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Old 02-03-2018, 03:07 PM   #1
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Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


I'm looking to finish a basement. The quotes we have been getting are very high. I think I'm going to go the route of hiring out subs myself. I'm curious what you think is a reasonable cost for the following items to be done. Also, I'm not pulling permits, this home is 150 years old. I just want a basic space to be finished to the extent we can use it. Finished square footage will be 607 ft. Can you please ballpark what you think the following line items should cost:

--DRYWALL ON WALLS: Actual wall square footage that needs drywall is 714 sq. ft. Want to use green or purple board (mold resistant drywall). Prefer smooth finish. Willing to paint it myself if needed.

--DRYWALL ON CEILING: 607 ft. Will need to build soffits and access for various ceiling protrusions and valves. Also paperless drywall needed.

--Framing 100' of wall that is 7' tall. Should be treated wood.

I've already got an electrician that will install 18 can lights and two outlets for $2000 which seems good to me.

I also am planning to hire someone to spray foam insulation on the exterior walls, so that work should not be included in the above estimates. I don't plan to use a vapor barrier.

So far, I've gotten quotes that are 30-40k for finishing 600ft which include sheet vinyl flooring, drywall, framing, painting, basic electric including 18 can lights, NO HVAC work, NO BATHROOM, NO WATERPROOFING. Isn't that way high??? This will have zero plumbing work.

Please enlighten me. When I use the cost calculators online, none of the local contractors are even close. I've had 6 bids. I live in the Chicago suburbs.

Also, as a side item..what would you expect to pay to have a crappy staircase to the basement rebuilt? I will paint it. Just your basic 12 stair staircase.

Thank you for any help!
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Old 02-03-2018, 03:31 PM   #2
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Re: Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


Pricing varies quite a lot from place to place. I've seen pricing between $35 & $70 per drywall board. So we really can't give you prices.
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Old 02-03-2018, 05:46 PM   #3
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Re: Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


Online calculators donít see job site specifics that can impact the contractors cost. Are these sheets of drywall going into a walkout basement or down a bulkhead entry ? Either of those is cheaper than going thru the house, making a tight turn into a set of narrow and steep stairs, down into the basement.

Howís the parking ? When working in some of the SF neighborhoods, you either pay fees for parking some distance from your site, or you are playing roulette with the meter maids. Some guys will price X number of parking tickets into a job.

There are many other things a contractor will see that will cause him to price up or down from a ďsimilarĒ job, so I class online estimates as info, but not usable. Most of them have a national average price from a couple of years ago, escalate it a bit for inflation, then they might use some local cost of living factor to escalate those prices. Some even attempt it by zip code. But that doesnít cover those site specific changes.

The 6 bids between $30k and $40k is not a surprising range of bids. Review them to make sure everyone is bidding on the same products or an acceptable substitution. Then pick the guy you want to do the job. Itís not just the cheapest bid.

IMO, trying to hire subs and coordinate the work is more than a lot of people can handle. Itís bound to slow the job down and often costs more money. Pull the wrong sub in out of order, You can almost guarantee it will trigger an extra by one (or more) other subs.

I also strongly suggest that you go the legal route and pull the permits. The AHJ inspector gives you another set of eyes on whether itís built to code.
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Old 02-03-2018, 07:06 PM   #4
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Re: Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


A couple things...
Pull the permits. Without them you'll have a tough time when you sell the house. If you're going to be the GC on this, then most legitimate subs will need permits anyway or you'll have to work with the sketchy ones that aren't licensed or like to play fast and loose with the rules and codes.
150 year old house? How's the moisture in the basement? Finishing a basement only to have it get moldy or flood in the next big storm is a real waste of money.
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Old 02-03-2018, 07:55 PM   #5
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Re: Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


That is around 50 to 60 dollars a square foot.
New construction is over $200 a sq ft locally for me.

Not sure about pricing at your location, but it looks cheap from here.
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:52 PM   #6
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Re: Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


It's just too difficult to answer questions like this. If you got 6 bids, that's going above and beyond the norm of 3 bids. I'd say being in Chicago is a place where construction costs are exceptionally high so your 6 bids, if they're all in the same ball park, might just be the going rate in your area.

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Old 02-03-2018, 09:51 PM   #7
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Re: Outrageous basement quotes--what should I be paying


I've finished hundreds of basements. Those prices sound about right. If you imagine you will save money doing the job yourself, please get a copy of "Psychotic Remodeling" (available on Amazon) and read it thoroughly before you start. It was written to save time. money, and hassles on the job. Who doesn't want that? Good luck.
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