Suppose it's just you. You are the only one to work on the basement. Maybe, like me, you're wife is pregnant or just had a baby. Or maybe your husband is overseas. Or maybe your partner, friend, cousin, neighbor just plain isn't interested in this type of project. This is not a big deal.
I would say that you can do 90% of the work completely on your own. Using the tips below, I think the drywall stage is the only spot where you must have more than one person. You will get a work-out though. That's one of the benefits of finishing your basement on your own - free weight loss and muscle building.
Here are 6 tips for finishing your basement solo:
1. CLAMPS, CLAMPS, CLAMPs
Oh how I love my clamps. I carried two or three on my tool-belt at all times. They are especially useful when you're framing walls.
I used clamps to hold the top plate to the joists of the basement ceiling while positioning it before nailing it in. I used them to move and hold a stubborn warped 2x4 in place so I could secure it with screws. You want the clamps that have the squeeze handle for one handed operation.
2. A Tool Belt
I didn't have a tool belt at first. I used my pockets and "CARTY" (see below). But when you are up on the ladder and you need the speed square and then a pencil and then a screw and there's no one else to hand you this stuff, it's essential.
Know what else, they are awesomely sexy to wear. Just work one in for a few weeks and then get your hammer in there , speed square hanging down, tape measure in the middle - BAM ! You'll see.
3. "CARTY" - Like Wally, but for basements.
This mini-cart with wheels is my friend. There are many like him but this one is mine. If I was lost on a desert island, I would choose this cart as my one luxury item.
Note on the picture that I modified mine to witha solid wood top, held on by teeny, tiny mini-clamps See, clamps, told you. You just wheel this dude around with you where ever you go and he'll hold all the stuff you need. Plus, you can reach the top of it with getting off your step stool.
4. SHELVES WITH WHEELS
These beasts are the older cousins of "CARTY". Not as cute but they serve a vital purpose.
Chances are that you already have a ton o' stuff in your basement. Just because it's not finished doesn't mean it's not good for holding stuff. Get all that stuff and put it on these heavy duty shelves with wheels. You can then move it around with the push of a finger any time you want.
Trust me, you will have to move it, multiple, multiple times. Plus, if you ever have to move, just wrap these up and roll them right onto the truck.
Pizza, Chinese food, babies and books. These are things that you think of when you think delivery.
Wood, air compressor, table saw, drywall, doors. These are the things that you can also have delivered to your house, in most cases for free.
Even if you do have a truck, lucky you, you likely do not have the time to go to the lumber yard or hardware store to pull, load and stack all that stuff.
Of course, you will need to buy some wood and lumber and use your truck or minivan to get it home. I made a ton of those trips.
But when you're ready to do the main portion of framing on your basement, call the lumber yard or big box store, get a quote and place an order for delivery. They typically will leave it in your driveway or street side if you don't have a drive way. Sometimes, with a $20 bill in your hand, you can convince the delivery guys to help you bring it into the basement for you.
This last one I have to put in because I did try to involve my kids in some of the work. They are down in the basement playing, always curious, always wanting to help. But at ages 6 and 4 sometimes their "help" was not so helpful. Kids are good for holding the end of the chalk line while trying to snap a line. Holding the measuring tape. Rolling "CARTY" over to you if you forget him. Thanks kids!
Basement Renovation - Working Solo Tips
I really did think, initially, that I would have a "framing" party. My friends would come over, we'd all do different roles and we would frame my basement in one or two weekends. Then maybe we'd drill some holes and run the electrical wire the next weekend.
So, so, wrong. This was more of a personal journey. A deep almost spiritual trip into my own psyche.
I actually found it harder sometimes to have someone helping because I didn't know what I needed them to do. A lot of times I just needed to mentally plan out the framing or comprehend what the electrical book was trying to tell me.
My friends were the most helpful when I was completely stuck on a topic that they already knew about. Rough-in plumbing, framing around pipes and three way wiring. I still needed the books, but they got me past the hump.
These are just 6 off the top of my head. There are many more I'm sure.
What are some of your top "going solo" tips that you've used while renovating your basement.
Oh, and send me pictures of your "CARTY". I'm sure you have one, give him or her a name and send it in, I want to create a wall of fame.
Cheers - Jason