Start Here to Finish Your Own Basement – It’s easier than you think.

Charlotte and Christian are ready to get started. If only they didn’t run away when the air compressor kicks in.

The toughest part about finishing your basement is just getting started.  Thinking about how you could use that extra space, all the fun you could have down there, what great shape you’ll be in and how you might design your basement.  That ‘s the easy part.

Trust me though.  As fun as it is to dream and cut out pictures of your ultimate basement, it’s even more fun to build it yourself. 

If you finish your own basement you will never look at another basement or even another house for that matter the same way again.

7 posts to help you get started:

Finishing a Basement  – There a 8 major phases to finishing your own basement. This article will give you an overview of each and links to detailed posts. Plus, the one secret skill that you’ll need to complete the job. Hint: You used to have it when you were a kid!

Imagine the benefits – Increasing your home’s value by thousands.   Complete design flexibility.

Basement Permits and Inspections – Don’t let the permit process scare you.  Read through this post to put your mind at ease.

Design Time -  I loved the design phase.  Once I learned how to do the design and how helpful it was to have a design I spent tons of time planning my new basement space.

Working Solo -  Tips and tricks for literally finishing on your own.  As in 1 person.  As in, my wife is upstairs pregnant and watching movies.

One Small Wall - Get going already.  Forget all the stuff above and just build a wall for kicks.  You can hang some pegboard on there and have a spot for some tools – here’s how.

Perfect Basement Finishing Weekend - What’s that you say…?  You can only work on the weekends?  Welcome to the club. No problem, if you follow some of these tips you can still finish your own basement even if you only work on it on the weekends.

Once you get started and gain some confidence in your ability you’ll be ready to tackle the other major basement phases electrical, plumbing, and finishing.

2 Areas People Always Ask About

Here are two things I was worried about before I got started with my basement project. These really kept me up at night and prevented me from getting started. Put your mind at ease, these are not hard to solve. Here’s everything I know.

Basement Waterproofing – Does your sump pump go off a lot?  Have you had a basement flood before? Does your basement smell like a gym locker sometimes? I had all of the above and solved them. HOW I solved them may surprise you.

Radon Gas Testing - Are you freaked out about Radon gas? Don’t worry… well, worry a little. Radon can cause cancer. Even if you’re not ready to finish your basement you should test your house for radon. I researched the inter-webs for 4 days and boiled it all down to these key points.

basement finishing jasonThe only big phase that I contracted out was the drywall phase.  When I priced it out I just couldn’t do the work for less and I knew I could save months and  months of time by letting the pros do that step.  It took them about a week and they did a fantastic job.

Cheers - Jason

Not quite ready to start?  But you’d still love to get some inspiration, some ideas and some money saving tips?  Signup for the email newsletter.  I usually only send about 1 email a week and it’s chock-full of home improvement and basement goodness.

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Comments

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  1. Anne-Marie says:

    I desperately want to finish my basement. The ceilings have exposed plumbing and seem low to begin with. (I have a small Cape). Any suggestions for a low ceiling?

    • Anne-Marie – Yes! I do have a suggestion… I would consider spray painting the ceiling. All of it! There’s a picture of one on my Pinterest page. I’ll keep a look out for more photos of that technique and post them to Pinterest if I find them. It looks really cool, I kinda wish I had tried that. -Jason
      http://pinterest.com/pin/18436679694634348/

  2. This is a great web site! Great ideas and planning. That first demo or remodeling job is always scary but with proper planning and the right tools it gets done fabulously! Love reusing materials and the wood pallet wall is an awesome idea!

  3. So glad I found this sight! I built my house 8 years ago; and STILL have not closed in my basement! I am going to get started! My basement is shared with my garage; so it will only be about 500 sq ft. I want a full bath; but don’t know how to configure the floor plan? Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Thanks for commenting David. Good luck with your project. The key is to focus on progress not perfection. Don’t give up on it if you get stuck, just take a few days break, then come back and give it another shot, you will get it! -Jason

  4. Luv the great advice; but I have another problem??? Heating and air! I live in the South and the humidity alone will kill you! I am considering the mitsubishi mini split. Do you know of anyone who has used this product; and been very pleased with the results?

    • I don’t know anyone whose used that. Hopefully it helps, basements can be great for beating the heat as they are usually insulated by being underground. -Jason

  5. John Murray says:

    I had been kicking the idea around in my head about finishing our basement, but couldn’t seem to find any good resources on framing, etc. Then I found your website! I’m totally sold on the idea, have my plan drawn up and I’m going to get my building permit this week. Thank you for the encouragement and expertise!

    • BOOYAH! I totally know how you feel. You’ve got an inkling of an idea and you’re like “do people really do this?” And then you get just little push and some place to go for “real” answers and you feel awesome because you knew all along that it’s something you could do. And you can and will. Suddenly something out of reach financially and seeming out of your control is right there in the palm of your hands. Let me know if you need any help. Have fun! – Jason

  6. So, here is a question: what if the basement is dry and all, but it is just, legit concrete walls and floor? Am I supposed to do something to the concrete (like…paint it with something?) to insulate before framing it? What about a sump pump, what heck do people do with those when refinishing? Any advice is enormously appreciated…

    • Leah – With the exception of the insulation my basement was also just concrete floor and cinder block walls. Like you I did not have any moisture issues. Basement was dry! So no, I don’t think you need to paint the walls with drylock or anything like that. I made the area holding my sump pump a storage area, other than that, I didn’t touch it. Good luck! – Jason

  7. How about if the basement does not currently have any egress windows? Any good, cost saving ways to address? Thanks

    • Tina – Wish I had some more content on this topic as I know they’re expensive. But… I don’t, at least not right now. Anyone else have some egress window tips? Please chime in. – Jason

  8. I have a “finished” basement that was done by the previous owners when they had the house built to save money. Problem is, they really had no idea what they were doing and never finished. I can work with the framing and drywall as is, but I would like do redo the ceiling, add an exterior door next to the one car garage, finish the roughed in bathroom, and add carpet and tile. There is already electric throughout. Do you have a rough idea how much we can expect to spend? Everything I am reading is based on a complete finish. Thanks for the great website!

  9. Joe Wilson says:

    Quick question…..about to buy the “book” as it looks really good, but needed to know if I would be able to access it from multiple devices (if i download it on my laptop, will I also be able to download on my iPad?)

    • Hi Joe. Yes, you can access it from multiple devices. The book is a .pdf, so you can put it anywhere. You’re login will work from any device, so you can login to the members site and download 1 or 100 times, it’s up to you. Videos also work across 99% of devices. It works great on iPad, absolutely. – Jason

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