Managing a Basement Remodel

Get tips on tracking costs, hiring contractors and working with permits.


Photo courtesy of Basement Ideas

Photo courtesy of Basement Ideas
By: Karin Beuerlein

Related To:

It's possible to manage your own basement project from start to finish rather than hiring a general contractor, but it's not for everybody.

If you're trying to save money, Steve Iverson, owner of Finished Basements Plus, recommends pitching in on labor rather than trying to juggle the entire project yourself. But if you love creating custom spreadsheets, solving problems and working with people, here are a few tips for surviving your basement project.

Hire an architect to design the space.

Your first order of business should be figuring out what your priorities are in terms of design and making sure your plan adheres to building codes, such as those for egress windows. Get the design in place before you begin hiring subcontractors.

Design a customized spreadsheet to track the project.

You'll need to be able to see pending payments, shipments and deadlines at a glance.

We're sorry, there seems to be an issue playing this video. Please refresh the page or try again in a moment. If you continue to have issues, please contact us here.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring
Loading Video...

Choose products designed for basements, such as paneled wall systems.

Think like a professional contractor and forgo traditional studs and drywall in this moisture-laden environment. Wall systems designed specifically for basements will insulate, inhibit mold, and create far less dust and debris in your house for the duration of the project.

Go by the book with permits.

You'll need to file for the main building permit. Don't be tempted to skip it. Permits for portions of the project will require contractors with separate licenses, such as the plumber and the electrician. Contractors doing the work will pull permits filed under your general permit.

Write out a thorough scope of work for each contractor you hire.

Have a complete plan in place that won't change in the middle of construction. "Everybody should know from beginning to end what his or her responsibilities are," Steve says. "Change orders in the middle of work delay things longer than you think they will." The single biggest thing you can do to ensure success is maintain constant communication.

Expect wrinkles and potential delays.

Coordinating subcontractors and the delivery of materials — and negotiating the inevitable delays that occur along the way — is the most difficult aspect of managing the project yourself.

Give yourself some cushion. Depending on the scope of your project, expect it to take six to 12 weeks to complete rather than the two to six weeks you'd expect if you hired a pro.

Next Up

Top Six Basement Spaces

From media rooms to home offices to bars, get tips on transforming your basement.

How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add?

A finished basement is a home improvement project you get to enjoy twice: for the added living space, and again at resale when you're paid back for much of the project.

Basement Building Codes 101

Knowing what you can and can't do is a key to good planning.

Basement Remodel: Splurge vs. Save

From bars to insulation, get tips for where to invest money and how to cut basement remodeling costs.

Before You Hire a Basement Pro

Choosing a contractor is one of the most difficult decisions. Here's what you should ask.

Add Style to Your Finished Basement

Get tips for choosing the right finishing touches for your basement remodel.

Solving Basement Design Problems

Mechanical systems and other obstacles can present design opportunities. Get tips for tackling the most common problems.

Basement Bathroom Ideas

Using available space to build a basement bathroom will cut down on expenses.

Assess Your Basement Needs

Your unfinished basement could be the most popular area of your home. Use these tips to begin your transformation.

Is Your Family Ready for a Big Storm?

Providing a secure location during severe weather is important for your family's safety and peace of mind. Get tips for stocking a disaster kit and setting up a safe room before a tornado or hurricane strikes.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.