Before I sat and began writing this post I needed to dissect the anatomy of a typical finished basement project. I wanted to organize the project into manageable “bite-sized” finishing stages for you to follow.
I needed to do this so you would not accidentally “put the cart before the horse” during your project. This always results in lost time and MONEY! My main goal here at the BFU is to help save you both.
So I sat with a blank piece of paper and I tore apart a typical basement project. When I was done tearing it apart and putting back together, I had boiled it down to “12 main stages” and the order they need to be completed.
So here they are: The 12 Main Stages Of A Basement Project
This is where it absolutely must begin! Ideas, Ideas, Ideas…that you will turn into your new awesome living space! But…before you can build anything, you need to Design your new finished basement. During this Design Stage you will be putting together your “working floor plan. You will use this floor plan as your “blueprint” to build from.
This “blueprint” will keep you from getting of-course during the project.
- Layout Stage
This is one of the most important and critical steps of the project. Basically…what you’ll be doing during the layout stage is transferring all of the wall lines on your floor plan to the concrete floor. You’ll be using your “chalk box” to do this. You are then going to build your new basement walls directly on-top of these lines you are making. So these lines have to be right-on!
- Framing Stage
This is when you actually begin the hands-on stages of the project. You will turn a pile of 2″ x 4″ stud lumber into all of your “framed” exterior and interior walls during this stage. You will really see the project take shape. Get ready for some saw action, nailing action and even some gun powder and smoke during the framing stage!
The tools you will be using for the framing project are some of the coolest!
- Electric Stage
Me do electric you say!? Yep your going to do it and your going to love it! After your walls are all framed and finished, it’s time to “wire” the project. Electric is not hard to do! So if your a little intimidated by it…DON”T BE! It’s actually a lot of fun and it’s a BIG MONEY SAVER
I’ll show you how to wire all of your outlets, switches and lights…you’ll be famous!
- Plumbing Stage
Got a bathroom, Wet Bar, or Laundry area in your Design? Well you will be installing all of your rough-in plumbing for these areas during the Plumbing Stage. The drain line system and the water supply line system get installed at this stage. Plumbing your basement is a job you can do yourself and an stage of the project where you can keep a pile of $100.00 dollar bills in your pocket!
- HVAC Stage
What’s this…! HVAC what the heck? Oh…I’m sorry, I keep forgetting you might be brand new to remodeling. The HVAC stands-for Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning, and your basement needs these elements to stay healthy! During this stage you will install your HVAC “Feed runs” and Return-air runs” which feed and return the heating and air-conditioning to your new finished areas. HVAC needs to be done and your the guy for the job. It’s cake!
- Insulation Stage
This is the final stage before Drywall is hung. You will be insulating all of your exterior walls during this stage. You may even be insulating a few interior walls to create a sound-barrier for certain finished areas. Properly Insulating is a critical element in maintaining comfort and energy efficiency in your new finished spaces.
- Drywall Stage
Here’s where the basement really takes “form”…it starts to look like real living space after the drywall is hung. All of the framing, wires, pipes insulation disappear and rooms appear! This is the most labor intensive stage of your basement without a doubt! It’s hard work man. But…this is a doable phase for you. I have step-by-step training videos to teach you how to hang and finish your drywall if you want to tackle this phase of the job.
You may want to sub-contract this stage of the project out to a Pro who does this 24/7 if your not up to the physical demands this stage puts on your body! You will save about $2,000 to $2,500.00 in labor if you do it yourself.
- Painting Stage
Next you will be painting your way towards the finish-line when you paint your new drywall! Your new walls, ceilings and soffits will get there new colors during this stage. I also paint my trim and doors before I install any of them during this stage. It’s so much easier to paint the doors and trim before they’re installed…much less “cutting-in” work once the trim and doors have been installed!
- Trim Stage
Once your all painted-up it’s time to begin my favorite stage of the project…the trim. Trimming is like the putting-on the “crown jewels” of the basement project. All trim, stairway banister railings, possibly even some crown molding and chair-rail, base trim and other trim are all installed during this stage. Your basement “jumps to life” during the trim stage and really starts to look “finished”!
Also…if your building a custom bar or kitchen area, I like to install all of my cabinetry during the trim stage. I consider this type of work “trim”. Plus…I already have all of the tools I need for cabinetry already setup for all the other trim I’m installing.
- Hardware Stage
- Flooring Stage
This is when your carpet and padding are installed by a flooring contractor…you won’t be doing the carpeting! Everything else at this point of the project is 100% completed. All construction debris, tools, excess building supplies, etc. are all cleaned-up and removed from the job-site.
The basement floor has had the shop-vac run over it really well removing any remaining project dust. Your now ready for the “carpet guys”…it’s time to “roll out the red carpet” or whatever color your carpet is! Carpeting is always the very last item installed because you do not want to ruin your new rugs with construction debris!
This is the “final touches” phase of the basement project. Items like closet shelving, build-in bookcase shelving, door knobs, door stops, smoke detectors, outlet and switch covers, recessed light trim rings, etc. all get installed moving the project towards final completion.
- Special flooring situations
Now there are exceptions to the flooring stage… if you are planning tile flooring or synthetic flooring (vinyl, pergo, etc) in any of your finished areas, you would install these immediately after the painting is finished.
You will want these types of flooring installed BEFORE the base trim and carpeting are installed. You do this because the base trim is installed on-top of these types of floors. And…carpeting is best installed when it “butts up -against” these other types of floors.
That’s it. Your finished basement project totally broken-down for you. That’s as simplified as I can make it! Now you know the major stages for the project your about to begin.
Don’t stray from this path and try and “re-invent” the wheel. I have 22 years of trial and error invested in this formula to protect you from the pitfalls that I encountered myself learning how to finish basements efficiently.
The main thing to remember here is to have a plan! A floor plan to follow…to build from, a clear cut plan of action before you ever plug in the radio or turn on a saw. Without a design and floor plan to follow your just like a ship out on the ocean without a rudder…floating aimlessly around with no clear-cut destination, eventually your find land, but you might not like the scenery!
Grasshopper…”An arrow can only be shot forward by pulling it backward. So when your basement project is dragging you back with difficulties it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming, and turn up the radio a little”.
“I have laid-down this path for you to follow with hopes of keeping your butt out of trouble!”.
You may want to watch my: Basement Finishing Mind Map Click here!
It’s time to start this project! I’ll be here with you from A to Z if you need to talk-it-out!
Good luck with your basement project.