The Basement Finishing Process: What To Expect

Finishing your basement space is a fairly extensive process that has many steps. A typical 1,000 s.f. basement remodel takes about 4-6 weeks to complete, with many different parties (framers, electrician, plumber, plasterer, building inspectors, finish work/flooring/painters, etc) involved. My team of 5 full-time employees handles everything in the process except for the electrical, plumbing and plastering, which is sub-contracted to licensed professionals with whom I have an excellent working relationship. As for supervision, I am an on-site approximately 50% of the time, and my Project Supervisor, Joe Calzaretta, is on-site whenever I am not around. What follows is list of steps involved in the entire process.   One thing that is important to understand is that there will be days where nothing happens, as we are juggling the schedules of the different parties involved, so gaps in the project are inevitable. Here’s what to expect:

Step 1: Initial Walkthrough – You and I walk through your space and talk about the features you would like to see in your new space. I will offer suggestions based on my experience in other homes. Once we have come up with a rough plan, I take measurements of the entire space, taking care to locate features (stairwell entry point, lally column locations, low beams, egress, windows, etc) that will need to be incorporated into the plan.

Step 2: Floor Plan and Cost Proposal – I will email to you a scaled floor plan and a detailed cost proposal, itemizing each phase of the construction process. Optional items (for example – finishing a stairway with oak treads and pine risers) will be itemized as well. Once you’ve reviewed these, we can tweak the plan any way you want.

Step 3: Contractor Agreement – Once we’ve settled on a plan and you’ve decided to go ahead with the project, I will email a 2 page contract to you, spelling out cost, start/finish dates, payment schedules, etc..

Step 4: Building Permit Application – Approximately 2 weeks prior to our start date, I prepare the building permit application and submit it to your city/town for review and approval. It can take 1-2 weeks to have the permit approved, depending on the city/town.

Step 5: Start of Project: Framing – Once we’ve been issued a building permit, we can have our initial stock list delivered and begin framing in the space. Typical time to complete: 3-4 days.

Step 6 – Rough Electrical/Plumbing/HVAC – With the space framed in, our Electrician installs his plug and light boxes and wires the space, and if applicable the plumber and or HVAC technician do their rough-ins.  Time: 2 days.

Step 7 – Rough Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC and Building Inspections – First the Electrical Inspector must inspect the rough wiring and if applicable the plumbing and mechanical inspectors approve the plumbing/HVAC rough-ins, then the Building Inspector inspects the framing. Time: 2-3 days.

Step 8 – Insulation – After the 2- 4 rough inspections, we fill the stud wall cavities and rim joist area above stud walls with fiberglass insulation. Time: 1 day.

Step 9 – Insulation Inspection – The Building Inspector returns to inspect the insulation. Time: 1-2 days.

Step 10 – Sheetrock/Plastering – Our plasterer hangs the blueboard throughout the space, and applies plaster to all of the board. Time: 3-4 days.

Step 11 – Doors/Trim – My crew installs all doors, window and lally column trim, built-ins and staircases if applicable, baseboard trim may go in now if the space is being carpeted, otherwise it goes in after the flooring is installed. Time: 4 days.

Step 12 – Final Electrical/Plumbing/HVAC – The electrician returns to install all plugs, light fixtures, cable tv and connect the new circuits at the panel, and if applicable the plumber and HVAC technician does their final installation.  Time: 2-3 days.

Step 13 – Painting – My crew paints all ceilings, walls and doors/trim. Time: 4 days.

Step 14 – Flooring – My crew installs the flooring (laminate, tile, harwood, etc). For carpet, I use a sub-contractor, or some homeowners opt to arrange for carpeting on their own. Time: 3 days

Step 15 – Walkthrough and Punchlist – As we approach the end of the project, Joe Calzaretta or I will walk through the new space with you and see if there are any items that need to be addressed. These are typically small items that can be handled the same day.

Step 16 – Final Inspections – Final Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical (if applicable) and Building Inspections are done. Time: 2-3 days.

Step 17 – Move in and enjoy your new space!

Hopefully, this timeline helps you to better understand what to expect during your basement finishing project. One final point – I have never had a basement project go from start to finish without at least a few changes from the original plan. That is to be expected, and I encourage you to be involved as the project moves along so we can give you the exact features you want, hopefully without taking any steps backward.

I look forward to working with you on your basement project!

Mark England