Removing Supporting Columns
As with anything, we need to start with a solid foundation to build upon, in this case... literally. Before I could begin throwing up the studio walls, I needed to sort out a few problems with the basement.
Firstly, the supporting columns that were standing in the way of an open studio space. The picture below shows one column left standing, but there were 4 of these!
As this was working with the foundations of the house, I wasn't comfortable doing any of this myself. I had a structural engineer come round to calculate the load and draw up plans for removing and re-enforcing. Some local builders carried out the work in a flash and instantly made the basement feel a lot more spacious, and gave me the feeling that this could actually work!
Studio dog enjoying the new space!
Leveling the Floor
The next step was to tackle the uneven floor, which you may be able to see in the pictures above. But I cannot stress enough just how much the pictures don't do it justice for how uneven the floor was. It was like someone had turned on the wave machine at your local swimming pool, while kids were bombing in at the deep end. There was no way I was going to be able to lay down any form of flooring in the current state.
I bought bags upon bags of self-leveling compound, that went 50mm deep, to cover the vast differences in height around the room. Laid out lots of buckets and water for mixing, kitted ourselves like we were ready to cook up some meth (at this point the basement didn't have any ventilation), and began mixing, pouring, and spreading to cover the floor as evenly and as quickly as possible. This process involved lots of sweating and swearing, but we were finally able to walk upon all our hard work...
... and decide that, as with all activities involving sweating and swearing, we needed to go in for another round. So the second layer was put down, and finally, a smooth, workable surface was found.
I have to admit that the floor is still not 100% level, as there's a slight lean to the back of the room, but this was a vast improvement and suitable for the flooring to be laid upon.
Next week we'll look at damp-proofing the basement.
Frank Leonard Walker