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gremmy 08-10-2006 01:02 PM

If we disregard all the whacky stuff we do around here for a moment (double drywall, GG, etc.) , what is the range of generally accepted "cost per sq. ft." that contractors charge for normal bare-bones basement construction? Does anyone know?

tlogan6797 08-10-2006 01:25 PM

There was an earlier thread about this (maybe 6 months ago or so) and it seemed to me at that time that the consensus "Ballpark Estimate" to get ANYTHING (basement, deck, siding, windows) done by a contractor was 30K. If you bite, they drop everything and run to your house, if not, they just keep working on whatever project they are working on.

It will be interesting to see what it is now with the general housing slowdown.

Good luck,
Tom

gremmy 08-10-2006 01:36 PM

Wow. That sounds high. I just had a 300 sq. ft. deck made with an expensive exotic hardwood (IPE) and a vinyl railing, with the deck 10 feet off the ground and a staircase, for 11K. All very high quality construction -- it's as solid as a rock.

I've got a bid to finish a 11.5 x 19 foot area of my basement (including riser, false wall, equipment cabinet, wiring, electrical, the whole bit except for carpet) for less than 8k.

I cannot imagine paying 30k for either of these items (the deck or the room).

chiguy 08-10-2006 01:53 PM

Did you notice his location? Northern Virginia? Welcome to our world. I live in suburban MD and he is pretty much right that contractors here won't give you the time of day unless its a big job. Maybe the housing slowdown will make them a little hungrier and easier to deal with. I spent close to a year trying to find someone to come do some simple stuff for me and I finally got time to do it myself and did.

Your figure of $8k for 11.5x19 comes out to $36.70 a square foot. I seem to remember hearing a figure of around $40 a square foot to finish existing space is the general ballpark so that is probably not bad. This, of course, also shows why so many here do so much of the work themselves

dc_pilgrim 08-10-2006 02:54 PM

I have heard the $40/sq quote before. I have a couple of quotes I culled from the web and put in my files, that I'll add here:

Quote:


Finishing a basement? $30 to $75. Tru Davis, a Massachusetts contractor specializing in basements, is blunt: "Where else can you spend 12% to 15% of the cost of your house and get one-third more space as a result?"
Source: http://money.cnn.com/best/magazine_a...02/08/HOM.html

Quote:


Basement Remodel Project Description: Finish the lower level of a house to create a 20-by-30-foot entertaining area with wet bar, a 5-by-8-foot full bath, and a 12-by-12-foot auxiliary room. Walls and ceilings are painted drywall throughout; exterior walls are insulated; painted trim throughout. Include five six-panel, primed hardboard doors. Main room shall include 15 recessed ceiling light fixtures and three surface-mounted light fixtures and snap-together laminate flooring system. Bathroom includes standard white toilet, vanity with cultured-marble top, resilient vinyl flooring, two-piece fiberglass shower unit, a light/fan combination, vanity light fixture, and recessed medicine cabinet. Bar area includes 10 linear feet of raised-panel oak cabinets with laminate countertops, stainless steel bar sink, single-lever bar faucet, undercounter refrigerator, and vinyl floor tile. The national average cost of this project is $43,865. Source "Remodeling on-line"


Thunder7 08-10-2006 04:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chiguy View Post

Did you notice his location? Northern Virginia? Welcome to our world.


Man, I DO NOT miss that area. I lived in the Metro DC area for 30 years (1969-1999)....owned a house.....shewy.......it is CRAZY there. The costs are in the top 10 for the nation, for sure. Great place to grow up, terrible for "younger" folks these days. I was lucky to be in the last "generation" to benefit from the market (i.e. bought house for $200k, sold for $700k in 4 years). And, I finished the basement myself with the help of my Pop for about $3k (thank God, the brother-in-law was an electrician, and the father-in-law a plumber).

sdspga 08-10-2006 07:43 PM

Wow, now I am thinking I got one hell of a deal. Chicago, IL I finished 1000 square ft of basement for $17K. That included an Oak bar and some extras in the HT

Scott

bwhitmore 08-11-2006 10:32 AM

i live just east of chicago and my builder gave me a price of about $30 per sq. foot to finish our basement...

i'm doing it myself and plan to do it much cheaper with more upgrades and at my own pace...

the problem with alot of contractors is they aren't always patient in dealing with a homeowner that has specific criteria to meet in his theater or with HT designers and installers

just my $.02

gremmy 08-11-2006 10:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwhitmore View Post

i live just east of chicago and my builder gave me a price of about $30 per sq. foot to finish our basement...

i'm doing it myself and plan to do it much cheaper with more upgrades and at my own pace...

the problem with alot of contractors is they aren't always patient in dealing with a homeowner that has specific criteria to meet in his theater or with HT designers and installers

just my $.02

Based on my conversation with a lot of contractors, I'd have to say you're right. But the guy I'm thinking about hiring gives me a very good vibe, like he'll be really easy to explain things to and will attempt to be cooperative. Whether or not he'll drop that act and start acting differently once I've signed the contract is something I won't know until we get started, I guess. But he actually told me that he showed my pictures (printed from other theaters on this forum) to his guys, and he said they actually seemed excited to build something a bit different than the typical finished basement.

Andy238 08-11-2006 04:42 PM

Chiming in here fom the North East. My neighbor is having part of his basement finished. Just a basic job;walls, floor and drop ceiling (no bar that I know of). It runs around $32 sq. ft.

I was glad to find out since permits here are based on construction cost. So now I know where to start when I apply for mine for the ht.

Andy

John Kotches 08-11-2006 07:30 PM

Not counting the HT area, mine was about $25/sq ft for an office, a bathroom and a bedroom.

1200 sq/ft ~ $30K.

Regards,

v1rtu0s1ty 08-11-2006 11:43 PM

I haven't built my basement yet since I haven't moved to the new house yet. If you have the time and can wait for a long time like other folks here, then I recommend that you do it yourself. This way, you can think a lot, correct things out, etc. I'm doing it myself too.

But if you want it A.S.A.P. since you have a huge celebration coming in 3 months, then hire a professional contractor. Remember, you get what you pay for. My friend just finished his 1000 sq.ft. basement and he hired someone to do it. He spent like 12k-13k and I think my friend got ripped off. I don't want to tell him my feedback because I'm sure he will get hurt. So, contact different contractors and ask them to bring you to the single family homes that they have finished the basement previously. My 2cents too.

MikaelO 08-12-2006 07:50 AM

My Basement cost me about 22K including HT equipment (Low end per this groups standard). 19K construction and 3k in equip. Seating is garage sale stuff and hand me downs()Leather reclining love seat and couches), so add seating cost to that. Don't know exact SQ but that includes Theater (12x32), Full bath, Bedroom(12x14) w/ walk-in-closet, playroom (23x16, Large enough for a full size pool table), storage room/utility room.

They also did things like turned the stairs and put in french doors from the outside to the playroom and moved the old door to the utility area so that I can enter directly from out side rather than going through the house. They also built a custom wall unit in the playroom.It include a furnace/AC form the basement with the thermostat in the HT. They built and carpeted the risers (2 levels for 3 rows of seating).
HT , Bedroom and Playroom all have octagonal trays with ropelight in mouldings on the trays and recessed cans in the soffits. The HT also have recessed lights over the seating area and "cleaning light" in the front area. They did all the wiring as I specified and all I did was pulling the speaker wires and painting the screen wall which they had primed.
I also had to supply the fans/light fixures for the bed room and playroom as per the contractor "A fan can cost anywhere from $18 to $1800 depending on selection" and the tile for the bathroom floor and entry way (Found just what I needed in HD on close out for $.58 per 12x12)

The only issue I had was slow finishing. partly because the painter went to his homeland on vacation and was scheduled to paint when he came back, but neve came back. The new painter got his truck stolen the morning he was supposed to show and his sprayer etc. was all in the truck. When it was finally being done he was behind painting on several jobs and the general contractor gave him helpers to paint...bad idea, as they did a crummy job. All the things the painter painted was good, the helpers not so much. The painter ended up having to redo some of the helpers stuff.

EDIT:A rough calculation of all areas finished gave me a finishing price of $17.21/sqf with all included from above . I belive it was based on $15/sqf with cost added for the french doors and the AC etc. (Original quote was for AC pulled from main floor).

Mikael

Andy238 08-14-2006 10:57 AM

Wow! Mikael, that was a helluva good deal. I always thought labor was cheaper down south (used to live in FL)

The neighbor I mentioned earlier only had maybe a 30x18 area divided into two rooms with a half wall for $16K. If they wanted a bath included (which was already roughed in by home builder, btw) it was going to be roughly $28K.

Love diy...

Say, do you have any pics of the turn in the stairs you added? I'm toying with that same idea.

Andy

tony_B_wi 08-14-2006 11:18 AM

I got quotes from several contractors to put 2 rooms in about a 1000 sq ft basement, one being a HT and the second being a general use room. All 3 quotes came in similiar at about $30 per sq ft.

Although I've got minimal home repair experience, I'm planning on doing the work myself. None of the contractors had any knowledge or interest in doing a quality sound proof/insulation job.

I'll probably spend just as much money but the quality will be better from a technical point of view, with more fun stuff thrown in.

James McClellan 08-14-2006 07:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikaelO View Post

My Basement cost me about 22K including HT equipment (Low end per this groups standard). 19K construction and 3k in equip. Seating is garage sale stuff and hand me downs()Leather reclining love seat and couches), so add seating cost to that. Don't know exact SQ but that includes Theater (12x32), Full bath, Bedroom(12x14) w/ walk-in-closet, playroom (23x16, Large enough for a full size pool table), storage room/utility room.


MikaelO, who did you hire to do your basement? I'm in Suwanee and am currently in the market for a contractor to build my home theater. PM me if you wish.

jerrodshook 08-14-2006 09:57 PM

I got quotes from $70-92,000 to finish my ~1,800 sq ft basement. This was nothing special.... just basic finishing. As it stands right now, I have $44,000 and change invested right now. This includes my HT speakers, screen, projector, chairs, new heat pump, carpet ($6,600 on it's own), cables, game area speakers, HT fabric, DVD player, projector, anamorphic lens, etc. Without all this, I'm around $27-30,000. I hired out the HVAC and drywall. Everything else was done by me and I've put in quite a bit more than the locals quoted me.... for half the price.

wolverines 08-15-2006 06:18 AM

If you don't like the costs, I'd strongly suggest finding a contractor that primarily builds homes in your area. Then see if his guys will do work on the side for cash. The contractor shouldn't care and you will save 15-30% on the labor as you become the GC. We added on to our house a year ago and are now looking at the basement. I'd like to add a quasi theatre down there (more like a projections screen with surround sound) and will just pay the carpenters that worked on my house on an hourly basis. I'll do what I can (like pulling all the low voltage wiring) and the overall cost should come out much less.

tmnjus 08-15-2006 06:27 AM

Definitely DIY if you have the time and ability. My GC quoted me $40/sf to finish 2500 sf in the basement when we built the house 2 years ago. I opted to do it myself. I am now finishing up the painting and will be starting the trim this weekend.

I have a theater, bedroom, bath, family room, 2 rec rooms and a large wet bar. I was also able to a lot more then the GC would have done for that price, including 3 cove ceilings, and a lot of built-ins. When done, the basement will actually be finished off better then the mail level.

I did everything myself except the plumbing and electrical. When completed, I will come in right at $18/sf. (This includes putting in a sub-floor in the entire finished area). This does not include any of the electronics for the theater.

Note that if you hire it out, the cost per sf will typically be higher for a smaller job then a larger job.

Tom

tony_B_wi 08-15-2006 06:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmnjus View Post

(This includes putting in a sub-floor in the entire finished area).


Tom

Tom,
Can I ask you a question about the sub-floor you mentioned? I'm in the process of planning and contemplating putting down something over the cement prior to the carpet and pad. I've spoken to several GC's and they generally don't do anything other than pad and carpet right to the cement. Did you do subfloor and carpet? If carpet, what was your motivation and can you give me a quick overview of what you did.

Because ceiling height is a concern I was considering epoxy coating the cement (we don't currently have any moisture issues but I thought it was a good prohibitive step)and then laying .5" OSB/plywood over and securing to the cement with adhesive, followed by pad and carpet.

Thanks.
Tony

wolverines 08-15-2006 07:27 AM

Tony - A friend of mine just put HW floors in his basement and they put down 2 layers of subfloor overlapping under it. I've also seen products like dri-cor (?) at Home Depot that is designed to form a sub floor on top of the concrete while keeping moisture from the concrete away from the wood. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do in my basement when I get around to finishing it this fall. Let us know what you decide to do.

GreySkies 08-15-2006 08:24 AM

2 Attachment(s)
My neighbors have been quoted around $30/sq. ft. for very bare bones basement finishing here. Some of my neighbors have gotten together where they go from house to house finishing each others basements.

Tony-- I did Dricore in my basement. Very easy, cuts with regular tools. The whole basement took me two nights. Moisture issues in a basement don't always come from the ground-- in the summer (I'm assuming you're in WI), warm humid air can condense on cold concrete. You might never feel it wet normally, but if you put carpeting/pad directly on the concrete, it won't dry as easily and can provide a place for mold to grow. Products like Dricore or Delta-FL provide an airgap between the concrete and floor, allowing the concrete to dry if it becomes moist. It also is a moisture retarder, helping to keep warm, moist room air from reaching cool concrete.

It also makes for a warm floor in the wintertime.

tony_B_wi 08-15-2006 09:16 AM

Thanks to both.

I had seen dri-core at HD but the cost is going to add roughly $1000 to the rooms. I suppose that is insignificant compared to the cost of water or mold damages (not that I expect any).

Did you put OSB over the dri-cor or put the pad/carpet directly to it? One concern I had was the plastic dimples on the dri-cor deforming under load (walking, furniture legs, etc). Have you noticed any of that? I imagine a layer of OSB would alleviate that issue if it is present.

You mentioned condesation on the exterior walls (by-the-way, yes, I am in Wisconsin). Did you put up any vapor barrier? None of the GC's I spoke with thought it necessary, but I've been giving it some thought.

tmnjus 08-15-2006 09:39 AM

Tony, I used Platon topped with 3/4" T&G OSB. The Platon I used came in 7' wide roles x 65.5' long. This was a bit difficult to work with, but they now make smaller size rolls. The cost, including the OSB was about $1.25 per sf. I went this route for the same reasons GreySkies noted, plus it a lot softer to stand on vs concrete. I will be putting down carpet on most of it, but around the bar, I will be installing laminate tile. The laminate pad can go right on top of the Platon.

When I installed the OSB, I glued the T&G edges with construction adhesive. I installed biscuits in the ends where pieces butted together. In hindsight, I would not do that again. I have a couple that squeak because the glue didn't hold. Letting the but ends "float" an 1/8 apart would prevent that, and would not be an issue with the carpet. I put a couple tapcons through the OSB in the locations that squeaked.

I also put roofing felt down on the concrete prior to laying down the Platon. That was just to eliminate any noise that the Platon would make against the concrete when walking on it.

I ended up loosing about 1 1/4" of height by doing this, but I have 9' ceilings, so that was not an issue.

You can check out Platon at http://www.systemplaton.com/index.html

As for your thoughts of epoxy then OSB directly on top, I would be hesitant to do that. Even if you don't have moisture problems now, concrete does breath and give off moisture. It may not be noticeable when not covered. I would be concerned about the epoxy breaking down over time and not providing a solid barrier. Also, since the concrete will be cooler, you will get some condensation between the concrete/epoxy and the OSB. Without space for it to breath, it would develop mold over time. (As GreySkies also pointed out)

Tom

GreySkies 08-15-2006 10:07 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by tony_B_wi View Post

I had seen dri-core at HD but the cost is going to add roughly $1000 to the rooms. I suppose that is insignificant compared to the cost of water or mold damages (not that I expect any).

And that's how I justified spending the extra money. I am paranoid about mold; even if it's not the toxic stuff, it smells.

Here's two horror stories--

A college buddy up in Milwaukee has had an issue in the summer with his basement floor getting wet. The house is a post-war bungalow, with a basement rec room that was done in the 60s. He called me a couple of weeks ago saying that the floor tiles felt soggy and squished when he stepped on them. Well, to make the story short, he now has an asbestos abatement problem with his loose floor tiles.

Story two-- our neighborhood is new. The neighborhood was built with separate drainage systems for sewer and storm. Houses were also built with backflow prevention so that storm runoof/sewer can't back up into basements. Our next door neighbors were having a relative (brother-in-law GC) finish their basement. He had unplugged the French drain sump pump (one of two outlets in our basements) and neglected to re-plug it. After a pretty good summer storm, they had six inches of standing water in their freshly drywalled basement.

Of course, Dricore (or similar) isn't going to solve those problems-- I just thought I'd share some basement-water horror stories.

With Dricore, you can put carpeting/pad right over the top of it-- no additional underlayment needed. The manufacturer claims that the plastic is strong enough that you could even put a piano on the floor-- and they recommend that interior walls be built over the top of the floor. I haven't seen any deflection.

Before I put Dricore down, I painted the floor with Drylock (if you do this, make sure you get the stuff that can be used on floors).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony_B_wi View Post

Did you put up any vapor barrier? None of the GC's I spoke with thought it necessary...

One of my wife's sisters and her husband live outside of Mukwanago. Their GC told them the same thing about eight years ago. Their basement reeks of mold. With a vapor barrier, don't put it against the concrete; you want the barrier on the side of the insulation facing the room (i.e., inside).

For my exterior walls, I framed standard 2x4 walls ap. 1-2 inches away from the concrete walls, insulating them with vapor barrier-backed insulation, with the vapor barrier facing the inside of the room. Pics are available on my Media Room website.

I also used a mold-resistant drywall for my walls. It has a specially-treated core and uses fiberglass instead of a paper backing. It's also about twice as heavy as regular drywall and it's more difficult to get a good drywall screw dimple in it without popping the hole. It was also a couple of bucks a sheet more expensive than regular drywall. (I also gladly paid extra to have the Menards delivery guys take it down to the basement for me.)

I've heard that the best thing to do in insulating an already-built raw basement is to start by gluing an inch of extruded (not expanded) polystyrene directly to concrete walls and then building insulated 2x4 walls inside the polystyrene. And that the absolute best way to insulate a basement is by insulate it from the outside with extruded polystyrene before the basement is back-filled.

caesar1 08-15-2006 10:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by gremmy View Post

If we disregard all the whacky stuff we do around here for a moment (double drywall, GG, etc.) , what is the range of generally accepted "cost per sq. ft." that contractors charge for normal bare-bones basement construction? Does anyone know?


My new home builder is charging roughly $29.00 /square foot for the finished basement. Here is the plan (the finished portion is roughly 950 square feet):




He "claims" that in order to induce me to purchase this custom option, they removed much of the "profit", since they normally charge $38.00/ sq foot. [This is a new home builder-- not just a contractor for the basement, so they always put major profit in options.]

The calculation of $29/ square foot includes the charge for "waterproofing". Which is normally a separate charge of $4,000.00.

If you remove the waterproofing charge, the calculation of cost per square foot is $25.57.

This finished basement includes the following:

"Permit, electrical per code, wall insulation for the media room, paint and painter, trims and carpenter, framing lumber and the carpenter, doors, fire suppression system. The electronic damper system for the heat and air conditioner is included in the standard specifications for the basement."

Any upgrades to standard carpeting and standard electrical fixtures and sockets are additional.

Note that the powder room in the basement is an entirely separate charge of $6,000.00.

By the way, this is in the Philadelphia suburbs.

tony_B_wi 08-15-2006 10:09 AM

Tom,
Thanks! The input is greatly appreciated.

GreySkies 08-15-2006 10:24 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmnjus View Post

Even if you don't have moisture problems now, concrete does breath and give off moisture. It may not be noticeable when not covered.

Yep-- something else to think about-- I've heard that concrete that's not allowed to breathe while it cures (which can be decades) can weaken and potentially fail (granted, this is probably a fifty-year process, but I'm paranoid). I have a drain tile system underneath my basement floor, so even with the Drylock on top of the concrete, it can still breathe from underneath (theoretically). For my walls, they've been treated with a moisture spray on the outside, so I didn't Drylock the walls so the concrete can still breathe to the inside.

new_to_this 08-15-2006 10:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by gremmy View Post

Wow. That sounds high. I just had a 300 sq. ft. deck made with an expensive exotic hardwood (IPE) and a vinyl railing, with the deck 10 feet off the ground and a staircase, for 11K. All very high quality construction -- it's as solid as a rock.

I've got a bid to finish a 11.5 x 19 foot area of my basement (including riser, false wall, equipment cabinet, wiring, electrical, the whole bit except for carpet) for less than 8k.

I cannot imagine paying 30k for either of these items (the deck or the room).

I think you were had. Guess it depends on where you live but IPE shouldn't be considered expensive or exotic.

Juc 08-15-2006 11:09 AM

I just got a bid to finish roughly 500 sq.ft. in my basement for $7500. This did NOT include flooring or painting. This will be an "L" type configuration and included finished stairs, door to unfinished area, framed and drywalled walls and ceiling, insulation, electrical, and 2 closets with hardware. Mind you this is in rural Vermont.
JUC


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