The Ultimate Guide to Finishing Your Basement
Consider this your step-by-step manual for getting the job done.
Before you jump into converting the unused living space under your home into a finished basement, you'll want to pause and approach the renovation with a few clear goals. Here, Michael DiMartino, the Senior Vice President of Installations at Power Home Remodeling, shares what you really need to know about the process—including the step you should take right now if you have "finishing the basement" on your agenda.
Understand your goals.
Before you begin any home remodeling project, you should first understand what your goals are—and what you'd ultimately like to do with the space. "The most important first step before is to make sure that you (and your partner) are aligned on goals," DiMartino explains. "Have a conversation with all parties of your household to solidify the intended use of the final room." Everyone should be on the same page right off the bat; conversations might need to be had if one person is expecting the project to result in an at-home theater and another wants more of a general recreational space.
Set a budget.
This is critical: Take a hard look at your finances to determine how much you can afford to set aside for this project. Then make sure that you'll have extra money to spare should problems arise. "Homeowners unfortunately run into a disconnect on what they envision as the end result and what they can actually afford," he says. "For example, running into a plumbing issue might cost you $25,000 alone—which is what a homeowner might have budgeted for an entire project from start to finish." A lot of the time, notes DiMartino, handy homeowners can tackle their own drywall and install a Berber carpet, both of which are affordable options with big design impact. "On the contrary, if you are looking to embark on a serious renovation—like an in-law suite, a movie theater, or a home gym—that's where the cost can skyrocket," he adds.
Get several quotes.
Vet several businesses before you settle on your contractor, DiMartino advises. "My rule of thumb is to always inquire with at least three different professionals," he explains. "This will likely give you choices on what a lower end, middle, and high budget could result in."
Once you have your contractor lined up, the fun really begins—but a full-blown basement renovation takes time, so patience is key. "It's always tough to estimate timing for an average project, given that no two homes or projects are the same," he says, adding that the schedules of your contractors can also impact the completion target. "If you are looking to finish a simple space that doesn't pose any unforeseen issues, and have a team of experts that are readily available, you could complete framing, insulation, drywall, paint, flooring, and lighting projects in roughly two weeks," he says. "Anything related to permitting or to your systems—HVAC, electrical, plumbing—will take the longest out of the bunch." And don't forget—reputable contractors go through stages of approval, inspection, and passing that inspection, all of which can prolong a project timeline.