Need direction in basement renovation

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Posted by: from Windsor
6/22/2012 at 9:24:29 PM

I have just purchased a 50ish year old house with 50% finished basement. I would like to renovate the basement in phases (if possible) for budgeting purposes. Could anyone suggest the course of actions and types of contractors I should approach for each phase?

Let me describe the current state of the basement. In the 50% finished section: 60s-dated carpet, wood panel wall & ceiling, a wood-burning stove with broken glass. In the other 50% unfinished section: one shower stall, a fruit cellar, painted concrete floor & bare-concrete block wall. On the bare wall on the west and south corner, two small crack lines: one runs vertical (south) and one runs horizontal (west). A home inspector told me that it is not serious or urgent issue, but I need to keep an eye on it. There are three small windows, one each on South, North and West sides of the basement walls.

Here are things I want to do/have in the finished basement:

1. Open up the whole area of the basement, but section it out by Shoji screen/dividend into utility area, entertaining area with gas fireplace where it can also be used as guest quarter when needed.

2. A full bathrrom (3 or 4 pc)

3. An egress window on the west side (into the backyard)

How can I achieve my goal in phases? I would appreciate if you (contractors) could suggest me the steps and logical approaches. Each morning, I wake up with new idea of either checking the wall of the finished part to see how good the insulation is, ripping the wood-panel out and insulating every wall at once, ripping the carpet out, outing the wood-burning stove, buying a new gas fireplace, installing a new gas laundry dryer, and on and on, in different orders.

Please give me some insightful steps, and directions!!

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Date/Time6/22/2012 at 10:39:18 PM

Well, the best thing you can do it completely gut the whole basement. Get rid of all the old panelling, stove and other stinky old carpet. Start with a fresh slate.

For budgetary purposes, start with getting the cracks in the foundation fixed...if there are two you can see now, you may find more when you take the rest of the walls out.

Secondly, reframe the basement and divide the rooms up accordingly as per your plan...

Thirdly, get the basement wired and roughed in, and make it ready to insulate.

Fourth. Insluate it before winter....

Now you can spend time through the winter trying to find finishing materials like toilets, flooring and tile..etc.

Hope this helps.

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Victor from Alarmshield Inc. in Kitchener
Date/Time6/23/2012 at 8:40:58 AM


I just did a similar project last summer. Initially I thought of going with one general contractor that does it all. I quickly realized they are only good at one trade the other's they are so so with. Thus I ended up doing the general contract part myself, and hired trades for each task or did some work myself.

Example, I did the framing and put up the drywall, but then had the pro's come in and modded and tape. I bought the subfloor squares from home depot and then hired a floor guy to do engineered hardwood and cabinets. I had a company that does home automation I think alarmshield, come in and do all the phone, TV, internet, security type items same time the electrical contractor was doing his part. 3 weeks later we had a party.

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Date/Time6/23/2012 at 10:47:51 AM

First off get the cracks checked by a specialist. The inspector is not responsible for anything. You do not want to do any renovations to have it destroyed by water damage.

Hire a contractor that charges for estimates. The benefits of this is they will not hide any thing or miss anything too much. They are the true professionals. Have you ever gone to work for yourself or boss and said it okay you do not have to pay me today? They should bring in a designer with them, or can do it themselves depending on the years of service and experience. These contractors will be able to design you space, let you know what you will need.They list everything for materials you need for you renovation.

If they have not convinced you to go with them at this point. Ask some other contractors to bid on your project. Ask them upfront if they are licensed, insured, and worker compensation of some sort depending where you live. Let them know you would like to see proof when they come to estimate. This may be awkward but eliminates wasting your time. If they do not want to show you this, move on they have something to hide already. You do not want them working on your home. Let them know you have plans and they can estimate from them. They should be able to view the site to see what they are up against. No changes at this time, if some valid points are brought up write them down for later. Once your estimates are in you can decide and everyone has bid on the same thing.

When you do hire your contractor, if you liked any ideas you could ask them if there is a price difference for these changes.

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Date/Time6/24/2012 at 5:15:59 AM

I tend to agree with "Ben from Barbado" gut the basement,so you can get rid of possibly moldy & stinky materials and get a much better look at your basement over all condition.

Get concrete basement experts to come over have a look at all your cracks in basement(DO NOT rely on your building inspector) they are the subject matter experts.

The cracks best be repaired now..then ruin all your well earned and spent monies on the reno not to mention your personal belongings.

Look at getting at least 3 estimates from fully lic. reputable well rounded multi trade contractor companies,compare the estimates,ask all the questions that come to mind, and do not let yourself be rush into the project... allow the time to think it out, it is your money.

I do hope..this helps you out.

Have a wonderful day!

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Date/Time6/25/2012 at 7:09:13 PM

It would be best to remove all materials such as none load baring walls cielings and flooring and wall insulation. Clean floor so you can mark out walls to have a visual look at what you have in mind.

The foundation issues with the cracks being a block wall it might not be cracked to the outside, you won't know this untill you run a few tests.

Next step is plumbing rough in for your drains they will have to open the concrete floor if you want a proper system. Then your rough framing and source of heat for each area then any bulkhead can be built around any pipes. Electrical is the last step before anything gets closed in.

On a job like this i would hire a general, one that does hands on work, let him hire plumbers and electrions thats what they do. A good general will be able to answer any questions you have on a site visit like if your electrical panel has room in it for you basement needs. Just ask for any past client you could skeak with.

Best of luck Mark

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