For several years, we ran the business out of our home. We took part of our large 24 x 14 living room and made an office out of 12 x 10 of it. In that office we kept our small collection. Our original rack is to the left and to the right was a few years later, all still in our home.
After doing this for a few years, a 'trusting' neighbor ratted us out to the homeowner's association. Lo and behold, we were breaking two rules. First was the keeping of any exotic animal and second was running a business out of our home. 'Running' the business out of our was a bit far-fetched since there was little to no foot traffic. We were, however, forced to move the animals. Our friends Boyce and Julie were kind enough to lend us their basement for 'a few months' while we put our house on the market and built a home. Well, that was a never-ending saga and we're still in that house. That 'few months' turned into almost 3 YEARS that we had temporary residency in their basement. Their family became mine and it became a custom to be over there on Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights. Here is a picture of us moving the animals from our house to theirs and then a shot of the setup in their basement.
Well, the collection grew and we definitely overstayed our welcome. All the while, that was 2 1/2 nights a week my family didn't see me. On Mondays and Thursdays it wasn't unusual for me to kiss my boys in the morning and not see them until the next morning. This was wearing on me and the family so we looked at other options. When we had looked into building our new house, I had this as an idea for a snake building:
Oddly enough, that's very similar to what I ended up getting. We scoured the area for office space and found the perfect setup that would allow us a workshop area with a big overhead door as well as a front 'customer' area with a store presence. We took 'ownership' in August of '06. For the FIVE months we worked non-stop on making this thign come to life. 95% of this work was between myself, my friend Brett, and my friend Richard. And let me tell you friends, we're not carpenters or master craftsmen. Considering, we did one heck of a job and it's exactly what I've wanted for years. Our facility has a front 10x12 office, a large 12x16 snake room, a smaller 6x16 snake room, a 10x8 bathroom, a 10x8 quarantine/wash room, a 5x8 walk-in incubator, a 12x8 rodent breeding room, a 20x18 workshop, and half of the place as a 2nd story where we can store our shipping boxes, Sterilite tubs, and personal stuff.
Not sure what the best way is to give a guided tour so I guess I'll do it by phases.
This is basically what we had done after the first day. My dad took the day off and helped me get everything started. From starting from scratch and being 5 years since I had done the least bit of construction (apart from the rack building), I was pretty impressed. The first is looking towards the two snake rooms and the second shows the 3 rooms and the making of a hallway.
This was by the end of day 3. Man, we're SMOKING. Walls framed and doors hung. Brett was there after work on Saturday and helped me the rest of the weekend. Kyle was there to lend a hand when we needed it as well. Left shows the hallways, middle shows the middle wall between the snake rooms, and the right shows the snake rooms (with the supply closet visible in the back right).
Spent 3-4 weekends putting rafters and sub-floor up. The whole area above this is totally walkable so it's all 3/4" tongue-and-groove plywood. That was an exhausing day getting up there and acting like monkeys. Once that was all done, it took 2-3 weekends of nothing but insulation work. I don't know HOW many rolls of insulation we went through but I bet it was 1500' or so. Every wall and ceiling is insulated. Snake rooms and reptile room with R19 and everything else with R13. Wish I had some pictures of just the insulating. This is about the time Richard came into the picture and he's the MAN when it comes to insulating, he did about 3/4 of the place himself. After the insulating came the walls/ceilings. I had a crazy hair that I was going to do the whole thing with OSB instead of drywall. I hate drywall dust, it makes me sick to my stomach. I bought grade A OSB thinking it wouldn't need sanded or filled in...boy was I wrong...more to follow.
One weekend all of my poker buddies came over to help. Stephen and Michael knocked out the stairway, something I was too much of a wuss to try (fortunately Stephen is a master carpenter compared to me). I mentioned the whole hallway deal to them and how much sense it would have made to extend it all the way down so that the workshop wasn't exposed to the clean rooms. They convinced me to do it. So with the walls from 'Phase 1' done, ceilings on, etc...we tackled another phase of the project. Which meant more framing, more electrical, more rafters, more sub-flooring, etc. In the end, best decision I made through the whole project.
Remember how I said I hated drywall dust. Well, the OSB looked like CRAP once you painted over it (the picture on the right shows what it looked like with just KILZ on it) so we had to spackle the ENTIRE PLACE! No, not just the cracks like we would have had to do if used drywall. No, every square inch of wall and ceiling had to be spackled...and then sanded. Even with a respirator on, I got sick as a DOG doing that. There were times I had 1/2" of drywall dust on the floor...gag.
To hide some imperfections, I textured all of the walls myself. This was actually fun as heck. Would have been about $800 to have a pro come do it. With my air compressor, I did it for under $150 ($15 for the gun, $10 for the hopper and about 10 boxes of the mix at $12/box).
After the spackling, we painted the whole place. Once the OSB got wet, different types of wood would start popping out of the OSB. When we pulled them, we were left with holes in the texture (you can see the white spots in the pictures above) so we decided to do one more concealment job (see below). It was also about this time that the bathroom finally got to Misha. It was semi-finished white drywall walls with concrete flooring (I don't have a before picture) but what we did to it sure looks nice for under $100. We put down thick self-adhevise tile, added a medicine cabinet, and put down a tall baseboard.
What we ended up doing is sponge painting the whole place (minus the bathroom). It's kind of 'busy' but it does hide the imperfections well. After that was all done, we laid down carpet tile in all the rooms except the rodent room and put linoleum down there instead. The picture on the left shows the workshop somewhere during/before this phase, the middle shows looking down the hallway from the front, and the right shows the corner of the rodent room.
From there, things kind of fell into place. We moved everything in December 28th I think it was although we were still working in the wash room and incubator. Above is the main snake room, the walk-in incubator, and the main hallway pretty much as they sit today. Just to mention, the incubator looks just like any other room but what's BEHIND it all would amaze you. Behind each piece of OSB is 1" thich poly styrene. Between each stuff is R19 insulation and there's probably about 4 cans of Great Stuff foam filling the voids between :)
After we finally caught up on the backlog of rack orders, we finally got some rodent racks made to try and get our selves at least somewhat self-sufficient with rodents. Our bill is usually over $500/month and making that payment and the rent is just too tough. The rack on the left was our rat rack and the one in the middle is our mouse rack. We also have a holding rack not pictured. On the right is our 'guard cat', Spackle.
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