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the big organizing project 2009 for me

Posted by ronbre (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 7, 09 at 12:07

Ok ..we live in a home on a crawl space..the only access to the crawl space means moving an outside swing, taking up an outside trap door (and in the winter shoveling snow and ice to get to said door) and then removing board that brace trap door..removing steel door to crawl (standing in mud) and climbing through sideways into said crawl.

NOT COOL..being crippled up and old..i don't get in there..period.

OK so I have been discussing with our son the aspect of using that 2000 square foot plus floor space in the cement floor/wall crawl..he says down there you can't stand up..or even barely sit up..they use a creeper on the floor to roll around (the kind you use under a car) ..says HE can sit on the creeper in spaces between our beams..but that it is hard to get under the beams to the other side..you basically have to lay down and push.

OK..here is the plan.

We are talking about taking out a section of the floor in a closet..if it isn't over beams or wires or pipes..think the closet will work ok...take out a section big enough to get a step stool down into ..4' one..and then be able to climb down into the crawl from a closet trap door.

of course there is framing in a trap door..and making it easily accessible..

don't think that will be much of a problem..so i'm thinking that all of my underbed totes..that are plastic with rollers on them..could be shoved under those low beams off out of the way..and that taller totes with bigger things ..water proof of course but our crawl is basically dry except when we got a leak in our shower drain.

and then i figured we could buy some of those shelf units that come in boxes and slip together with cams..and stuff..and haul them to the crawlspace and erect them in areas along the walls near the trap door..and that we could put things like home canned food (which i do when i have a place to store it) baskets of fruits and vegetables..and also a shelf with cans of paint..i'm a fanatic..i always keep a can of paint to match every room in my house and outside..so i have like a couple dozen full size cans of paint..which are now taking up room in our house so they don't freeze.

we also have camping gear..which could be put in space bags..sucked flat and then put into plastic totes..like sleeping bags..and pillows..also tents and camp stoves..fishing gear..etc.

we have 2040 square feet of unused space under our house and i'm tripping over that stuff in the house and garage..what have i been thinking ?????

has anyone ever done this?? cut through their floor to put a trap into a crawl space..??

also it might be a place to hide if there was a tornado..maybe a few folding chairs and some bottled water down there..couldn't stand up but could sit down i guess.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

Wow..I have basically the same scenario and for a couple of years now have mulled over the same possibility! I've thought about using one of those attic drop down staircase thingies....the kind that are hinged and have a ladder. Of course the length of the ladder would have to be cut to whatever depth the crawlspace is, but it seems quite doable! One of the first things I would do would be have your son go under the house and measure the distance between the beams to make sure it's even feasible or practical to try to access the space from the inside of the house ( to see if the opening would be wide enough to be able to get a person through). Other than that concern...I think it's a great idea! You could even rig up some sort of pulley system so that you don't have to physically haul the bins and containers up the steps (or up a stepladder).

If you do it, please post pictures!


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I thought of that too but the drop is only about 3 1/2 to 4 feet at the most..which might be a little overkill for the crawl space..if we went into the attic we would need one of those..but just a step ladder in the trap door hole should work for the crawl space..it is such a short drop and i like the wide steps of my large folding step stool...sure footing...yeah ..Joel said he would go down and measure some time..right now there is snow outside where we have to get into the stupid crawl..no one even wants to venture into that mess.

the MORE i think about it..the more i want to do it..keep me posted JIGGREEN and let me know if you go through with it..i'll post on here when and if i do.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I wouldn't do this.

I have learned never to store anything in a place that is sort of hard to get to. I might as well simply throw it in the garbage.

Also, anything that is in there is simply going to be a place for vermin to breed, and it's going to be highly likely to get damaged. yes, I think even inside a plastic box.

Creating a better access to the crawl space for maintenance reasons would make sense. But not trying to STORE stuff down there.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

That is what I was thinking about putting stuff under the house. The house we build in CA has a 4 foot space between the dirt and floor. That is where the heat from the furnace goes and then comes up thru the vents. Not only do mice get there, snakes can also. Mice will chew thru anything, and also if a person gets too much and a fire happens it could be a real fire trap.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

It sounds like it could be very cumbersome to get to the stuff and in the long run not be much of a help in making life easier. I might be wrong. Only you can judge the difficulty in maneuvering down there.

Personally I don't want any of my food stuff any where except inside my house that is clean, temperature controlled and virtually free from any type of bug. I would actually be afraid to store anything down there. I have a crawl space under my house and believe me I don't think it's fit to store anything except tools or lumber. even though it's dry.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I live over a crawlspace. We had a few things stored there, like shutters we took down off our front windows and extra screens for windows. My neighbor said -don't use it for storage, things get moldy. I hads been tempted to store some fabric covered lawn furniture out of season. Nah!


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I wouldn't store things under your house. I don't know what state you're in, but when we lived in Michigan there was always the chance of moisture and that would ruin everything. Also, as mentioned above..what about mice and insects?

Don't you have an attic?? Seems like that would make more sense.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I would not do this. My job experience is that when occupants of a building start using odd spaces for storage...with good intentions...it turns out to be a dumping ground after a while.

It's not convenient space, "you can't stand up..or even barely sit up" as you stated. It sounds waaaay too inconvenient for me, and really not enough room to store much of anything at an entrance. I'm 40 yrs old, crawl in tunnels and crawls for my job & it's not that big of a deal when I'm getting paid, but I would simply refuse to lay on a creeper to travel under my own house to access my own stuff...especially stored things. That's just me.

Crawlspaces serve many purposes depending on the geography, region, and original intent of the building. Don't mess with them. Don't put things down there. Don't cut holes in your floor. Don't create a habitat for anything.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

Ronbre, our former house had a crawl space access in a closet floor. I had to empty everything off the floor of the closet to open the trap door - not very convenient. The furnace & the water heater were there, in what's called a California basement (an 8-ft square space dug about five feet deep & open to the crawl space).

While accesses to the crawl space around the perimeters of the house were well-screened, I did not store things there, partially due to the dirt & dampness, & also because that trap door was awfully heavy to lift out of the hole - it wasn't hinged.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I have taken into consideration all of your concerns..

I am not really a stupid person..

The crawl space is basically like a short basement..it is totally dry, has a cement floor and walls..and has heat...there is no mold and there is no dirt or water down there.

I would only put things that were in heavy duty totes that are waterproof and up off the floor in case of a possible leak..which would be very unlikely but can happen in any home..

i would only be using a small area around one corner of the home under a closet trap door.

the trap door would be on a hinge with a pully and I would not be storing anything on the floor there..as i have to walk there..

I wouldn't be storing anything that would be damaged by rodents or water or dirt..

I had a Michigan basement that was wet in our old victorian farmhouse..and it had a dirt pit built into it for a root cellar, to hold things like potatoes and carrots..it had shelves built into the walls for storing home canned food (which In Michigan ..you do)..

i kept vegetabls and fruits and canned food in the basement..occasionally we would have a mouse..but we kept traps and checked them regularly..

because that basement was wet and had a sump pump..we never stored plastic totes down there..but we did store things in the stairwell to it.

I am 58 years old this summer and have had experiences with basement and crawl spaces my entire life..as well as out door root cellars and underground tornado shelters and storage pits..

and for those of you who never have..i can see the worry..but I'm smart enough to not store wooden items or cardboard boxes or things like that in a basement or crawl space..


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I can see you are determined--and that some of the expressed concerns about spoilage may not apply.

I would just add my note of caution about using the storage space to avoid making certain decisions and keeping stuff that is really not even necessary. A couple dozen full size cans of paint? Hmmm--what about only one screw-top jar of each color for a few spot touchups? Do you really have 24 paint colors going on in your home? What's in all the underbed totes, that you need so seldom that you can put in this awkward area?

So, I would be ruthless in going through any thing that you're even thinking about putting down there, and ask, would you actually be better off to build some nice shelves, or re-vamp an existing closet, or something, for some of it, toss some more, and only put a few disaster/seasonal things down there, if anything?

I speak from my own experience--I've got access to my DD's closet spaces, except that they haven't completely moved out yet, and already I can see that my "expansion" into others' closets mostly represents delayed decision-making and keeping too much stuff--more clothes than I can wear; items I've upgraded or replaced but can't let go of.

Some items are potential young adult household items (small furnishings and household goods ) so I will keep for a bit, and then if one or more DD's move to apt and do not need, out it goes.

So now instead of wishing that I could really get into their closets and put stuff there, I'm beginning to see it is a blessing for them to still be using their spaces; let me stew in my own stuff, and take another look at what I was planning to put there and just pare down! If I do that, it will be that much easier to be open to new ways of living, downsizing when I need to, and just less maintenance all around!

Perhaps you will pare down some, even if you do end up putting a few items "down there"--give the same scrutiny you would give to keeping it in the house; try to avoid using it as a place to just chuck rubbermaid totes or expand your stuff.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

actually I DO need everything left that I am storing at my house..I have literally taken more than 2 dozen truckloads of things to charities after our house burned and we had to move..we have taken 2 walk in closets and converted them to storage..that is the problem..these items are in my way.

as for the cans of paint..they are here because I need to paint..but we don't paint in winter in Michigan..as my husband is not allowed to breathe in paint..

I have exterior paint for the buildings we are building as well as primer and trim paint for them..that is 5..

they are not all separate colors..just bought them cause I needed them..I also have to paint two rooms in the house..both will require 2 cans of paint..they are large..and i have to paint the continuous ceiling that is in our kitchen, dining, dinette, living room and 2 hallways..as it leaked and has to be reprimed..thus primer, and repainted..thus paint.

I don't hang onto junk..I do however also have enough sense to keep paint to touch up damage to the walls in jars so they are well sealed..and can be used..being an interior designer I know things will require repair and repainting eventually..things get dirty..dinged..broken..

and yes I have 13 different wall colors in my home..2 outside colors and 3 colors in my garage addition..that is 18..oh plus 3 trim colors for those areas..that is 21..so Yeah..I guess i do have a lot of colors..but I don't know why I feel I have to defend my need of all the cans of paint..when they are done and gone..then they are done and gone..right now it is 45 degrees outside..and i don't paint when my hands are freezing..can't anyway until it is 50 plus.

Michigan is a strange sort of place..we can't store our paint in our garage like normal people..or our battery opreated items ..or our chemical items..they freeze solid..and get ruined.

that is the whole reason for hoping for some non freezing storage that i can tuck things away I might seldom need.

and you say RUTHLESS...there is no one more ruthless about going through organizing and tossing than I am..as I said I was planning on putting the cans of paint, the tote with Christmas ornaments, and things like that..I have already given away or sold almost every Christmas item I owned..but i did buy myself new ornaments for my tree this year..and they are in plastic boxes inside a plastic tote..that is airtight..can't see where they would get ruined in a crawlspace..and not like i'd need to get to them more than once a year out and once a year in ??

also i can produce from my garden..a cool dry place is the best place to store them..as well as potatoes and onions and apples and pears from my pear trees..they rot in my house..they freeze in my garage.

so it is have them..or don't have them..it isn't a matter of where to store them.

i NEED the space.I am not planning on "expanding" ..but moving the things that can't be given away to a place where they are not IN MY WAY..or not rotting cause my house is too warm for them ..i can't keep potatoes over a week in my house..which is sad cause I grow nearly all my own produce, fruit and vegetables..but it won't keep..once it starts freezing outside I have to move the things inside..and then they rot as our coldest spot in our house is in the 60's..that is not COLD STORAGE..which I need..the crawl is much colder but never freezes.

I have 7 apple trees, 3 pear trees, 3 plum grees, 6 peach trees, as well as other produce that HAS TO HAVE COLD STORAGE..so yes..there is a method behind my madness...and also good reason for it..

it is either this or build another underground addition somewhere out side to store this stuff..and then have to shovel snow off to get to it..the entire point is to get to a storage area without shovelling through 141 " of snow outside in January or February.

i have given my son dozens of pieces of furniture..what i have now..i need...and it is not a lot.

i would actually like to clear the paint and things out of the closet so the closet can be a closet..rather than storage..and it won't ALL get used up painting this summer.

I have done the scrutiny thing ..that should have been obvious by my posts..what I think is obvious is people think i'm a ditzbob or something..cause I would like to have an extra few feet of storage in my crawl for seasonal and items that need cold and paint..is that so hard to understand????


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

Oh dear Ronbre. Please don't get upset or defensive. You asked a Q and you got responses & opinions.

If you're going to do your project, you're going to do it despite what the comments are. You don't have to justify or explain anything further or get upset. It's clear you've thought through what you want.

I don't think anyone things you're a "ditzbob", and no...it's "not so hard to understand" why someone would want extra storage. Please don't over-react. It's a message board. You never know what you're going to get.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

sorry if i seemed upset..i'm not..i am not even sure I will do this it is just something we have thought of..however..i am surprised at how stupid people think i am..go figure...you'd think after nearly 60 years of experience people wouldn't dismiss your common sense.


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

I think this thread is just another example of how some people post asking for advice or opinions and really just want you to agree with what they have done or plan to do.

so, ronbre, were you just asking for people to support your idea of cutting a hole in your floor and making a storage area?

I still think it's a bad idea, but if you're set on doing it good luck!


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

no, honestly I do appreciate the input, but i was amazed at how people evidently thought i was going to throw valuable things down on a dirt floor..which i didn't have..and had no intention of doing....it is a very nice crawl space..and I haven't made up my mind that I will do it..but i have extensive carpenter experience so I do know what I would be doing if i did..it isn't like i'd just be cutting a hole in my floor..blind.

I think your post is attempting to be cruel and I had no offense at anything that was said..just really was surprised at how it appeared that people thought i was stupid..and obviously still do....i did take to heart the suggestions that were made..no matter how far off they were from my actual situation..no offense was taken..surprise yes..offense no.


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ok to restate it

ok let me RESTATE this possible project..possible..
The plan would be to gain access from the house rather than a muddy outside access under a trap door in our deck under 5 ' of snow in the winter..to our crawl space...

ok gain access to the crawlspace being the MAIN idea here.

now we have NO acces in the winter other than crawling through mud and snow outside and moving a heck of a lot of stuff to get to the door..and I can't get in there cause i had hip replacemenht done and it won't do the gymnastics you need to get into THAT outside door..period.

2nd..IF we had access to the crawlspce from inside the house..we actually could get there..

IF you go under the beams it is very low..only enough room where you might want to slide something like under bed storage type containers IF you stored them down there..but nothing big.

SO IF we do put a trap door in the crawlspace..there will be an area that would be around the steps down or ladder or step stool..that would be about 4' high and about 8' between those low beams wide by however long i wanted to use..

This would be in a far corner of the crawlspace away from any plumbing or works..

it is very dry and very clean..there is no dirt down there ..

IF we did this I would put a few shelves against the wall where the beams are not low..and use it for storing paint cans..or some home canned food..this seems kinda logical to me..

and yes people in Michigan do store their vegetables in crawl spaces and root cellars and such..we are kinda backwards here..we would rather have a few bushels of apples actually survive the heat of the house or the freezing of the garage and be able to eat them rather than throw them all out or have to can eveything..potatoes and carrots and onions and cabbage and things are alway stored in cool areas in rural Michigan..us hicks..guess people in the big city don't worry about that as they just go to the store and buy there vegetables..we grow ours..for the winter.

Well right now i'm not able to keep produce in my house at all..unless i use up refrig space..and potatoes aren't good kept that cold..

so the little plan was to put a few shelves for some food and a few cans of paint..i wouldn't need them every day..I DO NOT DUMP JUNK ANYWHERE..let alone in a crawl space..i am not a hoarder nor do I collect insignificant things.

I would want a set of shelves for the paint cans..one small area for the christmas things (i can see i might need those to access 2 x a year???)

and then the one set of shelves right next to the trap door ..for some canned goods that i can at home and some produce..

would i just throw stuff down there willy nilly..no..might i figure out a way to put some camping stuff down there..maybe seeing as how my husband hasn't camped or fished in years but my son occasionally borrows it and he can go get it if he wants it that bad..a small corner about 4x4 in the room down there would suffice for that camping gear..i suppose..not like i'd be filling up the entire area with trash..and maybe I wouldn't even put it down there..but could.

am i stupid..nope..have i lived with a wet basement before ..yes.did i ruin anything down there storing it in the wet?? nope..but did store canned goods and produce in the proper areas ..my crawl however is dry as a bone.

we are up 4' on a gravel base off of the ground level area around the house and if it ever did flood that would be a real shocker..as it never has gotten wet here.

mold is not a consideration here..we have no humidity and no mold..anywhere..too dry maybe..too wet..not.

so i just thought I should restate the obvious..i was looking for better access and as long as you can get down there..why not find room for a few things that you don't need taking up space in the house..but you do need..not junk..stuff i would use..not often..but would use..and the food would be easier to access there than in a pit in the ground outside under the snow..root cellar ..etc.

I do understand the concern of the persons who have dirt floor crawls or open to critters..or moisture..or mold..and i appreciated everything you said and took it into consideration..

for those of you that have a dry basement..there is really no difference here other than the height of the ceiling..sure it isn't pleasant to have a low ceiling..but i can still get to things that are close to the opening..and my guys could get to the crawl space easier for maintining the underside of the utilities to the house.

if you have a basement..do you store things in it?? why would a short basement..be any different than one with 10' ceilings..other than the fact that you can't really stand up..i don't plan on walking around down there..just reaching for a shelf or a handle on a tote..from where the steps would go down..and if i did need to get lower..there is something i could sit on to slide over to something..sure a lot better for all of us than having to crawl through freezing snow, mud and 3 holes to get to the door from the outside..


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RE: the big organizing project 2009 for me

Please take this in the spirit which it is intended, which is only to clarify. You obviously don't have a lot of experience with Garden Web and don't realize that what you perceive as people thinking you are stupid, is only subjective response. In other words, people aren't actually thinking about you! (If only that were true, we'd have a much different, kinder society.) In fact, have you ever noticed how many times people ask a question, which only gets a partial response, or often no real response at all? It seems like GW human nature is often to first jump to reasons something won't work, rather than support someone's idea of why it could.

You obviously have reasons to consider this as your best option...there's no need to justify it. We all need accessible storage anywhere we can find it. What may not be ideal for me or someone else, may be your only option. Rather than seek opinions on the matter, why not come back here when it's done and tell us how it turns out? I'm sure we'd all prefer to support you on your success than be perceived as thinking you are stupid!


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