You might need a safe place for the kids to play, a home gym, a home office, or all of the above, and you need to finish your basement on the cheap. We’re compiling every money saving method we can find so you can use that unfinished space without breaking the bank. We will guide you on what you can skimp on without paying for it later, and what you can DIY. Keep reading to learn how to save money when you finish your basement.
Do or Die, DIY
Before you start laying vinyl tiles, or framing rooms yourself, it’s best to come up with a plan. For a handy homeowner, anything is possible, but there are still codes and regulations to follow when finishing a basement. In addition, some materials do not do well in basements, and others are perfect. Also, some materials can last a lifetime, others only last a few years. So, before you start finishing your own basement, be sure to do your homework, pull the proper permits, and come up with a strategy and budget. Call your local planning and zoning official for the details on what you can and cannot do with your unfinished basement before you start swinging hammers. Otherwise, you may wind up sinking thousands into your finished basement then have to demolish and change things that are already built.
The first steps after contacting the officials are:
- Mold mitigation
- Check the sump pump, install one, or replace if necessary. A backup is never a bad idea.
- Add a dehumidifier to keep moisture out of your new building materials.
If you’re unsure if there is mold to treat, if the basement is waterproof, or if your sump pump works, call in the professionals.
Basements cost around $2500 to finish very minimally, with a lot of DIY, or up to around $25,000 for extensive remodeling. The biggest cost is waterproofing. If you have an old, leaky basement, it is going to require a lot of work to keep water out of it, and keep the finished result safe from flooding. Waterproofing costs about $4-5000. But once you know that your basement will stay dry, many of the following work can be a DIY project.
After waterproofing, the next big cost is materials. You can save on materials by reclaiming lightly used materials such as lumber for framing and lighting, but this will cost you time. Something to consider when you are compiling your materials list is whether you will be dropping and soundproofing the ceiling. If someone is going to be sleeping in the basement, they’ll need a sound barrier to quiet the people walking above.
Then there is the design, and the labor. If you can work with your planning and zoning department, and are experienced enough to design the basement yourself, this will result in big savings. In addition, taking care of the labor yourself saves a lot of money, but you’ll be trading monetary costs for time costs. However, DIY homeowners usually enjoy the process of home improvement, and will make that trade whenever they can. Labor and design usually add up to about 25% of the cost.
Where to Save on Storage
If you must have cabinets, reclaimed cabinets are often in amazing shape. You can still customize them with new hardware, and paint them if you like. They may even come with a countertop cut to fit the floor cabinets. But if you want to finish your basement even cheaper, consider building some open shelves, or using stackable storage cubes.
Save on Flooring
Your flooring choices can make or break your basement finishing budget. Tile is always the best choice. Moisture is not a worry, and tile lasts a very long time. But if tile just isn’t in your budget, a subflooring system that creates space between your flooring and the concrete below will give you more options. As long as your basement is waterproofed, you can choose a snap together, floating laminate floor for a hardwood look on a budget. Luxury vinyl tile works just as well, but there is even less worry about moisture with that option. But still, we always recommend tile for the long term benefits. If your budget doesn’t allow for any type of flooring, painting the cement floor works well, and can provide extra protection from moisture. Some rugs in a living area, or some mats in the kid’s play area can be added for a better feel, and safer play.
Where to Save on Insulation and Walls
Your basement is underground, therefore it is easier to maintain a temperature. However, this temperature is going to be much cooler than the rest of your home. Especially in winter. You can get away with not running HVAC into your basement, and not insulating if necessary. But it will be very difficult to keep it warm in winter. Not bad for a gym, but not good for a den. A compromise is that you can skip drywall on the existing basement walls, and paint them, but still frame up rooms in between. You may even choose to hang curtains to separate the space, create a nice feel, and skip the framing and drywall.
Save on Your Basement Ceiling
If you are not dropping or soundproofing your basement ceiling, hang some nice cloth to hide the wires, pipes, and joists, and create a much nicer feel in the space.
Where to Save on Lighting
If you want your basement to be a livable space, that single pull string bulb hanging from a wire isn’t enough. However, you don’t have to wire up the entire basement. If you need to save, use lamps. But if you are framing and building walls, you will at least need some outlets to run lamps. Your wiring has to be done with a licensed electrician, and up to code. We do not recommend DIY electrical work.
What Not to DIY
Please do not start any DIY work that you are not confident in, and never DIY anything with gas lines or electrical. It’s always best to call in the experts for the dangerous home tasks. Keep in mind that you want your finished basement to resemble the home upstairs. The safest bet is always to call a qualified contractor, like us here at Flooring Masters.
If you’re looking to finish your basement in New Albany, Indiana, don’t hesitate to call us here at Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers. We provide our customers with lifetime relationships, and take great care in our work. We also provide the best options for perfect floors and other renovations. Schedule a free estimate today!