Anyone recently finish their basement? | The Boneyard

Anyone recently finish their basement?

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Wife and I decided to start looking at finishing our basement. No idea on how much of an investment would be but we need space for our kids to play and it needs a UConn themed man cave. It would be approximately 900 square feet. Anyone have contractors that they’ve used for this type of project and would comfortably recommend? Specifically in the Hartford area.

Thanks!
 

CTBasketball

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First thing I’d make sure before you start is determine if your basement/foundation is dry or not. Especially when the soil thaws in March/April coupled with heavy rains. Water damage in a finished basement is the worst.

Shoot me a PM if you have questions I’ve done on my house.
 

tdrink

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Dry and some natural light go a long way in a finished basement.

If possible try to have the ceiling sheetrocked instead of using a drop ceiling. Drop ceilings just scream “basement!”

I utilize access panels where there are utility boxes, shut offs or cleanouts. I try to set up chases for routing any possible future work.
E7CBBEB3-163C-43DC-B62E-32278B117896.jpeg
 
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This has literally been my pandemic project.

We had to address foundation and water issues before we started working in specific spots so make sure that gets done first and I suggest hiring someone with a warranty. We used drainage experts and they were great!. We had to bring them back once for a small leak but no water in 2 years is worth the investment.

I’ve been slowly finishing my basement since I began working remote in ‘20. If you have any prior water issues then DO NOT rush the renovation. Tackling it slowly was worth it for us.

Originally I got quotes for a contractor to finish the basement and the cheapest one I got was $20k for about 700 sq.ft of space (including parts+labor). No thanks!

I’m doing it myself and in total it’s cost me about $2k for an office area/room and around $3k for a large playroom. Lots of closets too for the wife. I’m halfway done and it’s going to be less than $6k when it’s finished by the spring/summer.

The only job we are outsourcing is for heating.
 
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I did about 200 square feet myself, except for electrical. All in, it was about $6k. I had no prior carpentry experience, and I shocked myself with how well it came out. YouTube is a hell of a website! However, what would have taken a team of 2 pros 2 days to do took me about 8 months.
 

CL82

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I did about 200 square feet myself, except for electrical. All in, it was about $6k. I had no prior carpentry experience, and I shocked myself with how well it came out. YouTube is a hell of a website! However, what would have taken a team of 2 pros 2 days to do took me about 8 months.
That’s the truth isn’t it? Maybe 20 years ago I renovated my family room. I’ve described the work previously here, so I won’t bother now. It came out great and I really enjoy the room to thus day. But watching a professional contractor do a project is impressive as all heck. They are fast and good, at least the good ones.

For what it’s worth, if you have the time, it’s worth taking on one of these projects for yourself. The knowledge you gain from it will be invaluable in future renovation work that you do. You will just have a better understanding of the process and what can and cannot reasonably be done.
 

Dream Jobbed 2.0

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We have a finished basement that got pretty ravaged by the storms this summer/fall. Carpet and baseboards destroyed. Thankfully dryway was good/no mold. Painted and installed vinyl plank flooring myself. We got middle of the road flooring for a little over $2 sqft. You can save a lot of money if you’re somewhat handy
 

Dream Jobbed 2.0

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I did about 200 square feet myself, except for electrical. All in, it was about $6k. I had no prior carpentry experience, and I shocked myself with how well it came out. YouTube is a hell of a website! However, what would have taken a team of 2 pros 2 days to do took me about 8 months.
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You had to know this request would be met primarily with helpful comments, but not on point with your request for a referral!

I'll continue that trend. Warning, this will be too much information, but I'm sitting on a continuing education session!

I am NOT particularly handy. I have no power tools, and I'm proud when I complete the easiest DIY projects. All that said, we had a contractor do our basement about 6 years ago. Here are a couple recommendations based on hindsight:
  • Listen to everyone here about water!! We actually started the flooring when we had some torrential rain and got some water in the corners. I stopped work and had a French drain and new well/pump put it. It was frustrating to rip up some floors, BUT SO WORTH IT. We had a water burst behind a wall and it did almost no damage. Also, the pump ran all night with Ida and we had no water on walls/floors. It's a must if you EVER have water issues and maybe even if you don't.
  • Flooring. We went with wood-look tile. I'm super happy with it based on my fear of water issues above. You can use rugs for warmth/comfort.
  • Our stairs go close to the wall at the bottom. We had a removable railing put it so that when we moved big stuff down (or up), it's sooo much easier to make the turn. Cool and easy design feature I found online.
  • We put in a half bathroom. It's a great addition. I don't regret not going with a full bath.
  • We built in an area for a mini fridge. I had the contractor build the space and ventilation into a closet behind that space. This way it's easy to replace the fridge in the future and we don't have to get a fancy built-in which seems to be twice the price.
  • We have a small footprint, but 3 somewhat distinct areas:
    • "Office" for the kids. Two desks, built-in book shelves, some soft seating. We thought we were brilliant when the pandemic hit. Fast forward and we are probably getting rid of the office part. They just don't use it for their school work.
    • Gym. Love having it. Hung a tv on the wall with a firestick and youtube tv.
    • "Family room" has a tv on the wall, built in shelf for gaming consoles, mini fridge, small sectional couch and a couple bean bags. My son pretty much lives here.
Good luck! We love our small basement.
 
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We did our half-basement (other half is garage) just before the pandemic and it has been a lifesaver. Had to remove ducts & HVAC & lost central air in downstairs but split system unit covers fine. Paid a local handyman about 15K which was 10K less than GCs. LVT floor, hard ceiling, lots of panels or doors for furnace, plumbing & electrical but all hidden & looks great & very functional for kids or man cave. No running water don't miss it at all, no bathroom = teenagers can't hide forever, full size fridge.

Best home improvement ever, wish we'd had time $ to add on a deck (in my view 2nd best home improvement narrowly beating new kitchens) before lumber prices skyrocketed.
 
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No contractor reference, but I do have a suggestion. Get some flat LED light panels and have them mounted on the wall and framed out like windows. Hang sheer curtains in front of them. They will help get rid of the basement feeling.
 
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I've owned 3 houses with finished basements. All 3 suffered moderate to severe water damage at one time or another.

Not only would I never own a home that had one, I found that people really don't like being in a basement when you have company. People will always congregate in or near the kitchen, or an island of some sort. They like standing and being mobile and mingling.
 

HuskyHawk

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Not recent. We bought the house with a finished basement and have made various upgrades over the years. Spend loads of time there.
  • I have a drop ceiling and that is the next change. As @tdrink suggested if finishing it now, put a real ceiling in. There are ways to provide access to pipes and wires. Note: if you plan any kind of home theater setup down there, run those wires first. To TV, surround speakers etc.
  • On flooring. I put vinyl flooring down concrete after ripping up the carpet. Mistake. Destroyed my knees and there is quite some effort to fully level a basement floor. I tried, I didn't quite succeed. The new vinyl floors that look like hardwood in various colors can be very moisture resistant. We put that in in our Vermont place (on slab). Highly recommended. But it's a tough DIY job. The vinyl floor is softer than tile, and a large throw rug softens it up more for kids playing.
  • Lighting follows the ceiling, use modern can lights with LEDs. You may want some soft local lights via lamps as well depending on your usage.
  • If you can put in a half bath, that's also a water source. If you can't, one of the large 5 gallon water dispensers is useful to avoid repeat trips upstairs.
  • We created a kids playroom initially (space is split in two). Then I converted that into a home exercise area. The other area is the home theater/bar/mancave area. If you have one big open space, consider if you want it to be broken up. At the same time, think about built-ins, storage etc.
 
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Another item to put in the mix. Basements aren't included in the square footage of the home, so you're not getting anything more on the resale value of your house because you can't include it in the price per sq foot calculation. Waste of money.
 

CTBasketball

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Another item to put in the mix. Basements aren't included in the square footage of the home, so you're not getting anything more on the resale value of your house because you can't include it in the price per sq foot calculation. Waste of money.
Is this true if you completely finish the basement? Meaning new floors/carpet?
 

HuskyHawk

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Is this true if you completely finish the basement? Meaning new floors/carpet?

Yes, that it isn't included (although I think walk out basements are). No on the absurd point that you aren't getting any more. Living space is living space and is valued as such by buyers. They could care less what the official square footage is. My neighbors recently sold their house and the basement was among the biggest selling points (it is amazing).
 

CTBasketball

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Yes, that it isn't included (although I think walk out basements are). No on the absurd point that you aren't getting any more. Living space is living space and is valued as such by buyers. They could care less what the official square footage is. My neighbors recently sold their house and the basement was among the biggest selling points (it is amazing).
I think my appraisal included the basement as official square footage - should probably get that fixed…
 
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Yes, that it isn't included (although I think walk out basements are). No on the absurd point that you aren't getting any more. Living space is living space and is valued as such by buyers. They could care less what the official square footage is. My neighbors recently sold their house and the basement was among the biggest selling points (it is amazing).
 

HuskyHawk

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Yes. Same as I said. Finished with walk out is counted. What’s silly, at least in the northeast, is that they think unofficial finished space isn’t treated more or less the same from a pricing perspective. It is. Nationally, finished basements, or even having basements, is less common.
 

tdrink

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Is this true if you completely finish the basement? Meaning new floors/carpet?

No, it’s not true. It can’t be included in a comp value and can’t be listed as square footage but if it adds value to the house it will be reflected in the asking price.

Decks and landscaping aren’t square footage either. But people will pay more for a house with a nice yard.
 

HuskyHawk

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No, it’s not true. It can’t be included in a comp value and can’t be listed as square footage but if it adds value to the house it will be reflected in the asking price.

Decks and landscaping aren’t square footage either. But people will pay more for a house with a nice yard.
One of our contractors said outdoor living space was just about the best $ return on home improvement. Definitely helps more than landscaping.
 

temery

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Another item to put in the mix. Basements aren't included in the square footage of the home, so you're not getting anything more on the resale value of your house because you can't include it in the price per sq foot calculation. Waste of money.

Mine is for tax assessment. Previous owner did a crap job, but the assessor said it's a finished basement.
 
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Purchased a house with a not great finished basement. One storm flooded the basement and we had to redo it. Luckily, we had a contractor working on a separate project at the time and he recommended putting in French drains and a sump pump since everything in the basement like the carpet needed to come up. To the best of our knowledge, the basement had never flooded in 50+ years, but we put in the French drains and sump pump anyway since the basement was empty and we wanted to reduce the possibility of ever having a flooded basement ever again. Redo is much better with better carpet, real ceiling, 2 TVs on the wall, better furniture,... We do use a dehumidifier in the summer and it is necessary.
 

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