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Old 01-06-2014, 05:54 AM   #1
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


Hey all, so I'm contemplating finishing off my basement over the next few years. I'm on the fence as I'm concerned about the additional tax hit I would take on a "finished" basement, sure it would increase the property value but my property for whatever reason seems to be one of the highest taxed properties in the sub-division, so for resale sake I'm concerned any higher property taxes will be a turn off. 4 bed, 3 Bath 2200 square feet - $4600 assessed at 215K, ~12 years old. This is in St. Croix County, WI.

However, I'd like to do some "prep" work just in case, and at least make the space more "comfortable" yet unfinished. Right now the basement is framed and insulated, with a couple of basic electrical circuits...area lighting, sump pump, couple duplex outlets. I would like to throw up some drywall to close off the furnace/water heater space, so I need to consider outlets/switches prior to doing so. However, I would probably leave the backside wall open to the furnace/water heater area, so I would still have access to add these outlets at a later time I guess.

All the homes in this area seem to have the load centers installed in the garage, making it that much more difficult to add circuits to the basement space. Mine is on the outside wall furthest from the living space, I assume because the electrical feed is on the outside wall opposite the load center. The garage is insulated and covered in drywall too. Thankfully the dry was is not mud and taped, so I can pull down the drywall around the load center for better access if I want to do some more investigative work.

Given the situation, I think it makes plenty of sense to hire an electrician and have them install a sub-panel in my basement. Nothing more at this point. As I progress with the basement, I would think this would help bring future costs down from an electrical install point. But, what size panel should I expect? I have 200A service to the main panel, because I already have a lighting and basic circuits I'm not sure how much more power I would need. Off the the top-of-my head I would guess 60A would be fine. I believe this would be about a 50ft run of cable from the load center to the basement, maybe less depending on the routing. Any ballpark costs I could expect? Just want to get a feel before I start calling for quotes only to be surprised, are talking $1000+?

I'm expecting a family in the coming years, so I may move the office from the 1st floor bedroom to the "comfortable" yet unfinished basement and the 1st floor bedroom becomes a play room. Or, I just throw some carpet and extra lighting in the basement and that space becomes a "playroom". Depending on how the family grows, the basement morphs to a finished space.

Regardless, I think a sub-panel is a first step in moving the basement along, would you agree with my thought-process?

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Old 01-06-2014, 06:06 AM   #2
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


lay out the basement ... lighting, cable tv, internet connections, phone jacks etc and see how many circuits you need .. go from there ..

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Old 01-06-2014, 06:16 AM   #3
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


If your not adding a bathroom or bedroom down there and just making the area more usable by adding more outlets and a simple wall I see no reason it would effect your taxes.
Adding that sub panel sounds like a great idea to me.
Pain in the butt to have to make your way out of there to go find a tripped breaker.
Need to sit down and figure out for sure what your plans are for now and in the future down there. A whole lot cheaper to run a little more then you think you may need, then to have to go back and run a new line and change the panel.
60 amps would be more then enough I would think.
Some things you may want to ask about when you get the permit are:
Do I need to run the wires in conduit.
Do I need Arc Fault breakers.
Do I need 15 or 20amp. breakers.
That wall your thinking of building may need 5/8 fire code on the back side and a vent added for make up air.
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Old 01-06-2014, 06:48 AM   #4
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


Thanks for the quick replies! Right now the basement is rectangular, 1/4 of it has the furnace/water heater and "storage" space and will remain unfinished. This is the area that I would close off. Right now the primary wall I would drywall already does exist, as it's the load bearing wall for the house going down the center of the basement. I forgot to mention the stairway leading down to the basement is actually between the furnace and the wall I would like to drywall, the staircase is already dry-walled heading down to the basement, the side of the wall facing the furnace is not dry-walled. It also does have a vent dropped to the base of the furnace (forced air, gas).

The other 3/4 is an "L" shape, so I would probably just create 3 electrical zones for each reaming 1/4 same with tv/internet/phone drops. Lighting design I have not thought much about.

I guess I would be surprised if I had to run wire in conduit, as the electrical that is in the basement is all NM wire. The rest of the home/basement are all 15A circuits, I would probably keep it the same just to be consistent.

Having the panel in the garage is a pain, especially when the wife parks all the way up to my shelves, leaves no walk path! Have to go around the car, then hurdle through the crap between the car and the panel! Thankfully we have not had much for trips! (Electrical and physical!)

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Old 01-06-2014, 06:56 AM   #5
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


Codes have changes since that house was built I'd guess so assume nothing.
You can fit a car in the garage?
That tells me you just do not have enough stuff.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:23 AM   #6
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Most communities (edit: in WI) will not allow a homeowner to pull a permit. A permit is a necessity for this. You need to check to see if you are allowed to pull the permit with the Building Department.

Circumventing the legalities surrounding adding more resale value to your home is not acceptable.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:18 AM   #7
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I know codes may vary, but I had a friend finish his basement and get around it being technically "finished" on his taxes by not installing a ceiling. Where he lived, the code stated that it needed a finished floor, ceiling, and walls to be a finished area. He just left the ceiling open/exposed and sprayed it all black (like you would see in a sports bar).
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:23 AM   #8
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typically, taxes go up in proportion to the value of the project. dropping, say, $30k to fully finish it out will have a radically different tax adjustment compared to just throwing up a few pieces of drywall.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:02 AM   #9
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I have a similar L-shaped finished basement with utility space in the remaining quarter of the space. There are only 2 circuits feeding the basement: 20A serving basement receptacles, and 15A serving basement lighting as well as lots of lighting elsewhere in the house. I didn't do this myself or make any decisions regarding it; it was this way when I purchased the home.

My basement is roughly 20'x20'. You may be over-anticipating your electrical needs for this space.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
Most communities (edit: in WI) will not allow a homeowner to pull a permit. A permit is a necessity for this. You need to check to see if you are allowed to pull the permit with the Building Department.

Circumventing the legalities surrounding adding more resale value to your home is not acceptable.
And I've never stated that I would be doing any electrical work nor circumventing legalities to cheat the system. Clearly stated I would hire an electrician to install the sub-panel as "prep" work for the future, I would probably have them quote out a few circuits (at least additional outlets) for the time being since they would be there anyway. Two additional hours of their time to add some outlets is convenient for me. When I figure out what I would want for lighting, I'd have them quote it again. Until then, a few lamps would be just fine.

I'm not going to have $10K at any given time to drop on the project, looking to piece-meal it as I go. Turn it into a part-time hobby.

You can't tell me throwing up a few sheets of drywall is going to require a permit.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:38 AM   #11
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One area I work in requires a permit for just about anything more than paint.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:54 PM   #12
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My basement is roughly 20'x20'. You may be over-anticipating your electrical needs for this space.
Originally I thought this, however the basement is plumbed for a future bathroom. I don't see adding this anytime soon, but it's possible. One of the walls of the basement is exposed to the back yard, so it's technically a walkout basement. And I could foresee putting up a shed in the back and running some electrical for lighting. Also some additional lighting for the backyard/landscaping. Coming from a new sub-panel in the basement would be much easier that coming from the garage.

The utility area is large enough that you could put in a workbench, so additional lighting/outlets for small tools would be nice.

Granted, I probably won't do all of this but at least it keeps the dream alive.
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:42 PM   #13
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


IMO

It's not going to do a lot of good to piece meal think as you have discovered... Piece meal build is up to you. As stated in post #2 by Philly master you need to sit down and draw up your building plan including everything on your wish list. As for the electrical requirements this is going to be determined on how much a demand load you have on your present service and how much your adding. Is your home all electric ? What is your service size and so on .. If your demand is adequate for the addition and your not going to add any crazy equipment like kilns or hot tubs etc... installing a 100 amp panel from a 200 amp service like yours is a typical and common installation. How much amperage capability you feed that panel will depend on your design needs for the addition ... number of circuits etc...

If your trying to do this on a cash basis it would make more sense to set up an account and put money in it over time. Then proceed when the funds are available. Otherwise you my waste more money than needed if the funds are never realized and the project never gets finished.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:20 PM   #14
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


Thanks guys, you know honestly....I just need a distraction. I won't get into it since I'm green here but life has been kicking my ass the past few years. As a result, many of my old hobbies/activities I am physically unable to do so I'm scraping to find something else to fill the "man" tank.

So naturally, home projects have dropped in my head as of late. I can put lights in a garage, paint a room....but that's all quick and easy.

I completely get where everyone is coming from in-terms of just doing it all at once and I agree in a perfect world that would be my approach. Sorry for the drama there, thanks for the feedback.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:10 PM   #15
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Prep to finish basement...Sub Panel?


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Thanks guys, you know honestly....I just need a distraction. I won't get into it since I'm green here but life has been kicking my ass the past few years. As a result, many of my old hobbies/activities I am physically unable to do so I'm scraping to find something else to fill the "man" tank.

So naturally, home projects have dropped in my head as of late. I can put lights in a garage, paint a room....but that's all quick and easy.

I completely get where everyone is coming from in-terms of just doing it all at once and I agree in a perfect world that would be my approach. Sorry for the drama there, thanks for the feedback.
based on what you have described, a 16-space sub with a 60 amp feeder should cover darn near anything you would want to do with a finished basement space. unless you plan on having multiple large loads like a large welder, electric oven, hot tub, etc., 60 amps will more than cover what you need. worse case scenario, you could always run another circuit from the main into the basement.

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