First Basement Renovation

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Posted by: from Mississauga
3/3/2013 at 1:15:37 PM


I own a small handyman company, doing small to med renovations. You know eventually you have to start somewhere and expand your business appropriately.

Recently I got referred to a basement renovations job. I'm yet to give a quote but I will next week. Chances are that if the price is ok for them then I have the job. This would be my first basement reno, even though I've done all the jobs in a basement before, this would be my first full scale start to finish project of this size. Personally I believe I'm ready for it.

What I am worried about is making sure I don't forget about anything and how to price accordingly. (They want a finshed 1 rec room, bathroom and 1 room for sure, my guess is 700 sq2 but Im yet to measure).

Can someone please shed some light on things I should be thinking about and about some ideas with how much material should cost me? Also time it would take and anything else helpful you could think of?

Thanks a lot.


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Date/Time3/3/2013 at 2:44:34 PM

Hi Filip,

If you are a small "handyman" company, I would assume that is your specialty. I would not dive into pricing a job for someone in an area that you are still unfamiliar with as it may cost you a lot more by the time the project is complete. I'm sure you have the skills to complete the physical work but the pricing/estimating is also another skill that is needed that comes with experience.

My advice would be to find a colleague/friend who completes this kind of work and go over pricing/timelines, etc with them prior to estimating or taking on a job.

Getting the job, and then learning how to price it, is a recipe for disaster which may push your "handyman" company back a few steps.

The timeline and pricing of this renovation can vary greatly depending on how you are building it and what trades, if any you are using.

I wouldn't want to see someone with good intentions go over their heads and potentially make their situation worse.

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Date/Time3/3/2013 at 3:37:02 PM


I would be concerned that you have all the expectation covered that the local building inspector expects. Fixing something is different from building from scratch. If you can talk to the inspectors in the area, It will help getting called on some little thing may cause the customer to get worried. Charging enough to cover the unexpected. Use a good contract and write in what you don't cover.

All your sub-trades are you to the customer. So choose the best electricians plumbers and heating contractors. Reputation is everything.

Remember the customer comes first even if it hurts a little. Because in your first job it just might. Midnight is regular working hour if there is a problem. And much much more. You will love it or hate it.

Good luck, most of us needed it in the beginning.

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Date/Time3/3/2013 at 4:14:49 PM

Hi Filip,

Generally I quote basements between $30 and $50 psf depending upon finished.


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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time3/3/2013 at 4:37:26 PM

Get a licensed electrical contractor as well for the electrical as the liabilities could be on your shoulders if there is an electrical fire in the basement. ESA inspectors are heavy on people doing what they want with wiring without a permit.

Codes are changing monthly and sometimes we need yearly training on keeping up to date to ensure safe practices are carried out. Things like dedicated circuits, arc faults, GFI, bonding and circuit loading are very important.

I am sure you will have better things to look after than the 2 days of wiring a contractor to get your job done compared to 4-5 days doing it yourself.

Cheers and good luck! Welcome to the jungle... ;)


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Date/Time3/3/2013 at 6:29:31 PM


First, congratulations on taking the next step. As with any project, get all the information that you can. Such as, what does the customer what, totally finished basement or just to basic drywall level. Are you insulating the walls? ... soundproof the ceiling?? drywall ceiling or dropped?? quality toilet and sink or economy brand?? Again, find out as much as you can.

I ask the customer to purchase their material rather than going through me. Two reasons; the coustmer can buy according to his/her budget and can't come back on you. (You can "suggest" but leave the decision up to them), second, if there are issues, and you have to walk away, all you are out is you time, not the cost of material.

Now that you've thought about this, make a list of everything from nails/screws to lights and fans and plugs and switches and type of drywall and type of doors and windows and MOST IMPORTANT ... permits. You can also speak with a building inspector about your project. They are, usually, helpful ... especially if you explain your situation ... don't be shy, ask them for help.

I also assume that you are going to get an electrician and plumber to do what they do? It is well worth it! If you do something and there is a problem (e.i. a flood or electrical fire) who's to blame?? Don't take a chance. If you don't know the trades people, shop around and get prices. It isn't brain science, Filip, but take your time and you'll be fine.

As to pricing, think about what amount of time it takes to do things (like framing a wall and drywall). Use you experience as a guide. I would "suggest" an ESTIMATE ... not a quote! (explain to your client that an estimate MAY vary ...but that you'll keep your customer advised of any changes. With this figure in mind, I would go on a hourly basis ... so you know how you are doing versus the estimate.

Once you've done one full basement you'll have an idea of what it takes and be better prepared for the next one. Just be honest and up front and you'll do fine.

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Date/Time3/4/2013 at 12:09:06 PM

Hi Filip,

We price basement suites between 30 and 50$/sqft. This will depend on the price of finishing materials they want. These jobs are very simple if you know what you are doing.

Things most people forget...

-Fire stopping all frost walls and drops.

- Prepping vapour barrier for drops and frost walls

- Double check all electrical positioning, lights/switches.


Good Luck

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Date/Time3/4/2013 at 12:23:06 PM

Hi Filip,

Estimating and costing are varying depending on the source of materials and your labor cost. Average price per sqft with average grade of materials is about $30. However, I would prefer to do the estimate yourself by listing the items and its local cost and you could add your labor cost and any other trades would help you to complete the job to be on the safe side.

After completing your first project would be much easier for you to provide much better and accurate prices in the future and also you will learn from your mistakes that would be take place with your first experience. Time frame for such job would be 3-4 weeks, may a bit more for you as a start.

Wish u the best of luck!


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Terry from TMT Mechanical in Dunrobin
Date/Time3/4/2013 at 8:42:36 PM

If it has a high efficient gas furnace and it has black abs pipes for the vents you should have them replaced if you need to box them in.

Any work on the furnace I will need to replace the vent pipes with the new white 636 vent pipe. It makes the home owner mad when I need to rip off there new ceiling. Even if its 5 years later they will think of you because you had the for thought to have it done.

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Date/Time3/26/2013 at 1:43:24 AM

Good luck Filip, I did a basement in Brampton completely by myself. Took 7 weeks though.

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