The real scary stuff was the mess of plumbing (and spiders) left by years of reworking and making-do. We told our plumber that we just want it to be to code, and to prevent issues down the road. We had a big cast iron stack that had corroded over time, so the drainage space was much smaller than it should be.
Removing the drain pipe seemed simple in theory. In practice however it meant about a week of heavy manual labour (that we may not have actually finished yet.. its been about 5 months).
First we had to get through the layer of concrete on the floor. We rented a concrete saw from lowes. It worked, but was extremely slow and made so much dust. You can see in the picture that we put poly over our stuff in the basement. We also put poly over the entry to the basement, but somehow the dust still made it into the rest of the house. Eventually the technique was perfected. We used a sledge hammer and wrecking bar to loosen the concrete, and then we carried the concrete out by hand.
Nothing is easy in our house.. We assumed the drain went straight to the road. It did not. This meant we got to break up even more of the floor. Yay..
Did I mention our awesome basement stairs? They're really great. They're about 2.5 ft wide, and at the top of them you have to turn through an even narrower opening (without impacting the venting for the guest bathroom that is very much in the way). This was super fun to deal with wile carrying heavy loads of concrete and dirt out in buckets.
After all that work the basement floor was about 75% removed. We also had to dig down enough so that the new pipes could fit in without too much effort. We decided that we may as well just finish the job so we can gain a few inches of height down there.
This project was painstaking, and it was not without incident. One day I got trapped in my office after an appointment. All our hard work had undermined the posts in the basement, and the floor joists were impacted just enough that the door jamb shifted. This wasn't entirely our fault though. The combination of the concrete floor that was poured and the moisture of the basement meant that the bottom 4-6 inches of the posts had rotted.
The day or two after my escape from the office Ryan got back to work. He dug some more (I think he really likes digging!), poured new footings, and installed new posts, and all was well with the world again...
Until the next disaster.