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.