My ReStore Basement Renovation

By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County

Last January, my basement backed up with raw sewage, destroying a small den, our laundry room and a small bathroom – yuck. As a reader, you might say “what does this have to do with Habitat for Humanity?” Actually, quite a bit. 

When we were trying to decide what to do in order to repair our space, particularly in light of the slim insurance check we received, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County's ReStore became an instrumental part of the planning process. Because I had this resource in my community, I knew that I could do a fantastic job remodeling on a very tight budget. We were able to get a window, ducting, lumber, stair railing, light fixtures, trim, cabinets, paint, couches, an armoire, a credenza and so many other items from the ReStore that I saved more than $4,000. This made my project affordable and the end result beautiful.

The ReStore became a donation resource as well. In order to repurpose the space into a more functional room, we had to remove our garage and reconfigure the space. During the process, we had to be brutal about what we kept and what we let go. Many perfectly good items had to be sacrificed, but again, the ReStore played a prominent role in the decision making and planning. Things like my bowling ball, books, furniture, a window air conditioner, and knick-knacks found new purpose in being donated to the ReStore. Now, these gently used items are making someone else happy and leaving me with much needed space for a family room. Scroll to bottom to see before and after photos.

During the renovation process, I have to admit, I found a new appreciation for the families we serve in our Critical Repair Program as well. Throughout the insurance settlement phase, we found ourselves with unusable space for months. Our house is small as it is, and with the addition of four children, having an entire floor unable to be accessed was beyond frustrating. I can only imagine how some of our families feel when they deal with this for a long period of time because a roof leaks or the floor is unsafe.

The contractor that helped us do the work in the family room, laundry room and bathroom was wonderful, but after about two weeks, I was ready to have my home back. The work took more than 8 weeks to complete and the final result is beautiful, but it reminded me that someone being in your home day after day can be invasive, even when they are doing a good thing. Taking this lesson to heart, our Habitat team is working on ways to speed up our Critical Repair process and do the work in the least invasive way so that the families we serve can have a life while we fix their homes.

Reading this you might think, well she’s the Executive Director, of course she has access to all of these great items at her fingertips…but the thing is, anyone can do what we did, just by shopping at the store often, knowing what we might carry and keeping a list and measurements of needed items. In fact, when I was unable to find what I was looking for at the ReStore Montco, I visited Bucks and Chester too. Anyone can be a donor too – just bring your gently used items to the store from 9:30 to 4:30 Wednesday through Friday or 9:30 to 3:30 on Saturdays. If your items are too big to fit in your car, just call us during store hours at 610-631-3149 for a free pick-up. For more information about scheduling your free pick up please visit http://www.habitatmontco.org/restore/donatetorestore. ReStore Montco is located at 533 Foundry Road in West Norriton, just off Germantown Pike between Potshop Road and Trooper Road. ReStore Montco is open Wednesday through Friday from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Every time I look at my new room, I feel a great deal of satisfaction knowing I was a savvy shopper, but more importantly, knowing I helped families in need just by shopping and donating.