DIY Diary: Basement Remodel

After almost a year in our new house, we decided to finish the basement. This project was always on the list, but we chose to prioritize it over the many other updates the place could use. Because: kids.

We’ve always hoped for our home to be a hub for kids. And while we don’t really need more space for our family, we do want to have a large, open space (with a door we can shut) where the kids and their friends can hang out. In our home group-based fellowship, it’s always good to have a meeting space for Bible studies, youth group, or classes. It’s also ideal for kids’ parties and sleepovers. Did I mention there is a door? Shutting the door when KidzBop is blaring is my favorite.

After considering several configurations, we decided to build a small office/guest bedroom next to the small unfinished utility room.

Before (picture from listing)
Before storage (picture from listing)

Neil worked hard in his “spare time,” which is usually a few hours on Sundays. His brother has helped a lot, and some friends lent a hand as well. Thanks guys!

Before doing anything, Neil replaced the 30-year-old sump pump. They he took down the old drywall, besides the part splitting the two smaller rooms. He and his brother installed insulation, which instantly raised the room temp by 6-8 degrees, and made the whole house feel warmer. They capped a pipe from the old utility sink, framed the utility room and office, installed lots of outlets and lighting, and drywalled over 1000 square feet. It seemed like he would be mudding for the rest of our lives.

Framing the utility room & office

This is the part where I reached a breaking point. The long summer days of parenting were wearing me down. I was co-teaching a class. Neil was squeezing in basement work in between all his other responsibilities of work, family, and volunteering. We weren’t getting enough time together as a couple. The project began in February and we hoped to finished by August.

After a few days (years? decades?) of feeling crazy, I blurted out a unplanned rant to Neil outlining our dilemma and the only solution I could see: we needed to hire people. We didn’t want to cut back on time with our kids, our friends, and our volunteering responsibilities. But we could hire someone to finish drywall. And get babysitters for dates and extra study time for the class.

We found a babysitter and a drywaller. $500 later, Neil saved himself about a month of Sundays.

Next, Neil and his brother installed sub-floor that improves the comfort while also protecting the carpet from water damage. Then they installed doors and trim, following by priming, painting, and more painting. Neil said he never wants to paint anything Accessible Beige again. This is unfortunate because I’m terrible with color and just want to paint everything this shade. Carpet went in mid-August. We’ve furnished it with Facebook Marketplace furniture, and decorating is up next.

Before carpet
After carpet. See, I’m terrible with color. Oh well, the carpet will be at least a shade darker in no time.

The total project cost around $12,000. Thanks, stimulus checks! While that is A LOT of money, it’s by far the cheapest way to increase the size our house by 50%. Neil and his brother did a very nice job. Whereas before our “rec” area was painted cinder blocks and thin carpet on the cement in an awkward long rectangle, we now have a fully insulated, fully finished, comfortable space. This should be a perk whenever we do sell our house. (Although it might need to be entirely remodeled by the time the kids are done with it!

More importantly, it will make our home more useful and useable. The day after carpet was installed, Neil moved his office out of our bedroom. Thank God! The following week, my son’s birthday sleepover had 800 square feet to run around, and I could shut the door at the top of the stairs! My friends and I also retreated down there when the bugs were getting bad while hanging out outside last week. The kids love playing board games, Pop a Shot, laser tag, and video games downstairs. And blaring KidzBop.

We bought too many chairs!

FYI we decided to leave part of the ceiling unfinished since we will need to replace kitchen and bathrooms in the next few years.

This was by far the most expensive home project we’ve ever done, mainly because the sheer size of the room. It’s been the perfect meeting spot for the intermediate-grades Bible study we started this fall. Soon we’ll have an art night where they can make some art for the walls! (Plus some to take home with them.) I’m also holding a women’s dance class next week 🙂

Where did all our junk go after deleting our storage space? Good question! We do have two shelves squeezed into the furnace room, and Neil put decking in the attic space above our garage. We did get rid of a respectable amount, but aren’t really at a minimalist moment in our lives right now. Like, we NEED 12 obsolete video game systems. Because: fun.

I’m so grateful for Neil’s DIY skills, his brother’s endless helpfulness, and the resources to complete the project. And I look forward to lots of fun times in our new space.

What’s the biggest home improvement project you’ve ever done?

2 Responses to “DIY Diary: Basement Remodel”

  1. Carrie says :

    The biggest house project we have ever done was adding a legal apartment to our basement. Our adult son lives in the apartment and gets a deal on the rent. Our plan is the apartment will provide extra income when we are retired.

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