It's official! After three years of searching, my wife and I have finally found a house that we both love and can afford. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Going into the search process, I knew it had to have a dry basement. That was something I wasn't willing to compromise on. It didn't have to be large, it didn't have to be a finished basement, but it had to be dry. That precluded a lot of nice houses that didn't have any sort of basement (who designs those anyway?) or houses that were listed as having a basement but in reality they were the first floor (split level homes: I'm looking at you). Then, subtract the houses we looked at with dirt floors, low ceilings, pipes everywhere, or horrible 90-degree access stairways and you don't have much left.
But, God had the perfect house for us and we just had to be patient. For three years...
Anyway, the basement is perfect for what I am looking for right now. It is large (26' x 36') for a whopping potential 936 square feet. That is almost as much as our current apartment! And, the house has a detached garage and a carport, as well as an attic, so I won't need to devote much basement space to non-railroad related storage. The walls are pretty clear of pipes and utilities, and the ceilings aren't too low. The basement is accessed by a straight stairway AND outside Bilco access doors, so my oversize lumber, machine shop tools, and live steam equipment can come in without problem. And, to top it off, it is bone dry. I really couldn't ask for anything better.
Oh sure, it isn't perfect. It has exposed ceiling rafters, but I don't have the money to install a drop ceiling so for now I will tack plastic sheeting all over the top. It might not look pretty, but it will keep the dust away from my models. Someday, if I want to install a ceiling, I can just pull the plastic down (and try not to ingest all that collected dust.) The walls are poured cement and blocks, which again isn't ideal for my dream set-up of shelf style brackets and standards. But, for now I will build stand alone benchwork until such time as I may refinish the basement. Since the entire layout will be sectional, it won't be the end of the world to move everything out and then refinish it.
At this point, it is just an open canvas for potential. I have an existing N scale layout which I will set up for now but I still need to figure out in my head where I want my modeling desk, my tools, my book shelves, etc. I do plan to paint the walls a sky blue soon to help make it more of a "layout" room. And, I just bought a large metal desk with drawers to use as a real, honest-to-goodness worktable. I am really excited about that, because now I can have a place to leave my stuff out and work on it at my own pace.
The biggest problem I have is that I cannot let this get in the way of having the ATC building ready for the competition in September. But, having a ready workbench will make it easier to come down every evening and work on the project a little.
My plan was to build the layout piece by piece and that is what I will do. Finances will be tight for awhile, but that is okay as I like to scratchbuild and am starting small. So, look out world, the layout is coming!
And in case you were wondering, we started signing closing papers at 11:00AM, we finished around noon, went to lunch with our agent, and by 1:30PM I was in the basement working on cleaning it up and taking measurements to make a scale drawing of the space (see above).