Monday, March 11, 2013

Susie & Ike's Basement Remodel- Guest Blogger (DIY vs. Hiring Out)

We are back with round two of Susie & Ike's basement remodel mini series! In case you missed her first post, read all about it here.  Enjoy!

So when my husband said, let’s start planning the basement, my immediate thought was “oooh, what colors should I pick” and “where does my craft table go?” What I didn’t see coming was the steep learning curve ahead of me. I consider myself a fairly well educated person, but I had absolutely no idea where to start when it came to such a major remodel project. I mean really, who knows the price of tile vs. carpet? So we decided to list off the projects in a somewhat chronological order and decide whether we felt we could tackle them ourselves or if we should contract it out:

-Stud basement*
-Install electric boxes*
-Install necessary television and cable lines*
-Hang drywall*
-Mud/tape drywall
-Install ceiling grid*
-Install ceiling tiles*
-Install flooring
-Install baseboard
-Install bar/cabinetry
-Complete lighting*
-Hang televisions*

The items with the asterisk are items we figured we could (and by we, I really mean Ike) could accomplish to save money. Now, before I go any further, it is important to note that we had the hands-on-help and guidance of his contractor cousin for a majority of those steps. And we couldn’t be more thankful we did. While I am sure Ike could have tackled it solo, it would have taken three times as long and been even more brutally exhausting than it already was. To give you an idea of labor hours, it took approximately two full weekend days each to stud, hang drywall, and install the ceiling grid. For reference, we measured approximately 160 feet of perimeter walls.

While they were tackling the “boring” parts, Ikester and I were busy stopping at every home hardware shop in a 30 mile radius learning everything there was to learn about flooring, cabinetry, and countertop options. For any of you moms of toddlers out there, you can only imagine how fun it was after the 7th store. But, let me tell you, I am an encyclopedia of information which I can’t wait to share in upcoming blogs.

So my whole purpose with this post is to help you identify what items you could take on and what you may want to considering hiring out. With that said, here is a summary of things I learned that may affect your decisions:

-Overestimate…on everything. From time to materials needed and the costs associated, it is essential to overestimate. Between making return trips to the hardware store because you didn’t realize you needed that certain tool until it was necessary to complete the project and the cost it took to buy you that tool, your time and money may be better spent hiring a contractor. I mean really, when are we ever going to use tin snips again? And although all those tools are $10-20, it adds up in the end…and Ike started with quite the extensive toolbox already. So when you lay out portions of the project, it may be a good idea to cost all tools and materials necessary for completion. Don’t forget to include transportation of such materials (thankfully we own a heavy duty pick up truck that was able to transport an obnoxious amount of 16’ long 2x4’s.)

-Do not underestimate the exhausting labor. When you hire someone not only do they complete their given project, they also do all the legwork. For instance, the above mentioned transporting of lumber…and then the carrying it through your living room, down a set of stairs, and around a corner. 12’ x 4.5’ pieces of drywall are awkwardly heavy, and when you need 30 of them, the prep work in itself is overwhelming not to mention the actual installation of them. So when I said it took a weekend per portion of the project, that was just the actual install. Thursday nights were set aside for purchasing, transporting, and trekking it all downstairs.

-It’s overwhelming for everyone involved. As a mom, I look forward to the weekend when my husband can split childcare duties with me…and for that matter, so does my son as he enjoys quality time with dad. On the weekends Ike worked on the basement he started at nearly 5:30 am and didn’t stop till 8 or 9 pm. Keeping a toddler out of his way wasn’t always the easiest. Not to mention, the ongoing mess any construction project incurs. My house was coated with an 1/8” of dust on a continual basis and my floors had more boot tracks than a nature walk does. Needless to say, we missed the quieter weekends. Oh, and a quick pointer for families out there, invest in a set of play tools for your little one, not only does it distract them from the real ones, it makes for cute picture opportunities.

-Every spare moment is devoted to the project. When a contractor is hired, you are still required to pick your finishings and the such, but most often you are only dealing with that one person. Between estimators coming for floor measurements, spending countless hours on the Internet browsing for the lowest cost option, and again, numerous trips to every hardware store around, your project quickly becomes your life and that of your partners, too. For every section of the job, especially those we hired out, I got at least three quotes on. That’s three times the trips to carpet stores, three times the estimators coming to your home, and three times the phone calls.

So, while we did sub out some major projects, we still acted as a general contractor of our basement completion. No doubt this, along with my husband’s hard work, saved us money. However, I thought it best to prepare all you readers out there so you really know whats coming. Because if you’re anything like me, you read all these cute DIY blogs and think, “that could be us,” not realizing the sheer amount of work that goes into each step of the project. In the end, though, both Ike and I admit we’d probably do it all over again!

See you next time to finally talk about something fun…color schemes!



  1. DIY vs. Hiring Out - a very great debate to put up! Haha! Of course, hiring out would be the easiest and the fastest way, it's just that it'll cost you a lump sum of money. But if you have money to spare, then I say hire some professionals to do the job! DIY is not a bad idea either, you can save a lot of money and you can keep an eye on every detail possible.

  2. What we did was we paid some contractors to help us dry wall and framed but we actually helped them during the process - so that saved some money. We did hire out for the plumbing and electricity though - those are things that are best left to someone with experience or certifications!

  3. One of the most pertinent problems that homeowners encounter with their basements is with regards to water damage. This is why a basement remodeling project should first and foremost consider proper waterproofing before trying to convert this room to other useful purposes.

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  4. How awesome is it to have that kind of space?

  5. Nice post. I have bookmarked you to check your new stuff. Thanks for sharing this useful information. Its really useful for us.

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  6. Wow amazing basement work....!!!

    Thanks for sharing bro...!!!!
    Keep it up..!!!

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