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Old 11-02-2018, 05:52 PM   #1
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steps to finish a basement


Hello, New here, bought our first house a couple of years and looking to do some work to it. Of course, short on time, experience or tools but I'm game to learning and doing what needs to be done. Our house was built in 1997 in Maine. A previous owner started to finish our walkout basement meaning there are some sheetrocked walls and extensive unclear wiring for a media room I'm guessing. Our circuit breaker is full. There are essentially 3 rooms which include a room with the oil furnace, hot water heater, etc. A separate room currently is used for storage that we'd like to make an exercise room and a large room. Currently the large room is used for the kids to play and for the adults to exercise. My vision is to finish the exercise room (really just a door, floor and ceiling), finish the utility room (mostly just a door) and then the main area will be a hang out for the kids and friends for now, and a theater/ media room in 10-15 years.

Not entirely certain where to start. We've spoken to a few contractors but have had difficulty with follow up. I'd like to do whatever work I can.

The first issue: we initially had a water problem that affected the wall that includes the walkout door. We fixed the gutters, the deck above the basement and installed a French drain and so far have not had any problems. Part of the wall and the door are rotten and I have a contractor who is going to replace it/ repair the wall. The previous owner stored a cord of wood next to a sheetrocked wall. I removed the wood and found some black mold and extensive evidence of rodents. The sheetrock is painted. It also sits directly on the cement floor.

My guess is that this needs to be all removed, correct? If I do remove it is there something I can temporarily cover the insulation with so that my kids can continue playing downstairs? Maybe just sheets of plastic? There are some walls that I want to knock down to open the space, for example the previous owner framed a closet under the stairs but it's an odd shape. I also need to figure out the electrical as well as figuring out a way to heat the basement so I wouldn't replace the sheetrock immediately, something that I'd hire a contractor for eventually.

Suggestions on a step wise approach to finishing the basement?
1. need to remove black mold sheetrock
2. need to temporarily cover insulation (don't want the kids/ rodents in the insulation)
3. need to knock down unwanted walls (the contractors have said that they are non-weight bearing)
4. then what? I know I need to figure out heating (some have suggested a pellet stove or a rinnai heater), deal with figuring out the electrical/ lighting stuff (I've spoken to a couple of electricians who haven't been to excited to dive into what the previous owner did), for the concrete floor I thought I'd etch and stain it, and use area rugs, for the kids for now, and then figure out the ceiling. All have said I'd be safer with a drop down ceiling although I'd rather sheetrock it. We'd also like to put in a half bath but would need a contractor for that.

Also, thoughts on finding a reliable contractor? We've talked to a few found through random advertisement as well as trying to arrange things with a couple of guys who did work for friends. One guy did great with out deck work, etc., but has been very difficult to get him to commit to other work.

Thanks for your thoughts. I apologize for the long post.
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Old 11-02-2018, 06:14 PM   #2
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Re: steps to finish a basement


I wouldn't let the children play there until you finish the job. Yes, remove the damaged drywall. I don't like the idea of insulation directly against a block wall, if that's what you have. I would use rubberized flooring instead of carpet which has too many chemicals in it. I wouldn't want children playing on a carpet & breathing those chemicals. I had a girl friend who installed a new carpet & it killed her dog.
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Old 11-02-2018, 06:22 PM   #3
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Re: steps to finish a basement


1,Water issues, leaks mold and asses the construction of exterior walls. Home owners build some inappropriate things. Yes you can cover insulation with plastic for the kids.


2.plumbing, rough in, may need to dig into floor and or may need to be moved awy from exterior wall to allow for proper construction.


3, electrical plan where to what for, just the plan for now. May include a sub panel for the basement.


4 HVAC plan


5, frame all the walls ,
more rough plumbing, HVAC electrical, insulation, drywall.
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Old 12-05-2018, 04:15 PM   #4
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Re: steps to finish a basement


Just about finished with my basement. The above steps seems about right to me. One thing I also did is take care of anything upstairs that I would need access to the basement to do. For example, I ran ethernet lines in every room from the basement (have my modem down there in the utility room). That would be impossible to do once it's closed off (or very difficult at least for the first floor).

For my first step, I took good time and care in making sure I had a wall assembly that would last and avoid any moisture or other issues in the future. What I did was:

- First insulated the rim joists with 2 inch XPS (used Foamular) - glued them right to the rim joist and sealed any gaps with spray foam (used cans). I then added R19 rockwool on top of that. This made a huge difference - I did it in mid January in New Jersey and it was freezing down there but after this it was in the 60s.

- I then replaced the windows with a much better quality that were insulated (argon). That helped a lot.

- Third, I glued 1.5 inch XPS (with the right glue so it didn't melt it) to the concrete foundation all the way up to the joists, including the top of the concrete block, filled any gaps with spray foam and taped off all seams with the right tape (3M tape for XPS). The idea here is to let the wall "breathe" but also prevent too much moisture from coming in.

Page 14 here is essentially what I did:https://buildingscience.com/file/561...token=K2sjeCYg

Once I did all that you could notice a nice difference in the air down there and the average humidity and temp are about 45 and 65 respectively. I have a sump pump already so there were no moisture issues, just efflorescence on one wall.

Then i started framing following the Building Science recommendations. Maybe too much work on just the wall assembly, but I'm happy with it and I don't worry about moisture. Make sure you fireblock! You can definitely do all this work yourself with a razor blade and a caulking gun. Definitely don't underestimate how long it will take.
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Old 12-05-2018, 04:18 PM   #5
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Re: steps to finish a basement


Oh also, yes definitely make sure you plan it out well. I didn't and just jumped in and later realized I wanted to close off the gym, do in wall speakers, add a bar and create a media closet. That cost me a lot of time revising the framing and electrical and money to update the permits... I could have avoided all of that if I didn't just jump right in, but whatever it was all fun.
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