A basement is like having an extra floor in your home. Homeowners use it to either store additional items they don’t want in the garage or make it into the dream playroom they always wanted. If your plans are to remodel, renovate or just finish the basement here are some great tips when it comes to doing it right and hiring a professional.
Have Pictures and Ideas Ready
Searching online will provide great examples of how the basement could be completed. Create a folder and store all examples and notes of what your likes and dislikes are. This makes it easier for the the contractor to be on the same page as you regarding colors, layout, and cost structuring.
Create a Budget
A Finished basement can easily run into a high five figure or even 6 figure if you consider a home theater, full kitchen, a bar and other items. It is important to be realistic and not over improve the area. A good idea is to see what homes in your area are selling for with a finished basement. This will give you an idea of how much you should budget for the project. If you intent to stay in the home for longer than five years, you can increase the budget by 10-20%.
Request pictures and referrals on contractor
A good contractor should have this available without you requesting it. One contractor we considered hiring had a CD of his work and at the end of the CD it gave a referral list. We were impressed with his work and his ability to work within our budget. His CD contained a range of basements he did from the lower to the high end. It also gave us some ideas of what we could do with the space as well. A good contractor or basement finishing company should be able to work within any reasonable budget.
Request a breakdown of the cost
Your contractor or basement finishing company should be able to provide you with a cost breakdown of each area to be completed. Don’t accept a single price for the project. By breaking it down section by section it let you the homeowner make adjustment. For example if you wanted a specific type of counter top for your spare kitchen, you may be able to reduce to a less expensive tile in the bathroom to get it.
Contractor works around basement structures
Most basements contain HVAC, furnaces, water heaters, plumping and other items that need to be considered in the plan. Your contractor should consider how to tuck away these items so that the beauty of the basement is continuous, yet easy access still remains.
Contractor or Company pulls a permit
Most cities require that contractors pull permits. Do not try and cheat on this. If you complete this project, and years from now decide to sell the home, you will face several issues. One, if the permit was never pulled you may find yourself required by the city to redo it according to present day code. Second, if the home is advertised with a finished basement yet there is no record of it, you will lose the added value in the listing. Third, someone in your community could notify the city especially if they went to the trouble of pulling a permit. It does affect your property tax record with the county.
Removal of Personal Items/Trash
Your contractor should provide you with a detail of the do’s and don’t included in your project. A reputable contractor should have a dumpster onsite to remove any trash. They should also tell you if their service includes removal of personal items in the basement. In most cases the company will ask you to remove your personal items to another room or area in the basement that is not going to be completed.
The basement contractor should take into consideration the lack of natural light in the basement and should space lighting well enough in the basement so that lighting is balanced.
License and Insured
Most contractors sub out the work. This means they hire other companies, they work with, to complete items like electrical, plumbing, painting and more. It is important to make sure that the company is licensed and has proper insurance. The last thing you need is a problem with your own insurance due to a injury on the job.
This is extremely important. Does your contractor offer a warranty? As I stated before, most of the work is subcontracted out, and although the contractor checks on the work being completed he is also relying on it being done correctly. Your basement could look beautiful now, but could develop problems 6 months later. What will your contractor do about it?
A basement being completed is a wonderful and easy addition. It allows the homeowners to customize a space that before had little enjoyment value. Have fun, be creative and make good use of the layout.