Basement Project #3: Pack Rat—It's Both a Condition and a Solution

Pack it up!

 I’m a pack rat—I admit it-- but after starting this basement remodel I’m in the 12- Step program. I am a designer who didn’t take my own advice. Since I didn’t first purge or plan well I have moved items multiple times from the basement into the storage container, into the attic, the garage, and even my living room and then had to shift them again for various reasons. What’s worse is that I involved my husband in schleping these things around from place to place and he was hoping the remodeling process would not require his involvement. Ha!

Because most basements become gathering places for all those household things we need, think we need or can’t bear to be without the question to ask before a basement remodel is: What are you going to do with all that stuff?

First, organize as much as you can ahead of time. Purge unnecessary junk from your basement. Make a pile of items you don’t need anymore and invite your friends and kids to come and take what they want. Group like things together so you’ll find them easily later.

Throw out (recycle) those 10-15 year old cooking magazines you’ve been saving.  Recipes are on Epicurious.com now!

Protect the keepers from the inevitable dust and grime that remodeling stirs up. (Think dust cloud that mixing Portland cement with water is going to cause.) Find suitable storage containers when possible. Stackable clear plastic bins are ideal but even cardboard boxes work. Try not to have loose items; put them into something. Large heavy duty contractor bags work well for awkwardly sized items. Use that fun label gun to mark things so you know where to find them later. To protect any larger furniture pieces that remain wrap them in drop cloths or with the plastic tape that professional movers use. This all sounds logical, but it takes time and you really have to plan ahead to do it.

In my case I needed to move the entire basement collection out because a new concrete floor was going to be poured in the largest room of the basement and the foundation walls everywhere were going to be redashed so the workers requested at least 3-feet of accessible space in front of them in which to maneuver.

My temporary solution was to rent a Pack Rat, or temporary storage unit, for one month.  (Other companies with temporary storage units include U-Pack and PODS). It was placed in my driveway near the basement walk out and was filled after what felt like 50 trips up the stairs.

I highly recommend this solution but remember that the project will probably take more than one month to complete so the rental can get quite expensive.  (I ended up moving all the contents of the Pack Rat into the garage --ugh!)

If it isn’t feasible to move out of the basement, pack and stack everything in an out of the way location, keeping in mind where electricians may need access for adding new outlets and/or plumbers will run heating pipes off the furnace, etc. Cover everything well with plastic wrap and seal with tape.

Just remember that absolutely everything in the basement gets very dirty during the demolition and reconstruction process. Vacuuming and washing demolition dust from tons of items won’t be your idea of fun—especially when all you want is to just move into and enjoy your new space. 

Packed up? Now you’re ready to let the games begin…..


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