The Basement Home Build That Kicked My Ass


While I was doing my regularly scheduled program last week on the Internet, I was busting my ass and at 56, I came to realize I’m not the spring chicken I used to be. That pic above is basically half the house, as foundation. Years ago, we turned the other half into a bedroom, entertainment room, and half bath. You can guess what part in this marketing video when it was a sought after vacation rental.

For years, I had thought about digging out the slope, under-shoring the foundation and making it flat. I ended up having a better idea that instead of months, took a week of ass busting.


And here we go.

First, you set your “line.”


Hang floor joists

The square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.


Go Pythagoras. Still relevant as ever.

Get the whole thing squared up. …Now, for the most astute among you, you see my evil plan. Rather than dig out the whole deal, I’m going to dig only enough to allow for a cantilevered deck surface. Four feet out there, backed by eight feet.


The evil plan gets more evil. The water heater will not need to be moved.


So now that all foundations, plumb, square and awesomeness are set, let’s build.


Pro Level.


Bea is so pleased she needlessly sweeps when I’m not even near done.


The next section, only 2-foot cantilever.


More pro level. Dig more, or shim?


Let’s get this project done.






I kicked my own ass. Wanted to get it done in like 3 days. Man, did I ever learn a lesson at 56. The pick and shovel required to get it even where it is was, was brutal.

Nope! Six days.

Ha, good lesson. Now, a week of seeing to my tender little flower, pink-pantied ass, I’m ready for the next deal.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Justin Watts on July 29, 2017 at 17:39

    Heck yeah, man. Love it. I’m glad my job isn’t one where I have to labor every day, but I do enjoy the occasional project. There is something satisfying about getting your hands dirty for a building project and seeing it through to fruition.

  2. Sassysquatch on July 30, 2017 at 04:34

    That’s impressive as Hell…….especially since I can’t drive a nail in straight. Had to be hard on the back though.

  3. thhq on July 30, 2017 at 08:49

    Looks like a good place to set up a Unisaw and start building cabinets and furniture.

  4. Dave on July 30, 2017 at 15:23

    Nice work….good spot for a grow operation.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 30, 2017 at 18:02

      LOL. Absolutely NOT the first to tell me this, nor explain the economics.

      Thanks for looking out for me. ;)

  5. Hap on July 31, 2017 at 08:10

    Perhaps this one reason to reconsider the fruits of “grow” operations

    LA Times just had article that California “grow ” operations vastly exceeding authorized lawful output. Excess going where?

  6. Nocona on August 1, 2017 at 16:03

    My guess is that you probably didn’t do your workout schedule as usual during those 6 days. If you did, the animal really has been freed.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 1, 2017 at 16:18

      You would be right, I did not. But Fitbit was logging 7-8 miles worth of steps, consistent activity, and averaging a cal burn +1,000 above my average.

  7. SteveRN on August 5, 2017 at 13:47

    Ha! Your last comment was the most profound for me. For me, one of the hardest things about getting older has been the loss of physical ability due to age/wear and tear. After 4 years of humping a pack as a grunt, then lot’s of years of physical labor, being strong had taken a toll on my back. I did not safe guard my health, just figured, I’m strong, I’ll pick that shit up and move it. That’s cool, till the day your back goes out at 35, moving a light weight desk 5 feet with a friend, and life is never the same again. For the most part, I am good with my back now, but, something as simple as jumping on a diving board will send a jolt of pain through the body. Which sucks, because kids these days have awesome stuff like those trampoline play lands that look fun as hell. The hardest one for me, was the partial tear in my biceps tendon. My own fault, my wife told me not to try and carry the removable back seat from a minivan myself. Well fuck that. Was she trying to say I was to big a pussy to carry a fucking seat. So I did what I had done a few dozen times before. Hoisted that bitch (the seat, not the wife) up over my head, and headed off. Went to put it down, BAM!! searing pain in the left arm. I was 45, obese, and I could not whip out 20+ pull-ups like I did as a young jar-head, but I could still do 10, and my strength meant more to me than I realized. Not being able to do one pull-up, that was emotionally devastating on a level I had not anticipated. Working in healthcare, I have come to realize, older men put themselves in the hospital, a lot, by not being realistic about the simple biological fact of the degradation of their physical abilities. The number of 70+ year old men I have seen come through the hospital doors because they were up on a tall ladder when they obviously had lost the sense of balance and leg strength to be astounds me. I am trying to start safeguarding and improving my body to keep myself as strong as possible as long as possible, but I am trying to be realistic about pushing it when I don’t have too. Being a first time home owner, I am starting to enjoy doing projects like you did here, getting dirty, doing manly shit, using my mind and making myself tired. But I also had enough sense to pay some young bucks to fuck their bodies up and pack and unpack the POD last time we moved. They were faster, and cheaper than being out of work for a week or more if I did jack my back up again!!

    Sorry, long rant, but you inspired me. The basement looks great, fine job you did! You have obviously picked up quite a few carpentry skills in your life. I wanted to get a house with a basement, but it didn’t end up happening. You have inspired me to threaten the wife with an attempt to dig out one under the slab of our patio home by hand, to one-up you. So far she has not taken my threats seriously, I am not sure why.

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