A couple of years ago, Sarah and I decided to do a basement renovation. The ground level floor plan of our house didn’t leave much for living space. We wanted to expand our square footage, and we had this unfinished basement sitting there waiting for some work. The great thing about our situation is that we both are able to do renovation work (yes Sarah can use a drill). We both make decisions on design, and then we both get our hands dirty making it happen. Additions included an entertainment area, a little eating area, a wet bar and a 2-piece bathroom.
The second half of the basement was left unfinished (storage, laundry and furnace room). A few months ago – we started to tackle a renovation on the 2nd half of the basement. One of my big regrets with the first renovation was that we didn’t take pictures of the progress and that is something we corrected this time through. So here is part one of our 2nd basement renovation. Part two will follow once we are finished the area.
The second half of our basement is made up of 2 storage areas, a furnace room and a laundry room. There are low ducts for the majority of the space, cement floors that constantly kick up dust and of course the ugly electrical panel. This renovation wasn’t about creating new living space. We had no plans to hang out in the laundry room on a Saturday night. This renovation had a few specific objectives.
- Relocate our kitten’s litter box from our main bathroom into an area where guests wouldn’t be.
- Have proper flooring to stop the constant flow of concrete dust – and to prevent having to rewash any laundry that fell when being removed from the dryer.
- Extend the first portion of the basement renovation to open up the space.
- Increase the efficiency of our storage spaces.
- Finish all of the unfinished areas of our house.
I’ll share the before and half way point photos at the end of the article.
While we love renovations, we are also personal finance bloggers so it wouldn’t feel right to have this post and not talk about money. Because we had done so much work on the first part of the basement, it was important to us to not skimp out on quality for the second renovation. We were going to have the door between the two spaces open. If we skimped out on the details it would detract from the work we had already done. We sat down and crunched out a budget.
Renovation budgets can be pretty difficult because most of the time renovations are difficult. I also think that renovation budgets are one of the most frequently revamped types of budgets. There are so many unknowns and until you get started, sometimes you don’t have an answer for everything. We started planning for this renovation about 9 months before the first stud went in. It was a pretty basic budget that accounted for what we knew we would need. Framing (lumber), drywall, lights, tiles, paint and some cabinets. We figured we could get through the renovation for around $5,000.
The only labour we needed to pay for was for mudding/taping which I’ll explain later. It is a task that we could probably do ourselves, but a poor job would ruin the look of the entire basement. There is an art to it so we knew we’d have to bring in a pro for that. I’ll save the details on how we form our renovation budgets for another post – but that was what we were looking to spend.
The first step in the basement renovation was to complete the framing. Despite the duct work, I wanted to put a drywall ceiling in. We played with some other ideas like painting the ceiling/duct work or leaving the ceiling unfinished – but in the end we agreed for the 2 inches we’d lose it was worth it to drywall.
One thing we did differently for this renovation from the first basement project was that we used metal track for the top and bottom plates for the framing. These are the horizontal pieces that you secure your studs to. Metal track can be a bit of a pain, but unlike wood the tracks are completely straight which is great for making straight walls, this was a key learning from the last project. You can use metal studs as well, but I stuck with wood. I find wood studs hold weight a bit better, and provide a bit more flexibility for running electrical and plumbing.
Electrical and Plumbing
Before you cover all that open space up with drywall, you need to make sure you run any electrical and plumbing services you’ll need. Since this area wasn’t going to be a space we’d spend much time in I didn’t go crazy with installing outlets. I put one on a wall for plugging in an iron and one by the central vacuum outlet in case we wanted to run the powerhead. I also had to add lights for the storage rooms, 1 for the furnace room and add another sconce in the hallway.
Plumbing wasn’t extensive, we were going to be replacing the laundry basin so that had to be taken out and prepped for a new one. I also installed an electrical conduit/pipe from above the electrical panel down the hall and into the furnace room. This was just in case I ever needed to run any new electrical cables I wouldn’t need to cut into our ceiling to do it.
Remember safety first with electrical work – and if your area requires a permit make sure to follow any laws/by-laws that apply.
Once everything is framed, the next step is drywall. When you are doing a drywall ceiling there are two options – do the ceiling first or do the walls first. While there are resources giving the pros for both, it really doesn’t matter that much. Just don’t try and do half one way and half another. Besides the material, all the drywall cost us was a pack of beer and some pizza for some friends/family that came to help out.
Once the drywall is in, it is time for mudding and taping. This is a long and dirty process. Basically the seams are taped and drywall compound is applied to the screw holes and to seal in the tape. Once that dries, it gets sanded down to as smooth as possible which leaves a layer of dust on everything in the area. If you can – seal the room including any duct work that might spread the dust throughout your entire house. Then the second coat – more sanding. Possibly a third coat depending on the quality of the first two. A pro typically gets it done in two coats. In the “Half-Way Point” pictures below you can see the results at that stage.
The Next Steps
The next steps in finishing the area are painting, then tiles, cabinets, trim work and some final touches. This is where the area will slowly stop looking like a construction zone and you see how the area is going to look with a bit of imagination.
In terms of our budget, we have spent about $2,600 so far. There were a few things that cost more than anticipated but we have already picked our tiles and they are under budget which should make up for the overages nicely.
Keep an eye out for part two of our basement renovation – and feel free to provide any comments, opinions or suggestions below.
Before And After Photos
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