – flooding. For those of you not well-versed in such matters, water and electronic equipment generally aren’t good bedfellows. Water tends to hog all the blankets, and electronic equipment snores like a motherfucker.

Honestly, though, it was apparent that something needed to be done. With the addition of Bert to the menagerie, we found the motivation and manpower needed to take care of our leaky basement . . . or die trying.

First things first – clean up all the crap. And there was a lot of crap.

We also had some suspicions regarding a boarded-up door confirmed – it was indeed where monsters lived. It was suggested that it was actually the former front door of our apartment building, from back when street level in Pilsen was about six feet lower than it is now, but we all know that monsters are a more likely scenario.

After removing all the crap, we had to clean the basement. In order to waterproof, we’d have to apply a layer of waterproofing paint, followed by quick-drying “hydrostatic” concrete in certain spots, then another layer of waterproofing paint, then a layer of basement floor paint.

For the initial layer of waterproofing goo, we used roller brushes. It took a long damn time. Bert and I had purchased a five-gallon bucket of waterproofing paint and brought it home on the bus. While we initially hoped to finish the whole basement with one bucket, those hopes we soon dashed when we discovered how hard it was to paint an entire basement.

It took a long damn time, and a lot of damn white waterproofing goo. Of course, all that aforementioned crap had to go somewhere, and the drum riser in that picture up above couldn’t be taken out of the room without being torn apart. So we did the basement in halves. Here’s all the crap moved onto the first finished part so we could do the second half.

Jason was a major asset to the whole project – his gruntwork and handyman skills saved Bert and me from humiliation and failure many times. Though he would benefit from having a dry spot to hang out and play video games, Sex Bunker benefits a great deal more by having our shit stay dry. Here we see him not painting himself into a corner.

After getting the basement mostly white, we had to apply the “QUIK-DRY Hydrostatic Concrete” to add some extra water resistance to the seams in the basement. Jason and Bert applied the fast-setting crap outside, as well. The tub that the concrete came in boasted that it could withstand 2000 pounds of water pressure – there are no immediate plans to take the basement underwater, but I sleep soundly knowing that it’s now an option. The grey stuff all along the floor is the concrete, which was a massive pain-in-the-ass to apply.

Once the concrete was applied, we bought another bucket of waterproofing paint and rented a paint sprayer from the Home Depot. Unfortunately, this portion of the project was not as judiciously documented as the others, mostly because we were having too much fun playing with the power sprayer. Rest assured, it was awesome, and once we were done, the basement was white from floor all the way up the walls.

We had some friends over after we finished the waterproofing but not before applying the floor paint. The resulting disgusting off-white floor made us realize the floor must be painted. A coat of grey Water-Resistant Basement Floor Paint later, and our project was nearly finished . . .

Nearly finished because of all that aforementioned crap – there was nowhere to put it all, and it was everywhere. Musical equipment had been collecting in the basement for quite a while, and the collection of amps, drum pieces and general cords and wires was getting out of hand.

Our solution? We would create a storage room, built ourselves, right underneath the stairs. Then we could simply shove all the crap into a room, close the door, and forget about it.

This is where Jason’s carpentry skills came into full effect. He instructed us in making a frame, and how to attach it to the existing walls properly. This might seem obvious, but without Jason I’m pretty sure we would’ve ended up with a pile of lumber covered in a tarp.

All in all, it was a very successful project. We finished up mostly everything we needed to do (the door of the storage room still needs a knob – anyone out there got an extra doorknob?) and we escaped with only one minor mutilation!

When Jason left Bert and I unattended one afternoon, we foolishly tried to shave a half-inch off of a door with a handsaw. Stupid, we know. And now Bert has the scar to prove it!

After a trip to the emergency room, followed by the hardware store to pick up a hand planer, we managed to finish installing the door, just in time to throw a show.

So that’s the story of what I did this summer. $500 and a few weeks worth of work, and we have an awesome basement that’s ready to host some kickass shows. 2012 will be a damn fine year, I suspect.

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