Because remodeling a basement is a unique project, and you are limited by existing structure, there are many questions you may have about basement remodels. Surprisingly, many of these problems have a solution. The savvy contractor can answer them quickly.
In a basement remodel, you may have to make a few compromises when beginning the project due to structural design. Here, we provide answers to frequently asked questions about remodeling your basement.
Should I Get 3 Estimates?
That depends. If you have lived a long time in your neighborhood and know a reliable contractor, then go with him. A realtor is often a very good resource for finding a good contractor, and the realtor who sold you your home is always willing to help.
If you are new to the neighborhood, then it is always a good idea to get 3 estimates. Going with the cheapest option is not always the best answer. Ask to see some of the contractors work and ask for references. A reputable contractor will be more than glad to assist you.
Do I Need a Permit?
Yes. Any major rebuilding requires that you have the necessary permits. A good contractor will assist you in this process.
What Can I Expect to Pay for a Basement Remodel?
Research shows that the cost for a full remodel will run $30 to $40 per square foot. Always have a budget in place before calling a contractor. Research shows the average build-out runs between $18,000 and $35,000.00. Be certain that the funds are available before contacting the contractor.
I Have 3 Estimates, and They Vary Widely. Why?
Prices should vary somewhat between contractors. They want your business;often attempt to underbid one another. If you see a big gap between estimates, sit down with the contractor and ask some questions.
Perhaps the contractor did not fully understand your needs. Ask the contractor to explain the bid. If he is vague, then move on. Always get explanations about costs in writing, not just a verbal agreement from the contractor.
I Want to Add Extra Bedrooms in My Basement. Do I Need Windows?
Absolutely. Although fire codes vary from locale to locale, the rule is that the windows should be wide enough for a person to access the outside. They must also be a minimum height from the floor. Plan a window that is large enough for a fireman to enter carrying breathing apparatus and you will be in good shape.
There Is a Large Steel Beam in My Basement. Can I Remove It?
You certainly can, but you should give it a great deal of consideration. These beams are extremely heavy. Because they are in the basement, they can only be removed by man power and jacks. A hole will need to be carved in an exterior wall to remove it.
This beam maintains the level of your home and keeps it from sagging. To remove it is a difficult task. It must still be replaced with support that is efficient enough to maintain structural integrity. Only an engineer can determine that for you. Consider turning the beam into a soffit by boxing in with drywall or similar material.
My Basement Seems Damp. What Should I Do Before I Remodel?
Before you begin any basement remodel, you must deal with moisture. Check for proper drainage around the exterior of the home. A proper installation has drains installed at footing level, sloped between 1 and 2-inches per 10-feet to direct water away from the house.
After the trenches are dug, apply waterproof membranes to the foundation wall as you backfill the trench. Coat the exterior walls with Xypex, a crystalline sealant that is excellent for controlling moisture. Always keep a dehumidifier running in your basement at all times.
My Basement Floor Isn't Level. What Should I Do?
Basement floors are purposely built on a slope to provide drainage. To remedy this, you can do several things. Home supply stores such as Lowe's sell self-leveling mortar to fix this problem. It is mixed with water and spread with a squeegee that has adjustable nubs to bring the floor level. Otherwise, a level subfloor should be built.
A basement remodel is like nothing other. Learn the tricks and have a successful basement remodel.
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.