How to Refinish Your Basement on a Budget

When we decided to finish off our basement, at first we hesitated when we reviewed the reports from the three estimates we received from all the contractors who came to our house for bids. All we wanted was to add a ceiling, drywall three walls, add electricity, and flooring. Then, someone suggested we subcontract out the individual jobs (such as for drywall, electrical, and ceiling.) That’s when we found we were more than able to meet the cost of refinishing our basement, as the cost was much more reasonable. If you think you can’t afford to refinish your basement because you’re on a tight budget, here are a few tips to make the project more cost friendly.

Save Money Finishing Your Basement—Subcontract Out Each Individual Job

Rather than hire a general contractor, why not take on the job of contracting out workers? Bu subcontracting out each job, you’ll cut the cost down considerably, not having to pay a middle man. First, ask friends and neighbors whom they’d recommend or call a realtor or home construction company for recommendations. Depending on what your unfinished basement needs, you’ll need a different specialist for each job. .

Subcontract a Ceiling Installer—Suspended Ceilings

When looking for someone who does ceiling, it’s better to install a suspended ceiling as opposed to a regular ceiling (in one large piece). With a suspended ceiling you can easily removed a square to make adjustments, as well as install lighting, smoke detectors, etc. (See photo.) What’s more, suspended ceilings can cover stains and cracks. Hung from the ceiling, using a metal grid system, suspended ceilings are more practical than traditional ones you probably have on the other floors in your house.

Another advantage of suspended ceilings is that ductwork, pipes, and electrical wiring can be easily installed and worked on, without disrupting the rest of the ceiling. As an added bonus, you may be like us and discover cable for an additional TV set you’ll probably want to install. When your ceiling installer is there, ask for references for other specialists that will be working on your basement. Fortunately, our ceiling installer also brought in a co-worker who specialized in drywall, so we already had a dry wall man.

Tips for Saving Money on Drywalling

If your basement is like ours, as well as many others, it probably has concrete bricks that stick out from the existing drywall. Rather than install timbers to make the drywall uniform, you can save money by just drywalling the concrete bricks. Not only will you cut down the cost considerably, but you’ll also have instant shelves for small trinkets. To make your drywall pop, paint the new drywall in a different color, other than the existing drywall, for contrast. We chose a light green color (which doesn’t stand out that much against the existing beige, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have been bolder, selecting a bright red or another color that makes the wall pop. In fact, we plan to paint the steps leading down to the basement in tomato red, adding contrast to the green and beige walls.

Saving Money on Electrical Work

Because we didn’t have additional timbers added, drywalling the entire walls, it didn’t matter if the five new additional electrical outlets were installed before the drywall. Although some people may cringe at the idea of looking at electrical poles, we had a trick to make them almost unnoticeable. First, we painted them the color of the walls so they’d blend into the room. Then, I bought three 6-foot artificial ivies and wrapped them around each electrical pole, camouflaging them. Not only did it cover up the poles, but added greenery into the room, making it look more homey.

Saving Money on Basement Flooring—Install it Yourself

When you install your own flooring, of course you save a considerable amount of money. Even if you do have it professionally installed, you can still save if you choose to install the cording (or molding that holds down the baseboards.) However, make sure you don’t procrastinate, because if you wait too long your new tile could buckle up on the ends, and this would void the warranty on your new flooring. Just make sure to buy the right size so you won’t have a gap between the flooring and the walls. In other words, measure before selecting your cording.

Finally, choose winter for your refinishing your basement as it saves money. During warmer months, construction workers are much busier and don’t need the work as much as they do during the winter when work is more scarce. Therefore, you may be able to get work done for a cheaper rate.

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