Basement finishing as an owner builde money on your basement project and do it yourself.

Basement finishing as an owner builde money on your basement project and do it yourself.

Basement Finishing, Pre-Planning Checklist, Part I

Are you thinking about tackling a basement finishing project yourself as an owner-builder? On a previous post, we talked about different ways to add space to your home. In this post titled What Does it Cost to Add Living Space. we talked about how basement finishing was one of the least expensive avenues to add square footage. If you have decided to take on a basement finishing project as an owner-builder, there are several things you want to review prior to beginning to make sure you end up with a quality job. Check out our new video describing the pre-planning required for your finished basement, Part I.

Contents

Check carefully for moisture on floor and walls. We don’t want to cover up any problems! Starting a basement finishing project before eliminating moisture problems is a recipe for disaster!

Foundation Walls. Check for cracks. Any leaks? Displacement? Repair these now as they will be much more difficult to get to later. There are DIY kits available that are relatively easy to use. takes about three hours and $75 or so and you will have a solid repair. If you’re not the DIY type, the typical professional repair with a warranty will cost you somewhere in the $250-$300 range. If you have displacement (a crack that is moving) you should consult a professional engineer to review (preferably one that doesn’t do repairs as this is a conflict of interest). We want to repair any structural problems before our basement finishing project begins.

Locate Dampers on ductwork (levers that adjust air flow): Preferably, you will provide access to these in the future after basement finishing. If you don’t want to provide access, you can adjust them to a setting that will work best for year round use. I adjust my dampers when the seasons change (heating vs. cooling) for better efficiency. So I personally would leave access to the dampers in my basement finishing design.

Locate Shutoffs and Cleanouts. You will want to provide for future access to your main water line, main sewer line cleanout, and any other water shutoffs or cleanouts in your basement. If you have a clog in your sewer five years down the road, you don’t want to be cutting holes all over your basement while standing in raw sewage. So, including access panels for mechanicals should be an essential part of your basement finishing design.

Material Access : If your stairs going down into your basement turn, you may want to use a basement window to get materials down there. In my experience, stairs are much tougher to use for material access as you end up damaging your new drywall material and you damage your existing walls. If you have a 4 foot wide escape window, you can build a ramp out of 2×4’s going down throug the window and just slide the material down. much easier on the material and your back/legs. You may want to keep your drywall to 4×8 sheets and 2×4 plate material to a maximum of 10 feet lengths. Basement finishing requires a lot of material. be sure to have a plan for getting the material down to your project.

Electrical Panel: Check to make sure you have unused slots for new breakers. If not, you will have to go to the additional expense of a sub panel or maybe even bring a new service line to the house. Most of the basement finishing projects I have completed used no more slots than were already available in the existing electrical panel.

Basement Finishing, Pre-Planning Checklist, Part II

Yesterday we posted Part I of a series of videos to help make basement finishing an easy project for an owner-builder. Today, we posted a new video titled Pre-Planning for Your Finished Basement, Part II. In this video we review all of the things to consider before you start your basement project. We want this project to last a long time so there are some things we need to locate and review prior to starting the design of our basement finishing plan. Here is a quick checklist of some of the items we cover.

Seal basement floor to wall joint & any other cracks in the floor. This provides an additional moisture barrier and also helps seal the floor from radon gas.

Locate mechanical and structural obstructions so we can incorporate them into our plan

Ceiling: Decide on a finish based on the types of plumbing, HVAC and electrical access that will be needed in the furture. We will also want to consider head clearance when deciding on a ceiling for your basement finishing project. Popular options for basement ceiling finish include drywall, dropped, or a combination of both. We decided to go with an urban loft look to our design. So, we basically will paint the ceiling black and leave the mechanicals exposed. This gives us maximum head clearance and will provide easy access to plumbing, HVAC, and electrical in the future. This exposed ceiling goes with the soft contemporary design we have chosen for our new basement finishing project.

Creating Your Plan for Basement Finishing

Hopefully you were able to watch our last video in our basement finishing series titled Pre-Planning for Your Finished Basement. Now you are ready to move on to creating the plan for your new space. The plan is necessary to allow the subcontractors and suppliers to properly estimate material and labor quantities. So, this plan will be an integral part of our bid package for your basement finishing project. We will also use the plan to submit for our permit. You will probably want to check with your local building department to see what information they would like to see on the plan before creating it. For our basement finishing plan we have included the following information.

Wall dimensions (including length and height)

Location & Size of New Doors

Locations of mechanical clean-outs, shutoffs, dampers

Architectural elements, including columns, arches, nooks.

Electrical Plan (including lighting, cable outlets, switches and any special electrical outlets). We also include special notes for the type of wire required (conduit enclosed or insulated wire. i.e. Romex)

HVAC Plan showing locations and sizes of supply ducts and return air ducts and any additional equipment needed.

Plumbing Plan showing locations and sizes of sinks, showers and toilets. We aren’t adding any new plumbing in our project so we didn’t have a plumbing plan.

Basically, we want to show as much information as we can fit on your basement finishing plan. Later we will create the scopes of work and specifications for each activity, which will designate the types of materials to be used. However, you may want to include this info on the plan as well. Ideally, your plan will be to scale. This is easily achieved by getting graph paper from your local office supply store and choosing a scale that works for you (i.e. each block equals a foot). For more information on creating your finished basement plan check out our new video, The Basement Finishing Plan .

Keep Moisture Out: Basement Finishing

If we are going to put time, effort and money into basement finishing, we need to make sure we take steps to keep the moisture out. There is nothing worse than having to remove new carpet, drywall, and insulation because water made its way into your home. Here is a checklist I use whenever one of my customers is thinking of starting a basement finishing project. Don’t forget to speak to your homeowner’s insurance agent to add coverage for your newly finished project. Most policy’s require a rider to cover basement water damage or damage from a sewer backup. I have provided two different checklists, one for incorporating a project into a newly built home from the ground up and then one for a basement finishing project that is being added to an existing home.

If we are completing the basement finishing project as we build a new home from the ground up.

Include plastic/visqueen under the basement floor to help keep moisture out. The sheets of plastic should be taped together with no gaps or holes. This will also be a part of your radon mitigation system.

Install interior and exterior draintile connected with bleeders through the footer every 8′. This comes in handy if there is ever a problem with either the interior or exterior system. We are basically adding redundancy for your new basement finishing.

For a large basement, run a diagonal draintile under the floor connected to the sump crock. This helps when you have a high water table.

Apply waterproofing to the exterior foundation wall. This should be a pliable material that will span any cracks that occur in the foundation wall.

Install an insulation/drain board on the exterior foundation wall. This material actually serves two functions; It prevents groundwater from being trapped up against the wall, which will eventually make it’s way through. It also provides an R-Value to a concrete wall that alone, has almost no insulation value.

Properly slope the grade around the basement. The grade should drop 6″ for the first 10′ around the home.

Install a high quality sump pump along with a battery backup system and/or alarm. A battery backup system will cost $350-$500 installed. This is a small price to pay to protect your new basement finishing project.

Silicone the joints in the concrete floor including the perimeter at the wall. This is also an integral part of your radon mitigation system.

If you are incorporating a basement finishing project into your existing home.

Silicone all joints in the concrete floor including the perimeter.

Check the finished grade around the basement. There should be a minimum 6″ of fall for the first 10′ around the home.

Make sure all downspouts are connected and discharge rainwater away from the home

Check operation of sump pump and check valve. If the pump is older than four years, replace it.

Add battery backup sump pump and/or water alarm

It’s also a good idea to run a dehumidifier in your basement during the summer months to remove the moisture from the air. This will help keep your new space cozy and dry. Taking steps to Keep moisture out is an integral part of any basement finishing project.

Getting Bids for Your Basement Finishing Project, Part I

We have been talking about how to properly plan your basement finishing project as an owner-builder. In this section, we will discuss how you go about getting bids from subcontractors. You will send out bid packages to a minimum of three subcontractors per activity. So, you will send out a package to three different drywall companies, three different trim carpenters, three different painters. etc. We ask for three bids to make sure we are getting a fair price for your basement finishing project.

The bid package consists of three items: the plan (or architectural renderings), bid sheet (template for how we want the pricing broken down), and the scopes of work and specifications (define the work to be done and detail quality requirements). These three items can typically be emailed or you can make paper copies for the subs to pickup. Some of the subcontractors will insist on a scaled paper copy of the plan in order to scale off the dimensions to estimate quantities for your basement finishing.

I usually give the subcontractors one to two weeks to get back to me with the bid. This should give them plenty of time to work on them. Keep in mind, many of these guys work out on the job site during the day and the only time they have to estimate and bid is at night or on weekends. So, we want to be respectful of their family time.

We have also posted a new video on how to use the bid sheet to save time and money when bidding out your basement finishing project.

Getting Bids for Your Basement Finishing Project, Part II

We’ve been talking about how to tackle a basement finishing job as an owner-builder. In our last post we discussed the importance of the bid package and how the bid sheet gives your subcontractors a specific format for submitting a bid. This format allows you to easily review each cost item for the activity and make quick, good decisions based on the information. Here we will discuss the Scopes of Work and Specifications and how they help you get accurate bids. We have also posted a new video discussing the importance of the Scopes of Work and Specifications in your new finished basement project so check it out!

Post continues below the graphic.

Scopes of Work, Trim Carpentry

We’ve given you a full size copy of the scope of work and specifications for the trim carpentry activity in our basement finishing project. There are two main objectives for the scopes of work and specifications. First, we define the work that is to be done. In other words, we tell the subcontractor what we want them to do. This allows them to properly estimate and bid the project. In our trim carpentry example here we tell the trade what items they are required to provide like nails, glue, labor. etc. We also tell them what items they will be installing from casing to extension jambs. The more accurate we are in our description of what we expect, the more accurate the bid will be. You really don’t want to come back later and say to your subcontractor. «oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention. » If you do, you will get additional late costs and fees from the sub that will wreak havoc with your basement finishing budget.

The second major objective of the scopes of work and specifications is to outline the quality you expect. In our example, we tell the trim carpenter where we want the door shimmed and how high off of the floor to set the door. We also let them know we expect them to protect all other work and to clean up at the end of the activity. Basically, we highlight the most important quality initiatives. I have created these documents from years of building and remodeling homes. At the end of each project, I would re-evaluate the scopes to make sure they had everything we needed to avoid problems. The scopes of work and specifications will help your basement finishing ideas match the actual finished product.

Below is the second page of the scope of work and specifications for trim carpentry for our basement finishing project. Number seventeen is probably the most important item. We need to make sure all subcontractors tell us if they experience any unexpected items that will cost us extra money before the work is done. We cannot, and will not accept an invoice after the work is done that adds on additional items if we haven’t previously acknowledged and agreed to the extra cost in writing. This way, we can evaluate the extra charge before the work is done to check for validity and to see if we want to take another course of action.

The last important item is the signature and date of your subcontractor. By signing, the trade acknowledge they agree to the terms and will perform in this way. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to pull out a scope of work and specification to remind a subcontractor during a job what type of quality is required. There really is no argument if it’s in writing and they signed it. These steps will not only help you build a quality finished product, they will also keep you basement finishing project on budget.

The Schedule for Basement Finishing

If you’re planning on tackling a basement finishing job as an owner-builder, and you want to finish it quickly, it’s a good idea to have a written schedule. This schedule lists each activity in the order they are to be completed and shows the time allowed for each. In this post we will discuss why you need a schedule, the critical components and time frames, and how you fit in when providing your own labor. For more information on scheduling your basement finishing buildout, check out our new video here.

Why Have a Schedule? As mentioned before, the schedule tells your trades when they are to start and finish their work. It shows them your complete schedule so they understand the importance of hitting their scheduled date. The schedule also keeps you, the general contractor, organized when it comes to material ordering, inspections and quality checks. Without the schedule, you might miss something critical that can set you back days or worse yet, require tear out because you missed an inspection. Using a written schedule in your basement finishing buildout will help you stay organized and will allow you to start enjoying your new space sooner.

Critical Components. The first, and most important activity to any building schedule is pull permit. We don’t want to forget this item as it can cause major delays if forgotten. Check out our previous post on permits for more info on this. Inspections are another critical component to your schedule. You need to make sure the local building department approves of your work prior to covering it up. If you forget this step, you may be required to remove work that you have already completed. Or you may be require to pay additional penalties for not pulling a permit for your basement finishing project.

How Long? The first question I typically get from customers regarding their building projects is. «How long will it take?» Most basement finishing jobs take anywhere from four to six weeks to complete depending on size, finishes, and complexity. I have accelerated schedules before to finish off a basement in two weeks. However, this required a very tight schedule that used hours, not days. A shortened schedule will also require multiple activities to be going on at any given time. This is typically not the most efficient way to go. And don’t forget, efficiency equates to cost savings. To get the best pricing from your subcontrators, give them the time they need to get the work done efficiently during normal working hours.

But I want to do Some Work Myself. No problem, this is one of the benefits of being an owner-builder managing your own basement finishing project. you get to decide who does what. Just remember to figure into your schedule your day job and family life. I have always said, «the best schedule is a realistic schedule.» It does you no good to create a one week schedule if it takes three to do the work. Just be realistic and your trades will thank you for it. If you miss a target date, don’t forget to call all of the subcontractors that are scheduled afterwords to allow them to change their schedule. Don’t forget, your job is one of many jobs they have on their schedule. If you plan on doing some of the basement finishing work yourself, be prepared to add extra days to your schedule.

Basement Finishing, Pre-Planning Checklist, Part I

Are you thinking about tackling a basement finishing project yourself as an owner-builder? On a previous post, we talked about different ways to add space to your home. In this post titled What Does it Cost to Add Living Space. we talked about how basement finishing was one of the least expensive avenues to add square footage. If you have decided to take on a basement finishing project as an owner-builder, there are several things you want to review prior to beginning to make sure you end up with a quality job. Check out our new video describing the pre-planning required for your finished basement, Part I.

Check carefully for moisture on floor and walls. We don’t want to cover up any problems! Starting a basement finishing project before eliminating moisture problems is a recipe for disaster!

Foundation Walls. Check for cracks. Any leaks? Displacement? Repair these now as they will be much more difficult to get to later. There are DIY kits available that are relatively easy to use. takes about three hours and $75 or so and you will have a solid repair. If you’re not the DIY type, the typical professional repair with a warranty will cost you somewhere in the $250-$300 range. If you have displacement (a crack that is moving) you should consult a professional engineer to review (preferably one that doesn’t do repairs as this is a conflict of interest). We want to repair any structural problems before our basement finishing project begins.

Locate Dampers on ductwork (levers that adjust air flow): Preferably, you will provide access to these in the future after basement finishing. If you don’t want to provide access, you can adjust them to a setting that will work best for year round use. I adjust my dampers when the seasons change (heating vs. cooling) for better efficiency. So I personally would leave access to the dampers in my basement finishing design.

Locate Shutoffs and Cleanouts. You will want to provide for future access to your main water line, main sewer line cleanout, and any other water shutoffs or cleanouts in your basement. If you have a clog in your sewer five years down the road, you don’t want to be cutting holes all over your basement while standing in raw sewage. So, including access panels for mechanicals should be an essential part of your basement finishing design.

Material Access : If your stairs going down into your basement turn, you may want to use a basement window to get materials down there. In my experience, stairs are much tougher to use for material access as you end up damaging your new drywall material and you damage your existing walls. If you have a 4 foot wide escape window, you can build a ramp out of 2×4’s going down throug the window and just slide the material down. much easier on the material and your back/legs. You may want to keep your drywall to 4×8 sheets and 2×4 plate material to a maximum of 10 feet lengths. Basement finishing requires a lot of material. be sure to have a plan for getting the material down to your project.

Electrical Panel: Check to make sure you have unused slots for new breakers. If not, you will have to go to the additional expense of a sub panel or maybe even bring a new service line to the house. Most of the basement finishing projects I have completed used no more slots than were already available in the existing electrical panel.

Basement Finishing, Pre-Planning Checklist, Part II

Yesterday we posted Part I of a series of videos to help make basement finishing an easy project for an owner-builder. Today, we posted a new video titled Pre-Planning for Your Finished Basement, Part II. In this video we review all of the things to consider before you start your basement project. We want this project to last a long time so there are some things we need to locate and review prior to starting the design of our basement finishing plan. Here is a quick checklist of some of the items we cover.

Seal basement floor to wall joint & any other cracks in the floor. This provides an additional moisture barrier and also helps seal the floor from radon gas.

Locate mechanical and structural obstructions so we can incorporate them into our plan

Ceiling: Decide on a finish based on the types of plumbing, HVAC and electrical access that will be needed in the furture. We will also want to consider head clearance when deciding on a ceiling for your basement finishing project. Popular options for basement ceiling finish include drywall, dropped, or a combination of both. We decided to go with an urban loft look to our design. So, we basically will paint the ceiling black and leave the mechanicals exposed. This gives us maximum head clearance and will provide easy access to plumbing, HVAC, and electrical in the future. This exposed ceiling goes with the soft contemporary design we have chosen for our new basement finishing project.

Creating Your Plan for Basement Finishing

Hopefully you were able to watch our last video in our basement finishing series titled Pre-Planning for Your Finished Basement. Now you are ready to move on to creating the plan for your new space. The plan is necessary to allow the subcontractors and suppliers to properly estimate material and labor quantities. So, this plan will be an integral part of our bid package for your basement finishing project. We will also use the plan to submit for our permit. You will probably want to check with your local building department to see what information they would like to see on the plan before creating it. For our basement finishing plan we have included the following information.

Wall dimensions (including length and height)

Location & Size of New Doors

Locations of mechanical clean-outs, shutoffs, dampers

Architectural elements, including columns, arches, nooks.

Basement finishing as an owner builde money on your basement project and do it yourself.

Electrical Plan (including lighting, cable outlets, switches and any special electrical outlets). We also include special notes for the type of wire required (conduit enclosed or insulated wire. i.e. Romex)

HVAC Plan showing locations and sizes of supply ducts and return air ducts and any additional equipment needed.

Plumbing Plan showing locations and sizes of sinks, showers and toilets. We aren’t adding any new plumbing in our project so we didn’t have a plumbing plan.

Basically, we want to show as much information as we can fit on your basement finishing plan. Later we will create the scopes of work and specifications for each activity, which will designate the types of materials to be used. However, you may want to include this info on the plan as well. Ideally, your plan will be to scale. This is easily achieved by getting graph paper from your local office supply store and choosing a scale that works for you (i.e. each block equals a foot). For more information on creating your finished basement plan check out our new video, The Basement Finishing Plan .

Keep Moisture Out: Basement Finishing

If we are going to put time, effort and money into basement finishing, we need to make sure we take steps to keep the moisture out. There is nothing worse than having to remove new carpet, drywall, and insulation because water made its way into your home. Here is a checklist I use whenever one of my customers is thinking of starting a basement finishing project. Don’t forget to speak to your homeowner’s insurance agent to add coverage for your newly finished project. Most policy’s require a rider to cover basement water damage or damage from a sewer backup. I have provided two different checklists, one for incorporating a project into a newly built home from the ground up and then one for a basement finishing project that is being added to an existing home.

If we are completing the basement finishing project as we build a new home from the ground up.

Include plastic/visqueen under the basement floor to help keep moisture out. The sheets of plastic should be taped together with no gaps or holes. This will also be a part of your radon mitigation system.

Install interior and exterior draintile connected with bleeders through the footer every 8′. This comes in handy if there is ever a problem with either the interior or exterior system. We are basically adding redundancy for your new basement finishing.

For a large basement, run a diagonal draintile under the floor connected to the sump crock. This helps when you have a high water table.

Apply waterproofing to the exterior foundation wall. This should be a pliable material that will span any cracks that occur in the foundation wall.

Install an insulation/drain board on the exterior foundation wall. This material actually serves two functions; It prevents groundwater from being trapped up against the wall, which will eventually make it’s way through. It also provides an R-Value to a concrete wall that alone, has almost no insulation value.

Properly slope the grade around the basement. The grade should drop 6″ for the first 10′ around the home.

Install a high quality sump pump along with a battery backup system and/or alarm. A battery backup system will cost $350-$500 installed. This is a small price to pay to protect your new basement finishing project.

Silicone the joints in the concrete floor including the perimeter at the wall. This is also an integral part of your radon mitigation system.

If you are incorporating a basement finishing project into your existing home.

Silicone all joints in the concrete floor including the perimeter.

Check the finished grade around the basement. There should be a minimum 6″ of fall for the first 10′ around the home.

Make sure all downspouts are connected and discharge rainwater away from the home

Check operation of sump pump and check valve. If the pump is older than four years, replace it.

Add battery backup sump pump and/or water alarm

It’s also a good idea to run a dehumidifier in your basement during the summer months to remove the moisture from the air. This will help keep your new space cozy and dry. Taking steps to Keep moisture out is an integral part of any basement finishing project.

Getting Bids for Your Basement Finishing Project, Part I

We have been talking about how to properly plan your basement finishing project as an owner-builder. In this section, we will discuss how you go about getting bids from subcontractors. You will send out bid packages to a minimum of three subcontractors per activity. So, you will send out a package to three different drywall companies, three different trim carpenters, three different painters. etc. We ask for three bids to make sure we are getting a fair price for your basement finishing project.

The bid package consists of three items: the plan (or architectural renderings), bid sheet (template for how we want the pricing broken down), and the scopes of work and specifications (define the work to be done and detail quality requirements). These three items can typically be emailed or you can make paper copies for the subs to pickup. Some of the subcontractors will insist on a scaled paper copy of the plan in order to scale off the dimensions to estimate quantities for your basement finishing.

I usually give the subcontractors one to two weeks to get back to me with the bid. This should give them plenty of time to work on them. Keep in mind, many of these guys work out on the job site during the day and the only time they have to estimate and bid is at night or on weekends. So, we want to be respectful of their family time.

We have also posted a new video on how to use the bid sheet to save time and money when bidding out your basement finishing project.

Getting Bids for Your Basement Finishing Project, Part II

We’ve been talking about how to tackle a basement finishing job as an owner-builder. In our last post we discussed the importance of the bid package and how the bid sheet gives your subcontractors a specific format for submitting a bid. This format allows you to easily review each cost item for the activity and make quick, good decisions based on the information. Here we will discuss the Scopes of Work and Specifications and how they help you get accurate bids. We have also posted a new video discussing the importance of the Scopes of Work and Specifications in your new finished basement project so check it out!

Post continues below the graphic.

Scopes of Work, Trim Carpentry

We’ve given you a full size copy of the scope of work and specifications for the trim carpentry activity in our basement finishing project. There are two main objectives for the scopes of work and specifications. First, we define the work that is to be done. In other words, we tell the subcontractor what we want them to do. This allows them to properly estimate and bid the project. In our trim carpentry example here we tell the trade what items they are required to provide like nails, glue, labor. etc. We also tell them what items they will be installing from casing to extension jambs. The more accurate we are in our description of what we expect, the more accurate the bid will be. You really don’t want to come back later and say to your subcontractor. «oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention. » If you do, you will get additional late costs and fees from the sub that will wreak havoc with your basement finishing budget.

The second major objective of the scopes of work and specifications is to outline the quality you expect. In our example, we tell the trim carpenter where we want the door shimmed and how high off of the floor to set the door. We also let them know we expect them to protect all other work and to clean up at the end of the activity. Basically, we highlight the most important quality initiatives. I have created these documents from years of building and remodeling homes. At the end of each project, I would re-evaluate the scopes to make sure they had everything we needed to avoid problems. The scopes of work and specifications will help your basement finishing ideas match the actual finished product.

Below is the second page of the scope of work and specifications for trim carpentry for our basement finishing project. Number seventeen is probably the most important item. We need to make sure all subcontractors tell us if they experience any unexpected items that will cost us extra money before the work is done. We cannot, and will not accept an invoice after the work is done that adds on additional items if we haven’t previously acknowledged and agreed to the extra cost in writing. This way, we can evaluate the extra charge before the work is done to check for validity and to see if we want to take another course of action.

The last important item is the signature and date of your subcontractor. By signing, the trade acknowledge they agree to the terms and will perform in this way. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to pull out a scope of work and specification to remind a subcontractor during a job what type of quality is required. There really is no argument if it’s in writing and they signed it. These steps will not only help you build a quality finished product, they will also keep you basement finishing project on budget.

The Schedule for Basement Finishing

If you’re planning on tackling a basement finishing job as an owner-builder, and you want to finish it quickly, it’s a good idea to have a written schedule. This schedule lists each activity in the order they are to be completed and shows the time allowed for each. In this post we will discuss why you need a schedule, the critical components and time frames, and how you fit in when providing your own labor. For more information on scheduling your basement finishing buildout, check out our new video here.

Why Have a Schedule? As mentioned before, the schedule tells your trades when they are to start and finish their work. It shows them your complete schedule so they understand the importance of hitting their scheduled date. The schedule also keeps you, the general contractor, organized when it comes to material ordering, inspections and quality checks. Without the schedule, you might miss something critical that can set you back days or worse yet, require tear out because you missed an inspection. Using a written schedule in your basement finishing buildout will help you stay organized and will allow you to start enjoying your new space sooner.

Critical Components. The first, and most important activity to any building schedule is pull permit. We don’t want to forget this item as it can cause major delays if forgotten. Check out our previous post on permits for more info on this. Inspections are another critical component to your schedule. You need to make sure the local building department approves of your work prior to covering it up. If you forget this step, you may be required to remove work that you have already completed. Or you may be require to pay additional penalties for not pulling a permit for your basement finishing project.

How Long? The first question I typically get from customers regarding their building projects is. «How long will it take?» Most basement finishing jobs take anywhere from four to six weeks to complete depending on size, finishes, and complexity. I have accelerated schedules before to finish off a basement in two weeks. However, this required a very tight schedule that used hours, not days. A shortened schedule will also require multiple activities to be going on at any given time. This is typically not the most efficient way to go. And don’t forget, efficiency equates to cost savings. To get the best pricing from your subcontrators, give them the time they need to get the work done efficiently during normal working hours.

But I want to do Some Work Myself. No problem, this is one of the benefits of being an owner-builder managing your own basement finishing project. you get to decide who does what. Just remember to figure into your schedule your day job and family life. I have always said, «the best schedule is a realistic schedule.» It does you no good to create a one week schedule if it takes three to do the work. Just be realistic and your trades will thank you for it. If you miss a target date, don’t forget to call all of the subcontractors that are scheduled afterwords to allow them to change their schedule. Don’t forget, your job is one of many jobs they have on their schedule. If you plan on doing some of the basement finishing work yourself, be prepared to add extra days to your schedule.


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