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Old 05-10-2013, 11:42 PM   #1
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Finishing a basement


Hello guys, this is a fairly detailed question so sorry for the long post.

My family recently purchased a home with an unfinished basement. The house comes with supplies to finish it such as drywall. My father is a carpenter at heart and loves to do things himself haha hence the post in this forum. The thing is I don't know if it is possible for him, my uncle and I to do the basement ourselves, adding a room to the basement space. So my first question is can we do it ourselves or is it recommended to hire a contractor. If we can do it ourselves, is there any tips or tutorials you can direct me to?

My second question is if we hire a contractor instead, how can we make sure that we don't get overcharged. In other words what do you look for when hiring a contractor. Is an expensive one always better then a cheaper one?

My last question is how much does it cost to install a window in a basement?
Thanks in advance!

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Old 05-11-2013, 12:12 AM   #2
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Finishing a basement


you may want to edit your profile to include your location. many times answers to questions are based on location. you'll see what I mean below ....

you certainly can do (at least some of it), things such as electrical and plumbing you may need to hire out. a call to your local building department can determine what you are allowed to do, and what permits if any are needed. public library is an excellent free source for books and manuals. the big box stores also have literature on diy projects. You can find lots of information videos on youtube and if you surf the internet you probably can even find Jimmy Hoffa

if you want to hire a contractor some of the best advise I can give you is to get references from the contractors and then contact their past clients and discuss their working relationship. most important would they hire that contractor again for another project. get at least three quotes from contractors, and again references. sitting down and talking with them what does your gut tell you? do they listen to what you are saying? do they explain things so that you can understand it, or do they try and confuse you with technospeak? are they trying to rush you to sign on the dotted line? if you get a bad feeling you're probably right! call your local building department and find out if you need a permit for the work then ask the builder do you need a permit? if they say no after the building department said yes I wonder what other things they might short change ....

check to see that they are licensed (if applicable) and are they insured. I tell my clients to the contractor's insurance agent provide a certificate of insurance. Check with your home owner's insurance company and let them know you're doing work, you may want to have insurance coverage for the work in case something goes wrong .....

as far as price for installing a window in the basement, get quotes from local contractors. this is the only way you'll know for sure. anyone on here would be guessing as we do not know where you are, what the condition of the basement is, and well as other items that have to be figured in that we don't know. Besides, "How much will it cost?" Asking for price estimates here.

don't know if this is much help, but I do wish you well with your project. should you decide to DIY it this is an excellent source of information and know how from some very knowledgeable and talented people.

Good luck!

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Old 05-11-2013, 12:49 PM   #3
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Finishing a basement


hi popo619, I completely agree with Gary on licenses and permits. to answer your questions, I'll try to put this in layman's terms as much as possible. NO, more expensive is not always better! experience means much more, time= money. if you know the tricks to do right the first time? you can do faster and cheaper than going over and over changing it.

there are a few basic things that hold true no matter what you're building. a simple room in a basement, or a 30 story building? it all begins at the bottom, if starting out wrong? will finish wrong! #1 never assume anything is true, your basement walls are there yes, true square and plumb, who knows? until you can prove they are? don't try to do your work based on others' basic rules= 3'4'=5' that means like the letter "L" if the vertical line is 4' and the horizontal line is 3" from tip to tip of line will be 5' or any multiple thereof.

3'4'5,6'8'10',9'12'15' and so on. once true square lines are established, work from those likes only that's the math to remember,3'+4'=5' the physics are#1= water runs level if allowed air. a clear hose full of water can drape over anything laying on the floor, as long as no higher than the ends of hose "make sure no bubbles in water" if both ends of hose are unplugged? the water at the ends of hose will be dead level, no matter if hose is 10 feet long or a thousand feet long? that is your level line.#2= gravity pulls straight down, tack a nail to your ceiling joist, hook a string on it tie anything you like on other end of string, when string stops swinging, it will be dead plumb. keep all your proven true marks marked clearly and work only from those marks. you can offset from those marks if needed? say you need to plumb up from a mark on the floor for a soffit? and a sewer pipe is in the way, offset the mark to away from pipe then measure back to plumb line "don't forget the offset!

chalk your lines as long as possible, keeping string tight as you can if wall is to be say 24 feet long? don't try to chalk lines in 6 or 8 foot increments, sometimes its hard to roll the string perfectly on the mark. 1/16" here and there in the total length can lead to 1/4" in 24" exact is exact there are no+or-! a - on the bottom plus a+ on the top= 1/8 do that on each floor/story can end up 3-5 inches out of plumb!

the cost of window can vary a lot, depends on structure to be cut out and framing required to install it? yes the three of you can do the project or even two of you. if you work together and from same plan know what each other is doing/saying to do and you should be fine

good luck
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:24 AM   #4
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Finishing a basement


thanks for the input guys, especially the first dude your answer was very clear
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:19 AM   #5
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Finishing a basement


If you do choose to use a contractor --have plans so they are all talking about the same job.

The plans should include not only the floor plan but the materials.

Steel studs or wood? Kind of insulation. Number of electrical openings--type of switches and lighting.

Quality and style of trim-will it be caulked ready for paint or is that the painters job?

Drywall finish---ceilings? drop or drywall?

You get the idea----I've seen basements that are nicer that the main part of the house--and some that look like Ed and Ed did the work between beers.
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