Our Basement Remodel – One Week In

Our basement remodel officially kicked off and I’m so eager to share the progress with all of you. To review, our basement flooded with sewage water in September (more on that saga here) and we were forced to remove all of the subfloor and drywall in the space. Basically, we were starting from scratch down here and we chose to see it as a positive and make the most of the space.

Before we get to the basement remodel progress, I want to give you an update on the sewer plans.

Scoping The Sewer Line

Scoping the sewer line

Back in this blog post, I detailed all of the options we considered to prevent the sewage water from ever coming into our home again. We decided to go with an exterior sewer backup system that will be installed in early December. Before that is installed, they recommended getting a scope of our sewer line between our house and the street to make sure there weren’t any blockages (debris, tree roots, etc.) and that the clay pipes were all intact.

That happened a few weeks ago. They put a super long camera into the pipe and pushed it all the way to the city sewer, underneath the street. It was so fascinating to watch on the camera monitor and I learned so much. One follower pointed out that it was like a colonoscopy for our drain pipe. Ha! That was the perfect way to describe it! Thankfully, the drain pipe was all clear, so we are set to move forward with the installation of the exterior sewer backup system next month. And yes, I realize that we’re “taking a chance” starting the remodel before the new system is in place. We figure we’ve lived here for three years without a drop of water in the basement, so hopefully, it can stay dry for a few more weeks!

Basement Remodel Progress

Our contractor and his team started the remodel and it has been going so well. (Reach out to [email protected] if you want his information. He is fantastic!). He and his crew even worked over the weekend to keep the progress going. These photos were taken after six days of work. I can’t believe how much progress they have made.

Finishing The Storage Room

Our basement pre-flood
Our basement remodel one week in

The most noticeable difference is that there is no longer a wall between the main area of the basement and the storage area. Then, a wall was built to close off the utility room and a door was added. (Don’t worry, we’re adding a vent to the utility room, so it’s properly ventilated).

We’ll be using this space as Finn’s office area and we wanted to have it opened up to the rest of the basement to make it feel larger and get some natural light in there. I’m amazed by how much bigger the basement feels with this space open!

Our basement remodel progress

Of course, the little area still needs electrical, molding, and drywall to be finished., but wow! I’m loving it!

The Front Window Bench

The large "stage" near the window

Remember this large “stage” underneath the front window? Well, it was there to hide our main water line that lives underneath it. The stage itself was pretty large and bulky and took up a lot of valuable real estate.

Our new window bench in the basement

It’s important that we are able to access the main water line, but we had the remodel team build a much smaller bench over it. It’s drywalled and the top will be wood, with a hinge, so we can pull it up and access it! I can’t wait to decorate this cozy corner with pillows and books for the kids!

Our New Doors

New doors in the basement

The doors made such a big difference down here. Our old ones were all trashed in the flood and I’m secretly happy we were forced to upgrade to these. They resemble the doors we have upstairs, but instead of being solid, they are hollow. That saved at least $500. We love the solid doors throughout the rest of our home, however, we were looking for areas to save down here.

The Drywall & Sub-Floor

Our basement remodel one week in

The bulk of the work has been adding the new drywall and subfloor to the space. A few of you asked why we have the wood down and it’s to make the floors level. Our house is over 100-years-old and everything was sloped to a drain pipe in the middle of the ground. When the basement was finished (I’m guessing in the 90s), they added wood to make it level, with a plywood subfloor and carpet over that.

We decided to continue with our gameplan of carpet down here, even though basements can get water. Why? The number one factor is cost. Carpet is the least expensive option when it comes to material and labor. Plus, if we did go with a vinyl plank flooring, it might also have to be ripped out if it got wet! The only truly waterproof flooring is a finished concrete slab, which we didn’t want. We want this to be a cozy place to play for our kids, so carpet it is!

The Budget

Our basement remodel progress 1 week in

You guys know I’m always transparent about costs, so you can learn how much home renovations actually cost! Down here, the labor is about $16,000 and the materials (plywood, drywall, doors, etc.) have been about $2,000. This doesn’t include paint, which I’ll be buying and doing myself, once the crew is all finished.

Choosing a Paint Color

I’ve been trying to figure out the best paint color for the space and I ordered these awesome sample swatches from Clare Paint. Initially, before the flood, I really wanted to use a dark paint color to camoflage the less-than-stellar doors and walls. Now that everything is new, I’m less tempted to go with a really dark paint color.

The reason I’m shying away from a white or light color is because I think it can often look a little dingy and dirty in a space that doesn’t have the best natural light or lighting. I think a saturated color can look more high-end, and really ups the coziness factor. I haven’t landed on an exact shade just yet, but I’ll keep you posted!

Still To Come…

We still need to add electrical, baseboard, and carpet and then they’ll prime the walls so the drywall will be all ready for paint. I’ll be sure to do another blog post once the professionals are wrapped up, My guess is that will happen this week! Then, my immediate plan is to install a wall of shiplap (it’s been sitting in our garage waiting for me) and paint everything!

I’m hoping I can get that done this month, before the chaos of the holiday season begins. My big goal is to have the basement construction-free by Christmas so the kids can start playing down here. Fingers crossed! Thanks for your enthusiasm about the space. We are thrilled with the new direction…

Catch Up On Our Basement

Our flooded basement

Here’s a look at all of the basement plans I’ve shared so far…


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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