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Ways to Save Money and Remodel Your Unfinished Basement

Time to Make that Unfinished Space into a Functional Living Area

That unfinished portion of your home you call the basement was a necessary evil that you may have had to leave unfinished when you first bought the home. We have all been on a budget or stuck our necks out on that first big ticket item but now its several years later and the family has grown or a relative might need assistance or you just cant stand the boxes, dust bunnies and god knows what else has been lost in that abyss you call the pit. Now its time for the master plan you envisioned when you bought your home, but where to start?

Refinish Your Entire Basement All at Once to Save Money

The first thing to do is realistically understand the space you have in your basement. The second is to decide if you plan on finishing the entire basement at one time or will you do it in stages? One thing to keep in mind is that stages will inevitably cost you more than you doing it all at once. There are many reasons for this, like multiple permits needing to be pulled, or inevitable material increase of the price on products. Not to mention you are bringing all the trades back for minimum order plus additional dumpsters will be required at a later date, etc.

You will always get the best price on the basement if you can complete the project in an 8 to 12 week time frame as a cohesive plan that allows the trades to come and complete there work in a well choreographed production at this point you are actually getting more square footage completed for less that you can on small projects.


Estimate the Cost to Remodel your Basement

Now how much should I pay for my basement to be finished? A good rule of thumb for your basement in Northern VA is roughly $50 a square foot. This is using upper grade materials and can very from basement to basement depending on the complexity of work to be performed. The other issue is, can the basement support what the homeowner wants? Say the homeowner wants the bathroom 20 ft on the complete opposite side of the basement from where the rough-in is located for the bathroom plumbing. Well that will require busting up 20 ft of basement concrete and then will we even have enough slope for the drains or will we have to pump sewage and water out. Pumps are never a good idea if they can be avoided, thatís why god made gravity. Itís worked under every condition. The above scenario would not fall under the $50 a square ft price.

Budget Enough for Your Basement Remodel

Another easy way to know if you are budgeting enough for your basement project is to take the value of your house, subtract land and what did the two levels cost you that are finished areas in your home. This is a good way to judge individualís taste and budgets, obviously if the two levels cost me $400,000 after we have subtracted the land then it would be unreasonable for me to figure the basement which is the same size would cost $30,000. Especially since I want a wine cellar, wet bar, and media room. Sorry folks it just doesnít work that way and you probably are not being realistic with your expectations.

Be Careful for Low-bid Contractors

There is no fixed rule on prices but you do need to have some idea of prices here in Northern VA before you can realistically choose a contractor. If you find a contractor to be so much lower than the rest than you should add $20,000 to $30,000 for your legal council because you will probably need it. dynamic renovations has seen a rash of homeowners who have either been ripped off or the work they paid for needs another contractor to repair it. This client paid dynamic renovations to fix the numerous damages to the best of our abilities and the cost of the sub par contractor as well as the repairs have far exceeded using a reputable contractors fair bid. When accepting the lowest bid you should plan on a few things occurring.

  1. During the project they say you didnít pay for this or it will cost additional money.
  2. You will give the deposit and never see them again.
  3. The contractor seems to disappear for a few days or they return to tell you they need more money to get some sort of special order parts.
  4. Their rolling office AKA their truck, broke down.
  5. You didnít pull the permits and he told you to get them ďoh yeah thatís why you were getting a special dealĒ.
  6. We underbid your project and its going to cost more.

Everything will become an additional charge until you are at a price that doesnít look so great anymore.

All the above responses we have heard from clients of how the lowest bid didnít really turn out to be a very good deal at all. You get what you pay for and you know it yourself. Name one time when you bought the cheapest car repair or product and it really worked out in your best interest.

Hire a Knowledgeable Contractor with a Track Record

Now by no means are we saying buy from the most expensive contractor that would be the complete opposite end of the spectrum. You should buy from the contractor who has work going on, that you can go and see a job that was just completed and the client has nothing but praise for the contractor and his crews. You should be leery of referrals that are a year old or even older than that. This is not a good sign of current work but the bottom line is you will know the contractor by how he points out things no one else does or makes you feel comfortable with his answers to your questions. Your gut feeling will usually lead you in the right direction.


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