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Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

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Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

Old 12-12-07, 08:44 AM
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Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

So my wife and I just got married this past October and now we are looking to buy a home (in the NOVA area). We have narrowed down our search and it will likely be a "new build." So now we have options, all of which effect the price, of course.

We want to have home theater in the basement at some point, but cost is a huge concern. Is there any benefit to having a basement "finished" during the building process (cost or otherwise)? Is this something I can do on my own, perhaps cheaper and more customized to our tastes later down the line? I have zero experience, but I'm willing to learn by doing.

At this point in time my "home theater" consists of a 42" Panny plasma, a Pioneer VSX 1015tx receiver, low-end Polk Audio speakers and a Definitive Technology sub. Since I don't have the equipment to make a really rockin' theater right now, I'm not in too much of a hurry. But I'd hate to be kicking myself in the future saying "Why didn't I do all this in the first place?!"
Old 12-12-07, 08:48 AM
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builders usually charge way more money to finish a basement than it would cost you to hire someone after and way way more than it would cost you on you own.
Old 12-12-07, 08:55 AM
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My basement went unfinished in my home for 18 years.

When we decided to build a theater, I was able to plan and hire a contractor to do things exactly as I wanted them done.

It is unlikely that the builder of a new house would allow you to run speaker cable, video cable, cat 5 cable, conduit, add lighting, dimmer switches, build risers or add other custom details.

Bottomline IMHO would be to take the unfinished basement and plan/save for the future and get it done right the first time.

You can see part of how my theater was built in my sig.

Good luck.
Old 12-12-07, 09:19 AM
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I would wait. Why;

Your builder is going to charge more
Your builder is likely not a home theater expert
You do not yet know what you want. This includes layout, equipment furnishings, etc.
You do not want to be rushed
You do not want to be distracted. You will have enough issues building the house. Save the theater when you can really devote the time and energy to it

I planned my theater for a good 6 months before doing a single thing. And mine is not complicated or elaborate. You will want to research, research, research. You will want to learn about theater rooms, theater hardware, furnishings, accessories, drapes, carpet, risers, wiring, etc, etc, etc.

Like Brian, you can see much of my theater build in my sig. I did 100% of the work myself. As you can see if comfortable, not elaborate.
Old 12-12-07, 09:56 AM
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It's usually EASIER to finish a basement during pre-construction. However, as many have pointed out, that doesn't mean that it won't be less costly.

The best of both worlds would be to get a decorators agreement and allow a professional to design and do the pre-install during construction.

Don't be like my parent's neighbors, who were putting an HT in their basement but neglected to tell their contractor where to put the lines for wiring.
Old 12-12-07, 02:42 PM
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Thanks for the input everyone! I really appreciate it.
Old 12-12-07, 05:49 PM
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It's worth the extra $ to have a higher ceiling in the basement.
Old 10-05-10, 11:54 AM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

Well, its been a few years and I am revisiting this topic. We went with the consensus and decided to leave the basement unfinished when we bought the house. Now we have saved up and are ready to finish the basement and create a basic home theater/entertainment room.

I've ruled out doing much of the work myself other than running the low voltage wiring and possibly installing insulation/sound dampening material in the ceiling. The contractors I've spoken with have been fine with me doing that much.

However, the estimates I've been getting are quite a bit higher than I expected. Our basement is not very large and we will be leaving a portion unfinished for laundry & storage. All told, we're looking for about 700 sq. ft. of furnished space which includes a full finished bathroom. We had rough-ins put in when for a bathroom & wet bar when we built the house. The first estimate we receiced was 46k, which I thought was unreasonably high for the size of area we are dealing with. Our most recent estimate was $32k, which while better than the first still seems high to me.

While I have been asking for a few specifics such as running plumbing for a future wet bar (though that would come later down the line), opening the stairway wall and installing a banister, and recessed lighting, I don't think we are going for extravagent by any means. Am I being naive or do I just need to get some more estimates? I've read basement finishing is usually between $25 - $35 per sq. ft. - but I'm not sure if this includes bathroom space or just straight living area? At this point, the home builder's price is looking like it would have been cheaper. I wouldn't think that would be the case, especially in this economy.

Any thoughts/advice are appeciated.
Old 10-05-10, 12:24 PM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

I don't know the extent of their work, but this company does audio/video for homes. I think they do custom work for home builders as well. They may be worth it. I picked up a few Paradigm speakers for the parents a few years ago. I think they focus on installation more than speakers, but their store space selection isn't bad and they were nice.

http://www.audiobuysinc.com/

I agree those estimates seem high, but then again that may be what you get in our area. Careful on the low end. I had a friend burned by a contractor finishing his basement and it certainly wasn't anything fancy. Not only did they mess up, but it looks like they bailed town too. He eventually worked directly with some of the guys that were subbing to the guy.
Old 10-05-10, 02:26 PM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

Count me as a satisfied audiobuys customer. They do all the low-voltage wiring for Toll Brothers out in South Riding. They did all the speaker runs prior to drywall and the hdmi runs for various televisions and did my projector and screen install in the basement. If you want I can post a few pics of their work.

-Tim
Old 10-05-10, 07:37 PM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?





Wow!

I did my basement myself so I can give you some idea of what the materials cost. My room is 32x32. I split the room into two equal sides. I framed it out, ran electric and plumbing/baseboard heat, sheetrocked it, painted it, added real mahogany wainscoting around the entire space, built a 15ft solid mahogany bar with a mahogany back bar, berber carpet on the theater side/linoleum on the bar side. I did track lighting and recessed lighting. My cost was in the $5k range. All materials were purchased in White Plains, NY (this is not a cheap area). Your quotes are making me consider a new career.
Old 10-28-10, 11:49 PM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

Originally Posted by parrotheads4 View Post




Wow!

I did my basement myself so I can give you some idea of what the materials cost. My room is 32x32. I split the room into two equal sides. I framed it out, ran electric and plumbing/baseboard heat, sheetrocked it, painted it, added real mahogany wainscoting around the entire space, built a 15ft solid mahogany bar with a mahogany back bar, berber carpet on the theater side/linoleum on the bar side. I did track lighting and recessed lighting. My cost was in the $5k range. All materials were purchased in White Plains, NY (this is not a cheap area). Your quotes are making me consider a new career.
It all depends on how handy you are or how handy your father is. I would never pay 35K to finish a 700 sq.ft. basement.
Old 10-29-10, 09:16 AM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

I should measure my basement and see, but I think it's around that size.

It's fully finished, has a full bathroom (shower only) 2 utility closets, and a main room. The floor for the whole space is tile. It has a finished ceiling (not drop). I'll see if I can find some pictures.

The previous owners had it put in the year before we bought the house 4 years ago, and I saw the bills it was around 23k if I rememberer correctly. I think juts the permits for all the work was around 1k.

Although your estimate seems high, I think it's not unreasonable based upon the bill I saw for ours - unless ours was also high

This is in MA btw.
Old 11-06-10, 08:54 PM
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Re: Buying a New Home - Should I "Finish" the Basement Now or Later?

If that is just four walls, I would "think" that would be high. If you are dividing that space up into several rooms, electrical in each, running a/c & heat in each one, maybe not so much.

I'm sure you want a professional look, drywall is really easy to install. There are so many DIY options. There is no way you wouldn't want to recruit a few pals and tackle it on a few weekends? Even if you want to put up a couple of interior walls, pretty darn easy.

That is a lot of money for a home theater (least in my book) even if a fair price. I'd see what you can do yourself.

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