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Wall studs in an unfinished basement ready for wall board to be installed.

Estimates for Basement Renovations in 2019

Dear Mr. Electrician: I am planning to have my basement finished with a living space and play area for the kids.  I called several carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and heating contractors to give me suggestions and estimates on what could be done.  The prices that they came back with are all over the place.  Not one contractor's quote in any trade is close to another's.  Can you please help me sort out my basement renovation? Answer: You are off to a good start by meeting with contractors.  You need a plan for your basement improvement and maybe some specifications.  The more planning, the more power you will have to make informed decisions.  Having plans and specifications will enable you to compare estimates because each contractor will be bidding on the exact same work.  This applies to any home improvement project.  NOTE: Text links below go to applicable products on Amazon. Planning a Basement Renovation Draw sketches and/or plans on your own.  Write down exactly what you really want as far as design, layout and materials.  Determine what would be nice to have if you had the money.  Figure what you might want to add later after you've finished paying for the initial project.  Put together a list of specifications for materials such as brand of windows, type of heating/air conditioning system, lighting, flooring, sinks, toilets, etc. Don't overlook small details like choice of faucets, wall switches, dimmers, electrical receptacles, cable TV jacks, telephone jacks, network connections, paint, molding, doors, etc.  Not all materials are the same.  There are different grades for everything.  The building codes only specify minimum standards.  You decide if you want better quality materials. If you do not know what you want, you should look at other projects that are similar to yours.  Talk to your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and relatives.  Go to design showrooms.  Look in magazines and books.  Talk to suppliers.  I know this is a lot of work, but to get what you want out of your home improvement project you need to do your homework.  If you don't know what you want, how can you expect your contractors to know? Something else to consider is your long term needs.  Do you plan on staying in your house until you can no longer care for yourself?  If so I suggest that you consider installing some accessibility features to enable you to stay there.  Grab bars, wheel chair accessible showers, lower wall switches and higher electrical receptacles are all things that will make life a little easier as it becomes more difficult.  Take a look at the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Finding a Contractor for Your Basement Renovation There are design/build contractors available.  They have designing and/or architectural abilities as well as the means to build your project.  These contractors are becoming more and more popular for the simple reason that your contractor is on board during the planning process and is able to provide input from a build aspect as well as design.  In addition your designer is available during the...