Need help. Don't know where to start in finishing basement.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Shawn Shultzaberger, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. Shawn Shultzaberger

    Shawn Shultzaberger Supporting Actor

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    Ladies and Gentlemen, I need some help.

    My wife and I have decided that it's time to finish the basement. This is our first house and we will be in it for another 6 years (all kids graduated by then).

    We will refinance the house at a lower rate and use the current equity to put back into it. I would like to spend about 30k for the 1270 sq.ft. we have down stairs. The basement has a laundry room, storage under the stairs and a rough-in for the bathroom. Ceiling height could be almost 9'. I'm looking to get two bed rooms, large 5-piece bathroom, full utility laundry room and theater area out of it.

    My dilemma: Who do I call to get the ball rolling once we get the money? A contractor? General Contractor? Architect? Will we need a building permit from the town? And etc.

    I am so afraid of getting screwed out of the money since I really don't know what to do.

    Our problem is that we have 3 teenage kids (daughter in her own room and boys sharing a room) living in 1270 sq.ft. of space. No one seems to have any privacy when it's needed.

    Any help is greatly appreciated! [​IMG]


    Cliff notes - need to finish basement but don't know who to hire or call.
     
  2. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    Shawn,
    What a great project.
    Is this a new home? When was it built?
    Are there, or have there been any moisture problems in the basement? That 9' ceiling seems unusual, but in a good way.
    I'd sure talk to people you know in the area about their basement additions.
    Please keep us up to date as this gets underway.
     
  3. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Start by really measuring the space, including the things you don't want to move (bathroom, furnace etc). Some things (like the existing stairway) will dictate what you can do. Sketch the rooms you want. Can you get as many rooms as you are thinking of in the space? Buy a book on home renovations (adding rooms, rec rooms, etc).

    In other words, have some of your own ideas before you consult an architect or contractor.

    We have a rec room that was not well designed, the furnace and the electrical panel are squeezed into a corner room, and is not well soundproofed. The furnace coming on significantlty detracts from enjoying TV there.[​IMG]. If you're going to have a laundry room, that usually will be noisy. If your bedroom is upstairs and the kids have the Tv on loud in your theater, you'll want the ceiling well sound-proofed too [​IMG]

    We need a new furnace, but I don't want to move on that project until the rec room gets redesigned. Too bad the previous owners hadn't thought of that, now we have to cope with it.

    For a small addition to the house we did last year (not in the rec room), we hired an architect, and felt better having plans in hand when we looked for a contractor to implement the project. But we had a very satisfactory contractor who as much as told us he could have come up with the plans himself. You never can tell.

    Sometimes you need to look outside the house, and adress drainage issues there before you invest in an upgrade to a basement.

    Sounds like your space has a lot of potential.
     
  4. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    You will almost certainly need a building permit. Also, make sure the contractor is fully licensed and insured. I agree with what has been said about drawing out a sketch of some plans yourself. It's important to know what you want and to be realistic about what to expect. Also, you know what you need/want much better than the contractor does. When doing this, build around the stairwell and you might look for pipes above to place any bathrooms to minimize pipe runs.
     
  5. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Yep. If you are doing electrical, plumbing and walls and painting, go for a general contractor. Let them get the right people.

    But do plan it out first. Have your kids get into it. Maybe one son could move down there by having them finish one room first. They'll cooperate a lot more.

    Good issues with the pipes if they are overhead.

    If you are going to put a theater in there, plan all of the wiring runs and get them all 'in wall'

    This will increase your property value when you sell, but make sure that you don't put more $$ into it then other homes in your neighborhood go for.

    Also, and it won't cost much more, consider wiring the house for Cat 5 - before they come in and seal everything up.

    Glenn
     
  6. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    To go along with what Glenn said, it might be a good idea to run a 3" PVC pipe from the basement to the attic. You could place the pipe in a closet for easy access. This will allow you to run things like Cat5, rg6, phone, speaker, and any other wire in the future without having to drill up. Instead you can feed wires for the top floor up to the attic and then drop them where needed. It's pretty inexpensive to do and could prove very beneficial in the future since you'll be closing up all the walls.
     
  7. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    If you are closing up the ceiling, make sure that there aren't any wiring/plumbing needs above unless you plan on leaving the underside of the upstairs floor accessable.

    Get yourself a camera, and before anything gets covered up, take photographs of the structure and all utilities, preferably backed by some kind of scale drawings. That makes any future maintenance or renos a lot simpler.

    When planning your additions, make a scale drawing and see how your furniture fits. Do as much as you can on paper, paying attention to traffic flow and accessability.
     
  8. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    I would strongly look into a ceiling panel system...it can be very affordable and still have a great look, and it makes any kind of repairs to the guts of the house super easy....plus it helps to soundproof the rooms below.

    other things to consider is adding full HVAC; also maybe talk to someone in the know about having it considered as living space for resale purposes...I just sold a house with a finished basement, and the realtor wouldn't consider it part of the sq footage since it wasn't fully HVACed.

    If your sewer line is above the level of the basement (and chances are pretty good it is) then you'll also need to pump the nasty stuff up and out...definitely not something I would want to attempt myself. But do try to lay out all the things that you yourself would like to do before the contractor comes in, like putting CAT5/wire runs/sketching out the rooms/dry-lok the floors or walls. one thing that I would advise is looking at door openings for furniture. So many DIY-finished basements I have been in are just awful in terms of layout and getting stuff in and out. A little bit of forethought and a little less skimping on door-size helps out a bit.

    Keep us posted with pics or drawings in this thread!
     
  9. Shawn Shultzaberger

    Shawn Shultzaberger Supporting Actor

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    Wow! Thanks all!

    Here is something of concern:

    This is a new home but unfortunately it is situated in a non-covenant area therefore we have all types of homes from a million dollar one right down to small mobile home types to the little old lady on the block who doesn't take care of her home and hasn't for the past 30 years. The maximum I would want to spend is the $30k as I believe that would put me just slightly above most of the others but just under a few.

    I've actually done up a 3D model using Punch's Home Modeling software, but my imagination as far as what the basement "could" look like is lacking. And the furnace/water heater that sits in the middle of it really throws the whole thing off. The water pipes do sit outside of the beams but not in the theater/family room area. The HVAC ducts are also on the outside but not in the "would be" theater/family room area. Tthe concrete walls measure @ 8'8" and with the beams it's 8' 9.5" tall. We haven't had any (knock on wood) water or cracking issues since we've lived in the house (almost 5 years now). Sealing up the ceiling feels a bit risky to me but I like the look much better than a false ceiling.

    I do know that the theater/family room can only be as large as 16'x23'. We'd be sitting roughly 14' away from the TV which I guess isn't to bad. For that area I would double sheetrock everything for a little more sound dampening.

    Well I'm rambling, but to know that I need to call a General Contractor first really helps. I suppose he'll come in, look at everything, give a quote close to what it might cost? Then it's up to me to budget about 10% - 20% more for the "unknown" things that happen to pop up? Now to find a reputable GC.

    Thanks again everybody. We are really nervous about this but excited at the same time. The house just feels so small.
     
  10. Shawn Shultzaberger

    Shawn Shultzaberger Supporting Actor

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    If I could see a finished basement with a false ceiling that looked good I might be convinced to have it done. I want people (and ourselves) to walk downstairs and go Wow!
     
  11. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Ok, cancel my idea about the Cat 5. Seth's is much better.

    I'm glad that you are putting wide doors in. While you are at it, get the new door handles too. Oh, and make sure that you can get a couch/big TV down the stairs and around the corners too. That would be a dreadful mistake.

    Glenn
     

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