Q. How much does it cost to finish a basement?
Our basements range from $35 to $45 per square foot, although square footage is not the only factor in the calculations. Linear footage of interior walls, customization, decorative elements, bathrooms, bars, existing location of pipes, vents, and sprinkler system and modification required thereof, all factor into the final price per square foot. There is no magic formula calculated merely by square footage. A decade of experience building basements and meeting the challenges helps us to give a fair and reasonable price that won’t go up as we build it.
Q. Can I do it myself? Possibly, but should you?
Even the handiest homeowner is easily overwhelmed by a monstrous basement and the considerable amount of time it requires to transform it into livable space. Do you know the local and national building codes and have the proper tools and expertise required to deal with the mechanical and structural challenges that lurk beneath your home? Considering the size of the project and the impact it has on your home as a whole, it is a risky investment of time and money, because the end result may not merely disappoint, but actually be unsafe, unhealthy, and devalue your home. We guarantee our workmanship and a flawless finish. We want your basement to shine! It's quite hard for an untrained homeowner to obtain the level of finish we guarantee.
Q. Why is this so expensive?
Labor expenses to design, frame, fire stop, wire, insulate, drywall, hang doors, and trim out the job make up most of the cost. Contrary to a layman’s beliefs, it’s not just simply “throwing up drywall.” (Or at least it shouldn’t be!) EBCON carries $300,000 in general liability insurance. We only use subcontractors who also are adequately insured, highly skilled, and properly licensed. We pull permits for all of our work and build to or exceed Building Code requirements. It costs more to run a legitimate business, and frankly, not all contractors go that extra mile. We think this is important to protect ourselves, our customers, and the building industry.
Q. How can I cut costs in finishing my basement?
We offer discounts when neighbors (same neighborhood) are willing to have their basements finished simultaneously. The biggest way to keep cost down is to leave a generous portion of your basement unfinished. It’s tempting to sometimes double your living space, but you could probably meet your expansion needs without breaking the bank. Adding interior walls, bars, and plumbing increases the labor immensely, and this is where most of your money goes. Keep a lid on customization. Be creative with furnishings and decorations so that you can achieve division within a large space. Drapery, screens, tall plants and creative furniture placement all cost less than building walls, that require additional lighting, heating, ventilation, electric, etc.
Q. Shouldn’t I install a drop ceiling in case I need to access my ducts, wires, or pipes?
Only if you prefer the look of a drop ceiling over drywall. There is no evidence to show that the mechanicals within your basement ceiling fail more often than those running throughout the rest of your home; therefore, we do not recommend installing a drop ceiling. A skilled tradesman can easily access the pipes, wires, and ducts within every ceiling and wall throughout your home, and simply repair the drywall afterwards. Don’t cheapen your basement with an unmatching and unattractive material choice based on an unfounded fear; it really affects the overall look and level of the basement finish.
Q. How do you hide HVAC ductwork, drain pipes, wiring, etc.?
A good basement design will turn these “problems” into features. Rather than building tightly around structural and mechanical elements and telegraphing what is hidden underneath, innovative designers employ beautiful architectural elements that both hide the “problem” and create a bold and interesting focal point in the room.
Q. How do we heat or air condition the basement?
We usually tie into the existing HVAC system. Because the exterior walls below grade will stay at an ambient temperature of 55 degrees year-round, cooling is not an issue. Air conditioning is usually not necessary to cool the new space, but rather it provides much-needed air exchange, removes moist air from the room, and circulates fresh air into the space. We recommend you use your air conditioning system on the “on” setting, as opposed to the “auto” setting. Code requires you heat your basement, but a basement also has less of a “heat loss” effect when compared to exterior, above-grade walls. You do need to force some warm air from the HVAC system down into the room. If your current HVAC system is overloaded, you can install a couple of electric baseboards or even a charming fireplace, on its own thermostat, as secondary heating.
Q. What are our lighting choices?
Typically, recessed ceiling lights (“cans”) are advised for general lighting, with wall sconces and table lamps adding style and additional task lighting. Be sure to take advantage of existing windows and enlarged egress windows that provide natural light. If additional lighting is desired, adding up-lighting can create the illusion of a higher ceiling, providing an extra layer of light within the basement level. Creative use of mirrors also multiplies the effects of lighting, and can be placed in otherwise dim areas.
Q. What is the most important phase of finishing my basement?
The design is most important -- it dictates what the finished product will be. Minimal thought during design leaves even a well-built basement looking lackluster. Compelling design, along with meticulous craftsmanship, yields spectacular results.
Q. Do you repair water damaged basements?
We do not. A wet or even damp basement can be hazardous to your health and is not a candidate for finishing until the problem is completely resolved. Best practice is to resolve the source of the issue rather than deal with it through waterproofing, mechanical removal, or dehumidification. Contacting a water resolution specialist is recommended. After the correction is made, we suggest you live through a couple major storms and change of seasons to be sure you’re 100% dry before you invest in finishing your basement.
Q. How can I fix my wet basement?
The usual culprit is too much ground water that isn’t properly diverted. Check for clogged gutters and grading that pushes water towards your foundation walls instead of draining it a safe distance from your home. If you can’t correct a water situation by redirecting ground water, you may need to install a sump pump or repair cracks in your foundation or walls.
Q. How do I avoid water damage to my basement during storms?
Most basements flood during a power outage. A battery backup system or generator to power your sump pump will keep you dry during a power-outage. Remember that much or all of your basement flooding may be due to improper ground water management. Fixing the source of these problems may solve your water issues completely.
Q. What is egress, and does it apply to me?
All buildings must have more than one way out in case of fire or emergency. An egress door or window must provide at least 5.7 square feet of net clear opening, per International Residential Code. In the case of adding a basement bedroom, the second means of egress must be within the bedroom. Townships will either require egress or be satisfied with a basement sprinkler system. EBCON will check with your Township and comply with their Local Building Code.
Q. How long does it take to finish a basement?
Depending on the size and the complexity of the job, it can range from four to twelve weeks.
Q. Will it make my house dirty during construction?
Not really. Expect your work site to be broom-cleaned daily and left in an orderly fashion. It can be dusty during the drywall sanding phase. We recommend you keep the heat or air conditioning off during the day that the drywallers are sanding so the drywall dust isn’t circulated throughout the home, and let the dust settle before turning the HVAC system back on. Upon completion of your basement, change the air filters within your HVAC system.
Q. Do you use subcontractors?
Sometimes, but don’t be afraid of our subcontractors! The plumber we hire to do our jobs has been with us for many years. He is respectful, honest, and does excellent work. Plumbing must be done by a licensed plumber. We also engage professional drywallers who we feel do an excellent job at a fair price. EBCON oversees all subcontractors. We can also recommend a reliable painter and carpet installer – again, people we’ve had relationships with for years, whose work meets our high standards, with the proper licensing and insurance to protect us, and you.
Q. Can I trust this guy?
Well, they’re too polite to say it, but they’re thinking it. This is the most important decision a homeowner is faced with. Ask family and friends for referrals and about their experience with contractors. When meeting with a contractor, do you feel comfortable talking to him? Would you feel comfortable with him in your home for a month? Do you find him easy to share ideas with? Does he have experience specifically finishing basements? Are the things that are important to you things that he also feels are important? (Quality vs. Cost) Does he give a guarantee? Always ask for references, and call them. Compare apples to apples. Some contracting companies will advertise a finished basement at a remarkably low price, but what’s included in that price does not even meet local township building codes. Their final price, when calculated with Code-required additions and your desired features, is usually much higher than the quoted price. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. The lowest price certainly does not equal the best job. “You get what you pay for” applies in contracting. Deciding on your contractor based on price alone is a mistake.