Music Mondays – Down to the Basement


I’m Going Down to the Basement

Hey Everyone – I have spoken about our basement DIY project on the blog here, and I felt it was time to share the story. Unfortunately, all I contributed to the project was my painting skills and a sympathetic ear. So, here is FB Hubby’s take on the basement finishing project.

The Onset of the Plan

When we purchased our house, one of the selling points to us was a huge unfinished basement, about 130 square meters (ok, 1,400 square feet, my never ending crusade for the metric system). We knew at some point we would want to turn it into something more than just a place to store stuff. I talked to my dad about finishing it with me as he has completed several of these projects in his lifetime, and I had never tackled something this big.

Over the past two years, every time my dad would visit, he checked out the basement to devise a game plan. After he left, he would call at least twice a month to discuss the project and his thoughts. He had me measure and take pictures of every last inch of the space. After almost two years of planning, my dad and I figured out exactly what we would do.

The Plan

We decided to only finish half of the basement and leave the other half for storage and as a work room. My dad felt as though we could still create a wonderful family space by only finishing half, and it would not only save us time, but also save us money. Initially my brother planned to help with the project as well; however, he hurt his knee earlier in the summer which left just me and my 75 year old dad for the task.

A month before we planned to start the project, my dad emailed me a full shopping list to order from Home Depot and have them deliver the materials we needed to the house before he arrived. It was a long list including things like sheet rock, wood for framing, insulation, joint compound, ceiling tiles, flooring material, electrical, etc. My dad has an amazing collection of tools at his home in South Carolina, so he planned to drive up at the onset of the project to bring tools and an SUV for us to run back and forth to Home Depot.

Sticker Shock

A few weeks before we started the project, I went to Home Depot and ordered everything my dad told me to. When it was all totaled up that day at Home Depot, the final amount was definitely much more than I had budgeted for. Much more! I was really shocked. When I got home and told Shannon, she was even more shocked.

As I looked over the order, though, I realized that the flooring material (I had chosen cork flooring) was almost half the total cost. I did some quick research and found that I could get a great look and result with vinyl at more than a third of the cost. So I quickly canceled the flooring order and purchased the vinyl tiles myself. This brought the cost back down to something closer than what I expected, around $3,800.

down to the basement
Beginning view of the basement.

Ready to Go

Now we were ready to go. Home Depot delivered everything on time, and I had a friend come over and help me load it into the basement. My dad arrived that night, and the next day we were off and running. To say it took longer than expected would not do justice to the project. Even dad said that he underestimated the time and overestimated his own abilities. (You have to give the guy a break, he is 75).


The first few days we worked on framing, wiring and insulating the walls. When that was complete, we sheet rocked and finished the walls (or as my dad called “mudding”) with tape and joint compound. When the walls were dried, we had to sand and mud them again, and then do this a third time. We lost a bunch of time during this part of the project because the basement was so cool the compound did not dry fast enough.


Once the walls were complete, we worked on the drop ceiling, the flooring and cutting the baseboards. At this point my dad’s trip was coming to an end and we realized I would have to finish the project on my own (with Shannon’s help).

Final Results…So Much More Than I Bargained For

By the time my dad left, 10 days later, I still had to paint, finish the floor, wire the lights, finish the ceiling, install the baseboards, and do touch up work. I probably spent another three weeks doing this in my spare time, as school had started back up. From beginning to end, the project spanned almost a month in our home. It was stressful on everyone, and the most exhausting thing I have ever done; however, the best part of the project was doing it with my Dad.

down to the basement
My dad and Will after a long day in the basement.

Every time I look at our finished basement, I will always remember how we did it together (that and the stories we told while drinking each night). The time with him was the greatest return I could ever imagine out of the experience and this is an important reminder about DIY projects. They are not always about saving money.

DIY projects give you the opportunity to spend time with people you love and create something together.


Hey Dad, I’m Going Down to the Basement

So the basement project took much longer than expected and involved almost daily trips to Home Depot. It also cost about 30% more than I had planned, but in the end, it turned out great. We are already enjoying it as a play zone for my son and a workout area for us. (In fact Will goes down there every day. He also loves to show it off to his friends).

down to the basement
View of finished basement.

The return on the investment will be more than just what family time we get out of it. According to several real estate estimates, a finished basement can add an average of $20-$30 per square foot to your home. That means that the $3,800 we put into this project could add $14,000 to $21,000 to the potential resale value of our home.

down to the basement
Finished product. It now has a bedroom set and our workout equipment.


So in honor of the basement project, my ultimate in DIY, I have chosen this fun song called The Basement by Eric Hutchinson as my Music Monday. I like the lyrics about going down to the basement for fun and to rock and roll. (Also, I must have said, “I’m going down to the basement” fifty times during this project, but now that is what I hear my son say).

What is the biggest DIY project you have undertaken? Did it come in over or under budget? Do you like to DIY?


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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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