Monday, March 10, 2014

The finished basement

Hello and welcome to a new week! Let’s talk about the weather, shall we? Cause I’m annoyed. We’re supposed to hit 60 today and then have a chance of up to TEN INCHES of snow starting tomorrow night. I. give. up.

If it snows we’ll be down in our basement – our favorite place to be! We finished our basement two years ago (I can’t even believe it’s been that long) and I’ve been promising a recap post since then. I am superfast. :) I’m sharing some updated pics of the space throughout this post as well, since it’s been a while.

When we were talking about if we wanted to go ahead with finishing the basement (we had lived here eight years at the time) we were trying to decide how we would have it done. To get a basement finished in our area by a contractor it can cost up to 50 thousand dollars, depending on the finishes. Most estimates we heard were in the 20 to 30 thousand dollar range. Friends of ours had theirs done (it was a bit bigger) by a contractor and the cost ended up at about $40K.

We didn’t want to spend that much. :) So instead of using a contractor that oversaw the whole project, we used a few local guys who own their own small company. Overall I have found that the “smaller” guys can do the same services, at great quality, for sometimes half the price. Recently we even switched our heating and cooling company to a smaller, local company and have been incredibly pleased. I’m NOT saying the big guys are bad. We’ve just had great experiences with smaller businesses for the projects we’ve done. I would use a bigger company in a heartbeat for other projects.

I became the contractor in a way, overseeing the whole thing. I think we ended up saving at least ten thousand bucks by doing so. A few of you asked if I could have finished our basement. Could I? Yes, probably. Would I? No -- I’m one person and it would have taken me about ten years. And that’s a low estimate. :)

I worked with the guys and figured out a game plan – the timing of things is pretty self explanatory – framing, plumbing and electrical, drywall, trim and doors, carpet, etc.

honored tradition mohawk carpet

So to spread out the cost (we paid cash for the entire project), we broke each big step down monthly. Framing was in February and that involved a little bit of electrical too – we started with framing out the storage room so we could have a dedicated breaker box put in for the basement. Later we had the rest of the basement framed out as well. The total cost for framing (and that little bit of electrical) was $3300.

The basement is about 900 square feet and we wanted to have a HUGE family/play room as the main area, so that takes up about two thirds of the space:

bright finished basement

This is a partial basement for our house and it was “free” when we built. We had a bonus from the builder so we used that towards the partial basement. BEST decision ever. The full would have added about 300 square feet that would have been nice, but we really don’t need it.

A few details about this space – we went with eight foot ceilings because I about choked when I saw the cost to dig one foot deeper. Now I kind of wish we would have just done it but the height doesn’t really bother me. We didn’t add windows on purpose – it freaked me out to have windows down there, simple as that. :)

The next month we tackled plumbing and electrical and with the help of the professionals I figured out a lighting plan. I wanted a TON of light -- I never wanted it to feel dark down there unless we wanted it too. We ended up adding 28 overhead lights. (One we don’t use because we changed the floor plan a bit.) I added dimmers to almost all of them so we can turn it down when watching movies.

We had the bathroom roughed in when we built so there was a little bit of work to get that set up. We also added plumbing to move our washer and dryer down there and a kitchenette sink. Total cost for plumbing and electrical: $2,000.

basement lighting

That fireplace “cubby” is a future project. Very excited about it!

Speaking of fireplaces – let’s talk about the temperature. We did not have the walls insulated (we were told it wouldn’t help with temperatures much), but did have the ceilings all insulated. This was mostly for sound control – we barely hear people walking around above when we’re down there and it really does help with the sound when the kiddo and his friends are playing the drums. :) I cut two holes in our duct work and installed vents myself before the drywall was done. It was not an easy job – cutting that stuff is no joke. I wish I would have added one more vent in hindsight.

It is a little chillier down there, but we just turn on that fireplace and it’s toasty in no time. Sometimes we have to turn it off because it gets too warm. And in the summer the slightly cooler basement feels amazing. basement kitchenette

Next up was the drywall, which we hired out another small company to do. When you work with small contractors they know other small contractors and it definitely helps with the cost.

All the ceilings and walls were put up, taped, mudded and sanded in April and the total cost was $2000.

bright basement

By the way, the popcorn bowl wasn’t staging – I was actually eating it. The whole bowl. By myself.

Before the carpet was installed the whole space was painted – we used regular flat paint as the primer and ceiling paint and then I painted the whole space with Marina Gray (more on the other colors and details here):

black interior doors

I painted the doors black last January and love them!

The bathroom straight ahead is this one: bright basement bathroom

This was finished out much later, about a year after the basement was finished – the only part we had installed during the finishing process was the shower.

That back area is hubby’s office and storage on one side and the laundry room and a bigger storage room on the other:

basement laundry

I’m still working on this space and figuring out more storage in there. I gotta say – we LOVE having the laundry down here. It’s SO much better than where it was before. It’s glorious having a dedicated space for doing laundry, I truly love it.

The final piece of the puzzle was trim and doors and carpet. The doors and installation were about $1000. We had the laundry doors done special order because I made that door way bigger – 36 inches wide – so we could easily walk in with baskets in our hands. I didn’t want a big three foot door swinging out and taking up space in either space so we went with the two doors instead. Love them. Still need to put hardware on them. :)

I installed all the baseboards – they are taller mdf base and I put them in before the carpet was installed (the installers said either was fine). Now I wish I would have done it after because I’ve run into a couple issues getting them to match up when I’ve done more recent projects.

The carpet was the part that made the space finally feel DONE:

light carpet basement

You can see more about that huge IKEA art here.

Again we used a local smaller company instead of a bigger shop. The price difference was unreal. We got REALLY great, high quality carpet and thick padding for about 800 square feet for $2000. That included installation.

Overall the entire basement finishing cost was about $11,000. We later did a few things like tile in the bathroom and laundry room, finishing the bathroom with a sink and toilet, and this huge built in:

built in cubby storage

And all of that stuff was about another $1500, but that was done throughout all of last year.

There’s still more projects we’d like to do down here – the fireplace wall, the kitchenette and hubby’s office are the big ones. I want add some kind of table where the drum set is eventually as well. I think it’d be nice to have a place to play games or do Legos or just sit and eat. Sigh. I LOVE basements. :)

I found overseeing the project to be quite fun – and that’s probably because we were in no hurry. We did it as we had the money and it took about six months. You get it all over much faster if you pay more, but I was fine with spacing it out. I think it helped to make sure we did things the way they would work best for us, you know? It kind of forced me to take my time when planning things out like lighting and all that stuff. So far it’s all worked really well for us!

If you have any other questions about this space I’d be happy to answer them! (All of the costs I mentioned included the materials by the way.) Let me know if I forgot anything. To see all the basement projects (and how we used it before it was finished!) go here.

61 comments:

  1. Love it, love it, love it! And it gives me hope - we have been saving and saving, thinking we would be spending $30,000 on our basement. But maybe we can do it cheeper? Maybe I can try to find local, small companies like you did. We are small business supporters anyway. And I was planning on doing my own flooring and painting anyway. Hmmmm - you have my brain wheels a turnin'.....thanks, thanks, thanks!!

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    1. We put it off for years because we thought it would cost that much too. If you don't want to spread it out it may be worth it to just get it done -- it just depends on how annoyed you'll be with dragging it out a little more. ;)

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  2. 10 inches?! What channel are you watching? Everything I have seen says 2-4.
    So glad to see this post about your basement-we are getting ready to start finishing ours-well we have been for the past two years-so we'll see!

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    1. I've seen 10.5+, 6-9 and 1-2. I've never seen such different predictions! (I get all my weather online, haven't seen the news yet.) I'm hoping it's nothing -- like the last one they thought was going to be huge. :)

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    2. Hopefully it doesn't end up like valentine's day when they call for an inch and we get 5!

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  3. Thanks so much for posting this detailed break-down of your budget! I'm in the middle of finishing my own basement, and it's certainly motivating to get an idea of how much my efforts are saving (not that my workmanship is as good as your pics show, just that we wouldn't have anything finished if I had to pay someone else). And I love that you acted as your own contractor.

    Can you another post about the 'guts' of the basement? How do you keep the dampness from the concrete floors from wicking up into the carpet? Tips on dealing with water intrusion (looks like your basement is very dry, but 10" of melting snow triggers my nervous tic of running down to the basement every two hours with a wet vac) ?

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    1. We don't have many water issues down there -- we had an issue with the back door leaking down a few times, but otherwise the only water problem has been from our humidifier in the HVAC system leaking from upstairs. So we didn't need to do anything, but I know there is a subfloor just for basements you can use -- it lifts the "floor" off the ground an inch or two and then you install the flooring over it. Maybe that would work for you? I want to get a back up sump pump because I do worry about it a lot too!

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  4. Beautiful! I love that it looks so bright and open even though it's a basement! I told my husband, next house we need a basement. We have 2 small kids now so I know we'll need the room as they get older for having friends over.

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  5. Wow, great job! I love the colors, it's so light and airy looking, it doesn't look like a basement. I love the decor. Really great job!

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  6. Finished basements are so fantastic, aren't they? I watch House Hunters, and sometimes wonder how people in other parts of the U.S. manage without them! Yours turned out so great, and I know it's only going to get better. Amazed at the price too - I would have guessed much more! We too, are using a small shop for our heating/cooling, and I *love* it. Honest, reasonable and great work.

    10 inches?!? They're talking a couple of inches here - after two days of 60+ degree weather on Monday/Tuesday. What a downer. Thus the life of living in the midwest (in our basements)...

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  7. Great job- the whole rooms feels so nice and light and open. I found reading about the cost breakdown to be really helpful!

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  8. I live in Avon, IN and we are actually looking into getting carpet done in 2 of our rooms. Are u able to say the name of the carpet company you used?? I would like to check them out. Thanks.

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    1. Leslie can you email me and I'll get you his name. :)

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  9. What kind of fireplace did you get? We were looking at putting in a gas fireplace in our basement but there wasn't enough clearance to vent it out. It is chilly in our basement as well so we need a solution...just not sure what the solution is!

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    1. Shannon we did an electric one and got it online. We went back and forth about a gas one during the finishing process but we would have had to have another gas line installed and do all the venting so we decided against it. I looked at a local fireplace store and figured out what we wanted, then looked online and found it $100 cheaper. :) I'm pretty sure it was here: http://www.electricfireplacesdirect.com

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    2. Reading that you looked at the local fireplace store in order to decide on what you wanted, but then bought online from someone else just made me cringe. They gave you the customer service, you should give them the sale! How are they going to stay in business if people just go in and use them to check things out, but then buy cheaper online? How do you think a business pays for a showroom and sales staff?

      Friends of ours had to eventually close a family business because of people doing this to them. I'm a faithful, daily reader of your blog, but you really disappointed me today. :(

      Marie

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    3. Hello Marie, this entire post was about how we use and support small businesses. :) We went into the local store -- no one helped us -- and looked around. When I looked online and found the same item for so much cheaper, with free shipping, I called and asked if they would be able to give any kind of discount. They refused, which I totally understand, but then I decided to save $100. I don't always go with the cheapest prices but sometimes I'm going to save $100 if I can save $100. We've purchased other things from them before, so we are a customer. They are a well established business that's been around for a very long time.

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  10. Looks great! Makes me motivated to start ours.

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  11. Wow, what a great space! Our house came with a "finished" basement, just with wood paneling and green tiles. We're working on "finishing" it to our standards, lol.

    More snow? *cries*

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  12. this is amazing! It may just be my new favorite spot of your house :)

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  13. Looks great! We had our builder frame out what was to be the finished area when we built. To have him do it, would have been about 25k. We finished it for 10k, furnishings and all. We know a few people in the trades so the only thing we had to hire out for was drywall and the only thing we were disappointed with. Our friends in the trades, only needed beer or a meal :)

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    1. It's SO helpful knowing people who do that stuff! We only know of these smaller businesses because of the restoration company who worked on our house after water issues years ago -- he used all smaller shops.

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  14. I just love seeing finished basements - it gives me hope for ours :) We are currently in the middle of a HUGE DIY basement finishing project...that started with digging the basement deeper nearly 2 years ago. We are now very close to being done - finishing the bathroom, painting, flooring...but I can not wait for the day when we can sit down there and enjoy the space! I LOVE your laundry room door idea with the 2 smaller doors. Wish I had seen it before we ordered our doors :) Oh, well, maybe some day! Great Job!!

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  15. I really appreciate this post. We are saving to finish our basement (by paying cash) and your breakdown of expenses is very helpful. I love the idea of tackling separate steps each month. Your space is beautiful, great job!

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  16. i love that you are watching the amazing race. is that weird that i found the afghanimals in a photo that had so many other things? i looove that storage! enjoy!

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  17. Your basement is amazing! We are in the process of doing ours. We're getting close to the "pretty stuff". I am trying to talk hubby into a bathroom down there and we aren't agreeing. Can I ask- did you have to put in a special drainage system? If so, I would love to hear your feedback on it.

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    1. Thank ou JoAnne! The builder roughed in the drainage system for the toilet, sink and shower when we built. I'm so glad we did it then -- it can get really expensive to add it after the fact (since you have to dig into the concrete).

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  18. it looks amazing! and great idea to break up paying for the big stuff. i want some popcorn now.

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  19. Love your basement, it is fabulous and looks like such a great place for family and friends to gather. Hugs, Marty

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  20. Looks great! Definitely inspiring me to do a little more in our basement! I'm with you--Yay for basements!

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  21. What is the color of your doors?

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  22. Such an amazing basement, love it! You have given me inspiration too. We are planning to start tackling our basement this summer/fall and the suggestions and pricing you shared is really helpful. Thank you!
    Shelley

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  23. What a beautiful basement and how smart you are to have it all paid for!

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  24. That. Is. AWESOME. $12,500 for all of that cool stuff down there is impressive. Brush your shoulders off.

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  25. I love that you put the cost. not because I am nosey...lol....but it makes it doable! Anyone can make a space beautiful for millions....your practical budget and timeline make me love your space even more! BRAVO!

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  26. Wow! It looks wonderful! How nice to have all of that extra space too! I'm drooling a bit seeing your gorgeous washer and dryer! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia;)

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  27. Great job! It was all worth your hard work :)

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  28. I followed along on the redo faithfully, thanks for the recap, I've gotta go make myself a bowl of popcorn now.

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  29. Would you mind posting a simple drawing of the floor plan? I have 900 sq feet of unfinished basement but can't wrap my mind on how to divide it up. I really enjoy your blog!

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    1. Thank you!
      I shared a floor plan in this post: http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2012/02/basement-step-1-of-587.html

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    2. Thanks! I must have missed that one!

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  30. Wow, 10 inches this week? I live in the same area and I've only heard 1-2 from the local news/weather stations.

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    1. I saw three different forecasts, from one inch to ten! Now I'm hearing three to five. Who knows, I just want to get it over with. :)

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  31. This is so great! I love all of it! I plan to add a big map like this one in our basement as well. It is the kids playroom right now and is far from finished.
    Where did you get the wall lamps next to the TV?

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    1. Those are plug in wall sconces from Home Depot!

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    2. Thanks! We are looking for something similar for our den, framing couch.

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  32. We saved up for a few years to finish our basement and hired most of it out. It costs more to do that, but with my husband's work schedule it would've taken us probably a year to finish. Construction was done in 4 months. Furnishing and decorating, on the other hand, have taken me more than a year because we've bought everything as we could afford it. Long process, but I don't like debt!

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  33. It's beautiful! I have a question about the windows, though - are there really *no* windows? Aren't their code issues with that (e.g. egress for a fire)?

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    1. No, none at all! It's not unusual in our area. We just can't have a bedroom down there, that's the only code issue -- as far as I know anyway. I'll have to ask about that.

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  34. It looks amazing! It's so light and bright. It truly looks like a staged model home, popcorn bowl and all. I know absolutely nothing about basements. Actually, I've never even been in one before lol. I'm guessing they are used like game rooms we have upstairs in the south? I'm floored at how expensive they are to finish, but I suppose it makes sense with all the work that goes into them. I would have finished a little over time at those prices, also!

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  35. I'm interested in the fireplace you did...is it electric? I'm looking at finishing my basement as well however it's 1400 square feet and chopped up right now so I'm looking at all options for heating down there. Thanks!

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    1. Yes it was electric and we found it online -- I can't remember the specifics about it but they sell them in different BTU's and ours was a mid-level I believe. It heats up the space really well!

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  36. Hi- Thanks for writing such a comprehensive article about your basement. I love that you included all the details and links to your other instructions.
    I'm interested in your lighting plan- what kind of lights/watts of bulbs/size of potlights or whatever info you'd like to share. There is such a range of ceiling lights like you have with a similar range of pricing. I'm nervous to select a low priced option for safety reasons. Any help you can give about your own experiences would be appreciated. Keep up the good work. Phyllis Henry

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    1. Hello! I covered all the electrical details in this post: http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2012/03/we-have-basement-lights.html

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  37. I love the wall map, the bookcase wall, and the Afghaniamals on TV!!

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  38. Love your blog. A(local) friend told me about it about a year ago. Is there a way to find out the names of some of the smaller contractors you used? Thank you!

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  39. I love the storage underneath your TV. Where did you get the shelves?

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    1. We had those built and I did the wood top -- you can see more here: http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2013/02/basement-built-in-cubbies.html

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  40. Thank you so much for sharing this detailed post about your basement. Our basement is 1400 sf and we dream of finishing at least 2/3 of it. Our county requires an egress window in a finished basement and I like the extra light/above ground feeling that it provides. We're nowhere near taking on this project because we've heard that it may cost as much as $50k. Your budget was much more reasonable and gives me hope that one day we'll get it done.

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I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!