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Old 01-20-2015, 08:19 AM   #1
aaarcher86
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And so it begins...

We've finally come to terms with putting in the work and effort to finish our basement. We will do everything - framing, insulation, drywall, electrical, etc. Really just looking for tips or anything you found that might save some money that we haven't thought of. I don't really think there's much cost cutting we can do with this, but who knows!

We are seriously considering acid staining the cement floor instead of installing carpet. Thoughts?
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Old 01-20-2015, 08:28 AM   #2
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No cost-cutting advice, but some things to consider. We did everything except drywall (not a lot of experience finishing - well worth the money spent for that) and the gas line for a fireplace.

Consider if/when you will sell your house and what types of features you want and what kinds of features will make it appealing to buyers. Wire for all kinds of possibilities since it will be far easier and cheaper to do it now.

I don't know about the flooring finish you are considering, but if it is inexpensive, why not try it and if you don't like it, you can install carpet or laminate or other flooring type later.

Good luck. You can save so much money doing it yourself.
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Old 01-20-2015, 08:47 AM   #3
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I would buy some inexpensive tile for the basement floor it will give it a more finish look.

Other tips.
Take pictures of all your existing plumbing and electrical before sheetrocking (in case you need access).
Make sure you leave at least 1/2 gap from basement floor to sheetrock walls.
If you are putting a shower, toilet, bathtub in find out how high up your sewer line exit is before buying anything.
Use pressured treated wood for any rough lumber that touches the basement floor.
Make sure you have enough lighting fixtures.
If you have a basement that sometimes gets damp, think where you will put in a dehumidifier as well as drainage for it.
What kind of heat will you have?
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by soccerchick View Post
We did everything except drywall (not a lot of experience finishing - well worth the money spent for that) .
I really wish we had this part hired out. Dry Walling is an art imho. Everything turned out great for us but this. I want to put wall paper up

My dh used 1X4 instead of 2X4 to finish ours, that helped reduce cost a little bit. We also shopped for can lighting in economy packs which made a difference vs. buying each individually. I was impressed with how little $ my dh spent when finishing ours. Flooring was probably one of our biggest expense. Even though we have wood floors mainly in our house I wanted carpet for the basement. Basements are cold so we added lots of can lighting and warm carpet and it really made a difference. I am not a fan of basements and thought I would never go down there but the warmth made a difference and I go down there a lot.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:27 AM   #5
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There are some bamboo floors that can be glued directly to the concrete but I think the stained concrete gives a high end look at a lower cost. My FIL stained his garage floors and they look great. A restaurant near their home has the stained floors and they look amazing. I highly recommend it. I think it looks better than tile and is easier to maintain. FIL got his stain from Sherwin Williams and it is sort the color of cherry wood stain.

We put fan-fold insulation on our walls before putting up the studs.

It was cheaper to buy lighting in contractor packs than individually even though we didn't use all the lights in the pack.

DH and DD have pretty bad issues with allergies and asthma. Carpets trap all of that stuff and it even filters down below the pad and stays there. I will never have carpet again. Area rugs can at least be taken out and deep cleaned on a regular basis or easily replaced. I buy throw rugs that can be put in the washer.

We wired our lights so they can be turned on/off from a few different switches. Our outlets are mostly double outlets so we have lots of options for charging devices or placing lamps.

There is something you can do where you tape a piece of plastic to the floor and you can determine if you have moisture coming up from the floor or just condensation.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by aaarcher86 View Post
And so it begins...

We've finally come to terms with putting in the work and effort to finish our basement. We will do everything - framing, insulation, drywall, electrical, etc. Really just looking for tips or anything you found that might save some money that we haven't thought of. I don't really think there's much cost cutting we can do with this, but who knows!

We are seriously considering acid staining the cement floor instead of installing carpet. Thoughts?

We are currently finishing our basement- this will be the forth one.

We are framing right now- easier and quicker to build a frame section on the ground and hammering into place but to each their own on that one.

Also, how are you insulating? There are a lot of wrong ways to do it and it can be detrimental in the long term. We use a foamboard as a vapor barrier than frame and then put in the pink insulation. Spray foam would do the same thing but costs quite a bit more. Do it either way and you will have one comfortable basement.

It doesn't hurt to try the concrete stain but there is an art to it and it can take some time to get it right- plus do you have any imperfections you need to take care of first? Carpet always warms up the basement- to get the best deal for quality I always tell people to go to home depot and pick from the stand areas- these are the high quality carpet they buy in bulk so the prices can't be beat- also wait for a free or low price installation sale- they always have one- PLUS- check out ebay for 10% off Lowes coupons and buy about 5-10 - home depot takes them and use them when you buy materials and carpet- we have saved thousands over the years doing this.

We are hardcore DIYers but we may even hire someone to mud once we finish. It really isn't that expensive and they can be done in a couple days with little mess where it would take us a couple weeks and we would be covered in dust.

Just thought of another thing- if you are not big on the ebay coupon thing- try getting all your supplies at once and ask for a discount- just go to the contractor area with the list of everything and ask for a 10% discount- if it is a big enough sale they will do it-- then they will get everything for you.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:49 AM   #7
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We had ours finished last year, although we hired it out to a contractor. I was very involved in the process though. Some thoughts:

1. Check codes. They had changed since our house was built and we needed an egress window put in. Budget buster! However, it does let in tons of light which i do like a lot.
2. Storage. Consider how much storage you will now need if your basement is no longer available. We ended up adding huge closets along one wall for storage as well as not finishing an alcove where the furnace is. We added had them build 2x4 and plywood shelving in there along the whole wall (cheap) which makes a HUGE difference.
3. The basement gets COLD. I am very glad we put in a good carpet and padding down there. We also had a beautiful corner gas fireplace installed. Really heats up the room quickly, has great aesthetics and makes the room a usable space.
4. Lighting. Put in tons of lighting as it gets dark down there. We did recess lighting everywhere and then added accent lighting at the wet bar. Everything is on a dimmer.
5. We drywalled the ceiling. Was only minimally more expensive than the ugly tiles.
6. Match the fixtures to the rest of the house. This was important to me. I didn't want the basement to feel CHEAP. I wanted it to feel like an extension of my house. Something simple like making sure the banister is consistent with the rest of the house.
7. Replace all the basement windows to nice double paned sliders if you don't have them. We almost overlooked this.

Our basement turned out gorgeous and is a very functional space. We pretty much just finished off about 800 feet into a big room with the only extras being a small wet bar along the wall and the fireplace. The project cost a lot even though I did a lot of pushing on the budget and bought a lot of supplies on my own rather than through the contractor so I could control the pricing, but it was well worth it in my opinion for what we got. Everyone who comes over comments how it doesn't feel like a basement at all which was the goal.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by puffkin View Post
We had ours finished last year, although we hired it out to a contractor. I was very involved in the process though. Some thoughts:

1. Check codes. They had changed since our house was built and we needed an egress window put in. Budget buster! However, it does let in tons of light which i do like a lot.
2. Storage. Consider how much storage you will now need if your basement is no longer available. We ended up adding huge closets along one wall for storage as well as not finishing an alcove where the furnace is. We added had them build 2x4 and plywood shelving in there along the whole wall (cheap) which makes a HUGE difference.
3. The basement gets COLD. I am very glad we put in a good carpet and padding down there. We also had a beautiful corner gas fireplace installed. Really heats up the room quickly, has great aesthetics and makes the room a usable space.
4. Lighting. Put in tons of lighting as it gets dark down there. We did recess lighting everywhere and then added accent lighting at the wet bar. Everything is on a dimmer.
5. We drywalled the ceiling. Was only minimally more expensive than the ugly tiles.
6. Match the fixtures to the rest of the house. This was important to me. I didn't want the basement to feel CHEAP. I wanted it to feel like an extension of my house. Something simple like making sure the banister is consistent with the rest of the house.
7. Replace all the basement windows to nice double paned sliders if you don't have them. We almost overlooked this.

Our basement turned out gorgeous and is a very functional space. We pretty much just finished off about 800 feet into a big room with the only extras being a small wet bar along the wall and the fireplace. The project cost a lot even though I did a lot of pushing on the budget and bought a lot of supplies on my own rather than through the contractor so I could control the pricing, but it was well worth it in my opinion for what we got. Everyone who comes over comments how it doesn't feel like a basement at all which was the goal.
This is just my opinion but if a basement gets cold then it isn't insulated properly- insulation is so important but tends to get overlooked. When you walk into the basements we finish they feel exactly the same as the upstairs.
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Old 01-20-2015, 10:34 AM   #9
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The basement gets COLD. I am very glad we put in a good carpet and padding down there. We also had a beautiful corner gas fireplace installed. Really heats up the room quickly, has great aesthetics and makes the room a usable space.
This would be my concern as well. If it's cold on your feet and doesn't feel warm and inviting you won't want to go down there often.
Also pay attention to lighting and make sure it feels bright and open. The best budget tip to me would be to not cut corners on those two things or you'll have a brand new space that you won't want to use.
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:15 AM   #10
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We just finished our basement (or rather, re-did the semi-finished mess that the previous owners left us). They had panelboard and a painted concrete floor. Some trim, but not around the two windows. Everything was painted white. The floor was painted gray.

We redid the walls with real drywall, trimmed out the baseboards and windows and painted the color we wanted.

it pretty much looked the same. We used area rugs for flooring on top of the concrete. It still "felt" like a basement. Nobody wanted to go down there to watch TV or hang out - even the teenagers. We would crowd everyone in the (small) upstairs living room/dining room combo.

So, we installed carpet a couple weeks ago. It made a HUGE difference! The whole space is so much warmer - the whole half of the basement that is finished *looks* finished, warm, and inviting. The kids are down there ALL the time now, and we have hosted sleepovers every weekend since the carpet was installed.

I highly, highly recommend carpet in a basement. Just make sure that your foundation is in good condition (we had ours perma-sealed) and your sump pump/drainage system is is perfect working order!

Also, lighting, like someone else mentioned - our "family room" runs the length of the house, so it is a pretty big room. We have two sets of overhead lights, each with their own wall switches. We also placed a lamp on each end - one by the "office" area, and one behind the couch in the opposite corner. We also have two windows at opposite ends, and we made sure to extend the curtain rods past the actual windows to not only make the windows look larger, but so that the curtains didn't block the light coming in. It is pretty bright down there.
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:32 AM   #11
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Awesome tips! Thanks! Some of the responses were more detailed than I expected, which is great! Some of the terms I'm not familiar with - DH's dad and Uncle have a construction company, so they're more knowledgeable than I am. I just perform manual labor and tell them what I want lmao.

Someone asked what type of heat - gas heat like the rest of the house.

Insulation - those pink fiberglass rolls.

We plan on moving South in about 3 years and I'd like to rent this house out instead of selling it. I'm trying to make it appalling overall instead of just what I'm wanting. We will have one bedroom down there with the rest open space. No bathroom. We will put carpet in the bedroom. I do need to plan for some extra storage space which I didn't tape out when planning the rooms, so thanks for that!

Really in the open areas we will put up a few mirrors and removable dance flooring for the kids to practice, with the other half being a game room. The basement doesn't get crazy cold as it is (some insulation already down there), but everyone wears slippers or sox around the house anyway. We do have one of those electric fake fireplaces that generates some decent heat that we will leave down there.

This is our first house and the basement was my bedroom where I grew up, so thinking of the most appealing features isn't easy. You guys have some great ideas though, and really great tips from going through it yourselves. I'd love to do carpet down there - we don't get a lot of moisture and our sumps are all great, but our water heater busted a leak one or two years ago which kind of scared me out of it. Huge mold phobia!

Also - what's mudding?
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:39 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by aaarcher86 View Post
Awesome tips! Thanks! Some of the responses were more detailed than I expected, which is great! Some of the terms I'm not familiar with - DH's dad and Uncle have a construction company, so they're more knowledgeable than I am. I just perform manual labor and tell them what I want lmao.

Someone asked what type of heat - gas heat like the rest of the house.

Insulation - those pink fiberglass rolls.

We plan on moving South in about 3 years and I'd like to rent this house out instead of selling it. I'm trying to make it appalling overall instead of just what I'm wanting. We will have one bedroom down there with the rest open space. No bathroom. We will put carpet in the bedroom. I do need to plan for some extra storage space which I didn't tape out when planning the rooms, so thanks for that!

Really in the open areas we will put up a few mirrors and removable dance flooring for the kids to practice, with the other half being a game room. The basement doesn't get crazy cold as it is (some insulation already down there), but everyone wears slippers or sox around the house anyway. We do have one of those electric fake fireplaces that generates some decent heat that we will leave down there.

This is our first house and the basement was my bedroom where I grew up, so thinking of the most appealing features isn't easy. You guys have some great ideas though, and really great tips from going through it yourselves. I'd love to do carpet down there - we don't get a lot of moisture and our sumps are all great, but our water heater busted a leak one or two years ago which kind of scared me out of it. Huge mold phobia!

Also - what's mudding?
HAHA- sorry- I get a little crazy with details and slang terms as my head is right in the middle of our basement finishing right now. Just last night DH burned his finger on a hot nail while framing.

Mud is just another way of saying joint compound- what you use on the drywall for the seams.

If DH's dad and uncle have a construction company I bet they can get you the best deals on supplies.

Good luck!
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:00 PM   #13
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Dh and I finished the basement in our old home.

He used metal studs instead of wood. I don't know if it saved anything, but if anything happened the studs wouldn't rot out.

He used the pink foam as a vapor barrier before putting up the rolls of insulation.

Make sure to put in plenty of outlets. You can never have enough.

We also put in lots of canned lighting. Those little casement windows don't let in much natural light. We did put a regular sized window in one room. We had to dig down around the foundation on the outside, put in a window well, and cut a hole in the foundation for the window. It looked great and I wanted to do more. DH, who did all the work, said no way to more of those windows.

We put down a special carpet that's made for basements. It has a mold and mildew resistant backing to it (about a 1/4" foam). It makes it nice and cushiony when walking on it, but if it gets wet you just need to shop vac it and use a fan to dry it out. No having to rip all the carpet out if it gets wet.
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:01 PM   #14
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for a few thousand more, you might consider getting a gas stove installed for heat. Install access panels to get to utilities such as water, plumbing, electrical
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:20 PM   #15
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Tips.
Use liquid nails (glue) to hold down the bottom frames for the studs DO NOT use the nail gun as you put holes in the slab and water can com through them... some will say to use a plastic sheet under it as well so the wood does not touch the concrete.
I used pine paneling (the real pine not 4x8 sheets) as if your basement ever floods you will need to rip out all the sheet rock and redo it. Our basement flooded during Irene never did before or after yet. Had to do nothing but spray some bleach and scrub as a precaution.
flooring see if you can find someone who is selling used office grade carpet tiles they are rubber backed and will not get moldy from water.. you can buy them new but the are not cheap to say the least....
wiring.. make sure you run the code wiring should be romex down a few inches and back up to each outlet creating sort of a loop in the wire... this will be code.. simple if you have a leak form above and travels down the wire it goes to the floor and not the outlet... and install one GFC per line you run for outlets.
Drop ceiling--make sure you get moisture rated tiles
Molding the cheapest you can get HD sells contractor packs VERY cheap of MDF and pine... while the pine is not much more either way if you get water it will need to be changed.
if you have areas that have a lot of pipes or electric panel simply build the wall out a few feet and put a door.. you have storage and easy access... I can walk around the entire perimeter of my basement for access and it has been handy for many reasons... as far as insulation the most important part to insulate is the sill take the time it is will also help you house stay warmer.... as far as the walls if you build the walls out a few feet you can get foam it only needs to go down a few feet but it is not really needed. if you build up against the foundation you need to put a vapor barrier against the wall first or you will have mold...

forget to say you will need to clear coat the pine with linseed oil or the like to seal it.
some of this budget friendly some is a little more... I did what I did in case of a flood and it did happen and cost me the price of molding...
I always say if you have a basement it will flood at some point...
as far as insurance the only coverage you will get for your basement is called sewer back up -- which I have and did get paid-- it is a rider and will only cover structure NOT personal property like and including furniture....
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