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No matter what you're building, it should start with a plan, with all specifications mapped out. You will have a proper start and a perfect finish to your project.  That's why the first step when renovating your basement, is to measure your existing basement. From this you can plot the correct position of walls, structural beams, ducts, hot water tank, water meter, fuse panel, windows and stair location. You then determine what your needs are today and in the future. If you cannot do this yourself, architect would charge between $500 - $1,000, depending on the size of the space. Ideally you want an architect to draw and design your basement, but a designer that specializes in this field can do a great job. If the designer/architect you are working with expects you to come up with all of the ideas, then you have the wrong person. On the other hand, if you tell the designer/architect where you think everything should be, then the designer/architect has a difficult client on their hands! In a proper scenario, the designer/architect will sit down and discuss your needs. Once they have gathered all the information, then they can start the drawing process. If you bypass this first step, you're headed down the wrong path.



Depending on the size of the basement, the designer may use different scales. The most common scale is 1/4" per foot. Take your time when examining your drawings of the proposed basement layout. Let the designer explain the layout and why they have positioned things where they have. A proper drawing should include all walls, built-in furniture, and furniture such as sofas, chairs and pool table. This is very important. You want to know that the furniture fits and that you can walk around the pool table. Consider the placement of items with regards to what is on the first floor. You don't want a bedroom below the kitchen, or the home theatre area near the stairs. Most plans are open concept, so try to tuck the bathroom in a place that's out of the way.



Great, you love the plan! Now what does it cost, and what are the materials? Your plans should come with a specification sheet detailing all materials. This should be very detailed! For example, it should include the model and make of the toilet. There is a great selection and difference of quality in all of the materials going into the project. Without such detail, you cannot compare plans/specifications from more than one source. Now take the drawings home and look at them for 3 to 5 days. Remember, it is very easy to make changes on paper. It is a lot harder once the walls are up. Get back to your designer within a week when both parties are fresh regarding the drawings. Make a detailed list of any changes you want, including items you want to add.



If you want to get more than one price, you now have the tools to protect yourself. With your drawings and specifications, you have the information to give to the company bidding on the work. This is the information required for pricing. If the company tries to switch specifications make sure that they have a good reason. They could suggest that you spend more money on the shower stall, because the one you wanted is known to leak at the base. If they try to change everything, and everything is cheaper, beware! If one company is a lot less than the other, but both are using the same materials, watch out for the company charging less. Ask for an explanation. It is a common mistake to not price a project properly. Look for a company that is busy Ask for references. Some companies supply as many as 100 or more letters. If you're ready to sign with a company it is appropriate to ask to speak to previous customers.


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