Finishing your basement gives you and your family additional comfortable living space.
You also have the ability to convert the space into whatever you need the most.
Most people recruit a professional to get the job done.
However, this will cost a lot of money.
If you have moderate to advanced handyman skills, you may wonder if you can do the job yourself.
You not only need to take into consideration the works that you need to do, but also any required permits.
Can I Finish My Basement Myself?
If you have the time and know-how, you can finish your own basement.
Of course, finishing a basement is an extensive job.
You need to dedicate yourself to the project.
You will also need to plan properly and gather the correct materials.
When planning to finish your basement, remember that you don’t have to do all of the work by yourself.
Take on only the tasks you feel comfortable doing.
You can hire professionals to help you with the rest.
The most difficult aspects of the project involve upgrading the utilities and installing the framing for the walls.
If you plan to hire professionals for any part of the process, you will benefit the most from getting help in these areas.
What Qualifies As A Finished Basement?
You cannot describe the basement as “finished” simply because you use the space, so what does it mean to have a finished basement?
A finished basement has similar qualities to the rest of your home, including:
- Heating and cooling
- Accessible entrance
- Finished floors
- Finished walls
- Finished ceiling
Some people try to take shortcuts and call a basement complete, but painted cement floors and open ceilings indicate that the space is unfinished or partially finished.
Why Finish Your Basement Yourself?
If you finish your basement yourself, you can save a significant amount of money.
You will not have to pay for labor, which can end up costing a lot.
In fact, for a home of average size, hiring a professional will cost you $18,500 on average.
You will only pay around $1,200 to finish your basement yourself.
You will also get the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from putting your hard work and sweat into the completed project.
This will make it even more special to you and your family when you all enjoy the area together.
How Long Does It Take To Finish A Basement?
Your finished basement will take roughly four to eight weeks, depending on the size of the basement and the work you want to do.
However, you don’t want to rush this job.
Give yourself plenty of time.
Costs Of Finishing Your Basement
It’s important to understand the costs associated with finishing your basement before you get started.
This will allow you to budget accordingly and make the best decisions for the end result of the project as well as your bank account.
How Much Does It Cost To Finish A Basement?
According to Forbes, the average cost to finish a basement is $18,400.
As we mentioned, you will pay less when doing it yourself, but you should still expect to pay a hefty price tag for the upgrade.
The biggest variables that will determine the final cost of your project include:
- Size of the basement
- Building materials
- Utility upgrades
What Different Parts Of The Job Will Cost
See the following costs of the different parts of the whole process:
- Permits: $1,160
- Framing: $7–16 per square foot
- Drywall: $2 per square foot
- Flooring: $9–31.50 per square foot
- Lighting: $151–$846
- Doors: $478–$1,525
Don’t forget to take into consideration the cost of the furniture, electronics, appliances, and additional items you plan to keep in your newly finished basement.
What Is My Return On Investment When Finishing A Basement?
If looking to perform a job that gives you the best return on your investment, you can expect a substantial but not complete return by finishing your basement.
Your return on investment (ROI) refers to the amount of money you receive when you sell your house compared to how much it costs you to make the renovations.
Most people find an ROI of about 79% after they finish a basement.
You can increase the amount of your return by doing the majority of the work yourself.
Also, you can’t put a price tag on the time you spend enjoying the space yourself.
Preparing To Finish Your Basement Yourself
Preparation is key when finishing your basement yourself.
Proper preparation will ensure that the job gets done correctly.
You need to examine the foundation, obtain a permit, prepare the space for construction, and gather your materials.
1. Examine The Foundation
You need to ensure that your current foundation can support the weight of the new installation.
You also need to know that it doesn’t need repairs.
You can tell that the foundation requires repairs if you notice the following items:
- Soft concrete
- Uneven floors
- Misshapen walls
- Doors and windows that don’t open and close properly
Consider how much of an additional strain you will put on the foundation by estimating the weight of your new construction and determining if your current foundation can support it.
If you notice that you have foundation problems already, you may want to perform an upgrade on the foundation while you make the repairs.
You cannot perform foundation work yourself.
Always hire a professional to prevent the risk of injury to yourself or expensive damage to your home.
2. Getting A Permit
You need to have proper paperwork before starting construction, which usually involves a building permit.
You may also need to have a professional inspection to ensure that everything adheres to local codes.
This permit will be necessary when new owners need information about the upgrade, or if you run into an issue with authorities and you need to prove you have permission to do the work.
Keep all permits and inspection documents organized and stored properly with extra copies… just in case.
Getting a permit usually involves a quick trip to your local government building or visiting the website.
After you receive the permit, you can get to work!
3. Preparing The Space For Construction
You will need to get the area ready before you can start installing new materials.
Prepare your basement for construction by following these simple steps.
Step One: Remove Major Items from Basement
You don’t want large pieces of furniture or other obstructions in your way.
You will need to remove the large items out of your basement and store them somewhere safe.
For the items you can’t remove, you should cover them properly with tarp or old blankets.
Step Two: Eliminate Moisture
Since basements tend to accumulate moisture, you should do everything you can to reduce the moisture levels in the basement.
Moisture can lead to mold and other long-term problems with the construction.
People in your home can develop health conditions if they experience extended exposure to certain molds.
Furthermore, moisture can get into your new construction and damage it, possibly even affecting the structural integrity of the house.
Mild humidity may only require a dehumidifier and an industrial fan.
If you notice water damage, you will need to locate and repair the source of the problem and then remove any damaged materials.
Step Three: Clean the Area
Unfinished basements tend to gather dust and other debris that can make working conditions less than desirable and even create hazardous breathing conditions.
Take the time to clean the space before you get started on the real work, taking special care to sweep and dust.
As part of the cleaning process, you should open the windows to contribute to healthy air quality.
Step Four: Increase Security Measures
If your project will leave your home vulnerable at any point, you need to protect your home by increasing security measures to prohibit intruders and unwanted pests from getting inside.
Some ways to increase security on the job site include:
- Keep the area well lit
- Security systems (with cameras)
4. Gather Materials
Now, you can gather the materials and tools you need to get the job done.
Materials you will need include:
- Ceiling materials
Tools you will need include:
- PPE (mask, gloves, sturdy boots, etc.)
- Circular saw
- Caulk gun
- Nail gun
- Utility knife
- Masonry drill and bits
How To Finish Your Basement
Finishing your basement involves four main upgrades:
If you need to install any new plumbing, electrical wiring, or gas lines, you need to do this first.
Keep in mind some upgrades may require additional permits or inspections, such as installing a new bathroom, kitchen, or bar.
In many cases, you will need to hire a professional for this part of the upgrade.
Not only will a professional understand local building codes, but they will also know how to accomplish the upgrade safely.
To reduce costs, use the current setup you have, as long as everything meets code requirements.
This may mean you won’t have your ideal floor plan, but minor adjustments can provide a majority of your dream basement.
Now, you will want to put up the walls that make up the different rooms of the floor plan.
Follow these steps to finish the walls in your basement.
Step One: Install Insulation
Insulation enhances efficiency and keeps the space comfortable, which is especially important in basements that can get drafty in the winter and warm in the summer.
You have options when it comes to your insulation.
In most cases, you will use polystyrene foam due to its cost-effectiveness and how easy it is to install.
To install the insulation, you will apply the insulation adhesive to the current wall foundation.
Then you will press the insulation onto the adhesive material to secure it.
Finally, you will fill any cracks with caulk.
Step Two: Build Wall Fame
Every wall requires a frame.
This will prove to be one of the most difficult parts of the entire process, so be patient with yourself.
You will start by cutting the top and bottom plates for each wall.
Mark each plate every 16 inches since that is where the studs will go.
Next, you will anchor the bottom plates into the foundation using concrete screws.
You will then install blocking in the floor joists every 16 inches to support the ceiling plates.
Then you will install the top plate.
Finally, you will need to install the studs.
The studs are boards that help support the weight of the wall in between the plates.
Continue to frame the entire basement, room by room.
Step Three: Mount Drywall
The most common material for walls in a finished basement is drywall.
You will hang your drywall horizontally or vertically.
You will then cut the drywall so that it ends on a stud.
You will then attach the drywall to the frame using drywall screws.
Finally, you will use drywall tape to secure any seams.
To make the drywall look as smooth as possible, you will use drywall mud as a finishing touch.
Step Four: Paint
Once you put up all of the drywall, you can paint.
First, sand the drywall mud.
Next, apply a primer.
Finally, add your final paint color.
Use toxic-free paint, and give yourself plenty of ventilation by opening the windows.
To install tile ceilings, you will install L-channel frames and then T-channel cross frames.
Install the tile using the frames you created.
To install a drywall ceiling, start in the corner and work your way outward from there.
You will apply adhesion in the same location as the joists.
Attach the drywall to the adhesive material.
You will then use drywall mud to smooth the area.
Finally, you will paint the ceiling.
After the paint dries, you can install new lighting fixtures or ceiling fans you want to put in the area.
Start working on your flooring by creating a flat foundation using a self-leveling compound.
Once the compound dries, you will need to create the subflooring.
Install insulation first.
Next, install plywood on top of the insulation with your masonry tools.
Finally, you will go on to install your flooring.
Basements are susceptible to flooding and excessive moisture levels, so you don’t want flooring that can become easily damaged by water.
For these reasons, your basement usually isn’t the ideal location for a hardwood floor or carpet.
Look into these great basement flooring options:
- Engineered wood
The flooring you choose can make a difference in how much noise you hear while in the basement, the efficiency levels, and the appearance of the basement.
Basements experience more water damage than other areas of your home.
This makes it especially important to protect the basement from water damage.
Some waterproofing techniques that you can use to keep your basement protected include:
- Using high-end building materials
- Performing repairs on cracks
- Providing proper ventilation
- Applying a coat of waterproofing paint
- Sealing all plumbing properly
Part of finishing a basement includes making the space properly temperature controlled.
Start by verifying that your current HVAC system can support the additional demand.
If it can, you will then need to promote proper airflow so that the HVAC system can reach the different rooms in the basement.
You may need to have a professional HVAC technician provide the proper airflow if not presently available.
As a quick-fix solution, you can use a window unit.
7. Finishing Touches
Finally, you need to add the finishing touches to the basement.
This means moving in the furniture and electronics that will turn your finished basement into an actual living space for people to enjoy.
Ultimately, you can complete most of the work of a finished basement yourself if you have the time and skill.
You may even save a significant amount of money by doing it yourself.
However, you should know when to hire a professional for certain aspects of the job.
Start by planning your remodel and what you want at the end.
You can then start planning out the details to turn your plans into a reality.