Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Basement FInishing

Well, got the first estimate on the basement finishing. Ouch. It looks like the cost per square foot can start as low as $35 here, and doesn' t seem to have an upper limit. From what I can tell, the lower end is a "standard" finish, which is pretty much run-of-the-mill carpet, framing/wallboard, standard interior doors, 3" trim, can lighting. As you run up the cost, you get better carpeting (which I think is a requirement over a concrete floor), the same framing and wallboard, doors that match upstairs, trim that matches upstairs, etc. Again, ouch.

I want the basement to match the upstairs, as much as possible. I hate basements that look like bad 1970s panelling jobs that are completely out of synch with the rest of the house. I really do want the same woodwork and doors, and, well -- anyone who knows me knows that I have a) expensive tastes, and b) I'm very picky. This does not bode well for the basement refinishing or my sanity.

We're thinking of refinishing about 900 square feet into a home theater, a fairly large wine cellar, bathroom, a "family room" and exercise room. Really, what we're talking about is putting a framed wall inside the concrete all and adding a bathroom. Nothing really fancy, except that we have uncommon doors, and more detailed woodwork than most new houses. Maybe 900 square feet finished -- and the first estimate came in "somewhere between 35K and 50K". Um, that's a bit too large a gap for me, and it was explained as "it depends on what you pick for fixtures and finish". I asked them to try again, with a bit more detail. I'm impressed with their design service, and we might cough up the 1500 bucks to have the architect do the design and get bids on that. I'm not sure.

I do know that smaller basements cost more -- the cost per square foot is roughly $45 if you include a bathroom (the most expensive room to add to a basement) and that it goes down as you finish more than 1200 sq ft, for example. But...ouch. I mean, it's a worthwhile investment (espeically the theatre) but that's a bit painful.

Then again, based on what we spent on the kitchen remodel in the other house, I shoudln't be surprised. We figured less than 50K for the basement, which I think is more than reasonable for what we're looking for, but I think we may have to change the scope of our job a bit to get there.

I guess the biggest question is whether we really need to do the basement at all -- it's entirely "fluff". No one needs a home theater with a 115" screen. No one needs a winecellar. It seems a ridiculous expense, but we both really do want the "fun" parts. I keep having second thoughts because I think that, my god, this house is way more space than the two of us need and we're going to expand it? We do watch a boatload of movies, and having the big screen is something that both of us want...but I keep thinking that there must be other ways. We're used to doing the work ourselves...hiring someone to do the whole things smacks of laziness or something. I guess crossing the "more money than time" line is very difficult for us. Neither of us are good at framing or wallboarding, but the rest of the finish work? That's always been something we've done ourselves. Having someone else paint, for example, is a bit hoity-toity for the likes of us.

But we are total DINKS. We have the cash, we can swing the remodel. We wwant to watch Stanley Cup hockey in cinematic glory. The Adorable Husband assures me we can do it even with me not working right now (I go back on 4/15). I'd like to start the work before I head back, so I'm here when things get rolling. Beyond that, it's a matter of getting quotes from reputable builders. It's harder than you think.

Unlike the painting contractor -- he never showed up to give me an estimate. Yeah, I'm likely to hire him, you think? The guy doing the 3M window stuff was prompt and I fully expect the work to be painless.

I've got another contractor coming tomorrow, and a third on Monday. W'e'll see what comes of things. We may scrap the whole plan right now, or we may be figuring out how to give workers access to the house while we're at work for 6-8 weeks. More to follow...

1 comment:

laurafingerson said...

Yes, you DO need a home theater with a 115" screen! Boy oh boy - I can see it already. Every year the girls will be begging us to send them out to visit the cool aunt and uncle with all the cool stuff. Here the Eden Prairie folk thought THEY were the cool aunt and uncle since they have a 48" plasma television and a really comfy schmanzy sectional couch. Although, you two have mountains and that already rates a pretty high cool factor.