What Jeffrey Dahmer’s basement might have looked like… (By hipchickindc)


This is the third installment in a slowly moving saga of a full house renovation aka “The Adventures of Mark and Charles”. Previous posts can be found by clicking: Episode 1 and Episode 2 and Episode 3.

With a bevy of permits plastered to the front windows, activity at the Mark and Charles house has gone from a standstill to a whirlwind of contractors, dust, and noise. So far, some plumbing has been installed, and the framing for the walls on the second floor is coming along.

The framing is lovely and an exciting sign of progress to be sure, but I was much more intrigued that it appears that Mark and Charles are preparing to bury toddlers in their basement. Well, not really, but check out the pictures!

What is actually going on in Mark and Charles’ basement is preparation for underpinning of the foundation. This involves digging down a few feet at intervals and then strengthening the foundation at these spots.

Hopefully, more updates soon! More pictures after the jump.



24 Comment

  • How does this ‘strengthen the foundation’ do they insert something like a beam under the common wall or just dig a hole and pour concrete into it, wouldn’t that just support that single spot?

  • I am looking to do some basement work on my place. Part of it involved moving the crapy little bathroom toward the back of the house and rebuilding on in the center, tying into the main stack. I can do the work myself, but will the city let me? Or will I have to hire a friggin plumber?

  • JnDC:

    This strengthens the foundation by making it more secure in the dirt. Think of it this way: If you put a stick in the ground a little bit, it may fall over. If you stick it way down, it stays up.

    If they dig below the foundation, and pour cement to make the foundation stick in the ground a few more feet, it makes the structure a bit stronger. Some of these old houses have foundations where they are only secured by dirt on the outside, and not fixed by dirt on both sides…

  • ive been burying toddlers in the basement for over a year now, and our house has never been more structurally sound!

  • Steve–what the city can’t see, they can’t do much about.

  • Yeah – I thought about that, but a little voice inside of me is telling me do this one right. Don’t want to get screwed when I sell the place.

  • Oops…this is actually the fourth installment in this series.

    By the way, there was a partial attic at the front of the house and in order to extend that to a full top floor, the architect felt the underpinning was appropriate.

    Next installment will feature the raising of that top floor.

  • HipChick-

    Who did they select to do the work? Are they doing some of the work themselves?

  • HipChick-

    Who did they select to do the work? Are they doing some of the work themselves?

  • They have a general contractor and a whole bunch of sub-contractors, but they are doing whatever they can themselves and also buying/acquiring things like bath tubs (um, I believe they have one to get rid of also) themselves to manage costs. I’m sure they’ll be popping in here and can share more specifically.

  • Our hard working and trustworthy contractor Jose Lopez can be reached at:

    Jose Lopez
    [email protected]

    Actually Hipchic, it really isn’t a full top floor, it’s considered a “mezzanine”, which is 1/3 the size of the floor beneath it. Adding a whole new floor would have raised parts of the roof that would have ruined the look of the overall block–in that the turret would be out of sync with the rest of the houses. We just wanted to have a reasonable useable space that also allowed access to a deck.

  • Thanks again Hipchick–my family and friends love watching our progress via this blog. This renovation has been going really quick and smoothly with Jose as our contractor. My friends and neighbors have had such horror stories with their contractors. One person in my neighborhood is using a very good contractor that lives in the neighborhood and is a friend, but even that contractor has stopped work and is out of communication because something better came up. If anyone wants to ask about Jose, feel free to email me [email protected]. He has also been working on other peoples’ homes in the neighborhood who could back my recommendation up. OK, enough of this–I need to go shovel dirt into bags and find somewhere to dump tons of dirt–anyone have recommendation for where to take a lot of dirt?????? Oh, and does anyone want some experience working on a renovation?? We have lots of work for you:)

  • Where are the “W Street Lemonade” glasses?

  • Mark believe it or not, advertise the dirt on craigslist. You would be surprised at the number of people that actually need filler dirt although you might have to temporarily dump it in the yard until things warm up and people start thinking about their gardens again.

    And just FYI…Charles looks much better than Dahlmer ever looked.

  • it’s considered a “mezzanine”

    Pardon moi. And you guys can still call me Suzanne.

  • That is hard work…. I’ve been there.

    Would be interesting to know what they’ve found? I found multiple used condoms and a large hip joint.

  • Ha, we actually found a used condom as well, however it was in our backyard earlier today!

    A few months ago while we were tearing apart the ceiling on the second floor, we found some great artifacts throughout the house, they include: old books “Lincoln Remembered”, a 1930’s mercury thermometer still in its original case, 1930’s newspaper articles, old light fixtures, 2 leather coin pouches, an antique iron, early 1900’s medicine/pill bottles with its original pills inside and a piece of a love letter dated 1937 from the original owner.

    After exposing the brick on three floors, we have yet to find the cash that will help us with the rest of the construction!

  • Steve – if you are going to do the work properly (within the code), why worry about a permit, plus it will save you a few hundred dollars (on the permit). In DC, only a licensed plumber can pull a permit… and only a licensed plumber can request an inspection, which means you have to pay a licensed plumber.

  • So….is the headline just to get attention?
    I think Charles photo would be enough…

  • OK, who is the “hotchickfromwisconsin”??? Is that you mom???? LOL.

  • The cash you are looking for was found in old books in the front bedroom 7 years ago. True! The old spinster, Ms. Jackson, 103 years young, had stashed it there. I guess she felt that was safer than a mattress. It was only found when she died and some workers that were hired to clear out the house found it. They said they knew where to look for stashed money; books, coats, and clothes chests. The house was chuck full of antiques especially with china and kitchen crockery. There was even a 5 gallon crock 1/2 full with pickles. They still looked edible but I passed on that food tasting. There was a 1910 era victrola with a beautiful mahogany cabinet and a dozen records still inside dating from 1915 or so, mostly dance music. I snatched that beauty when it was placed out tin the alley for the trash truck. Maybe Charles and Mark will inherit that when I move. After all it is part of the history of their new house.( Joe, AKA Gladys)

  • You may find an old METH lab if you dig deep enough. Your house was occupied by on owner of an “after hours club” in DC a few years ago. They always had groupies coming over at 7,8,or9 am, after the club closed. That is when the partying started inside. They turned on a red light in the front yard lightpost as a signal that they were either selling meth or using it. They and their 2 Great Dane dogs were eventually evicted for not paying the rent. There were certainly come cuties coming and going. Lots of eye candy.

  • How did your underpinning go? or was it a foundation bench? I live on U St and I am curious as to how it worked out for you. I am thinking of having it done to my basement.

  • The underpinning went fine- not counting the grooling nights and weekends hauling dirt out of the basement and yard. As long as the house doesn’t cave into the ground, I guess I have to say it is doing well. I always wonder if it really needed to be done. It was really just for extra security.

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