Basement Renovation Update: May 2019

I realized I haven’t shared an update on our basement since March! Oops… time flies! Read on to see where we’re at these days.

We haven’t exactly made a ton of progress on the basement lately, unfortunately. We just don’t have the time it requires (especially with summer- read: weddings and bachelor/ette parties!- approaching), so we’ve decided to hire out a few steps. Although we’ve done about 90% of the renovations on this house by ourselves, we have occasionally reached out to pros when something is either too complicated or too time-consuming. A few people might be able to come in and finish a task in a couple of days while it might take us a couple of months to finish the same job. We both work full-time jobs and don’t want to dedicate every single free moment to this house. That being said, hiring things out means adding to the budget, which we’re trying to keep as low as possible. Because of that, we have to be strategic about what we’re hiring vs. what we’re DIYing.

If you want to catch up on our basement reno before reading this update, I talk about the demo and plans here, shared the design plans here and shared an update in March.


Here’s what we were hoping to finish since the last update, and where we’re actually at:

1 | Bathtub drain and vent.

Completed! We hired out this step as well, since it involved removing some concrete and plumbing into the main drain stack. We have filled in the concrete around it and it’s now all covered and ready for flooring and the bathtub!

Roughed in plumbing drains and vents in the Sima Spaces basement
In the far left of this photo you can see the shower drain (hidden under the box), the vent for the shower and sink vanity, toilet drain, and main drain stack (which will be hidden in the wall).

2 | Egress windows.

Completed! We had two egress windows installed (one in each bedroom area) and they let in so much light. We are so happy with the results! For all of you locals, we used this company and can’t say enough good things (not sponsored!).

Egress window newly installed in the basement | Sima Spaces
Our egress window on the south side of the house

3 | Drain tile.

Completed! The same company that installed the egress windows also installed the drain tile and they did a fantastic job. The sump pump runs frequently and the basement feels so much more dry than it used to!!!

4 | Floor planning.

Completed! We created a layout of the entire basement and decided on every closet, door, wall, and electrical/plumbing fixture placement. I made a 3D rendering using the RoomSketcher app, and Josh drew a scaled sketch on graph paper to submit to the inspectors office.

3D Floorplan for the basement remodel using Roomsketcher App | Sima Spaces
Basement Floorplan (furnishings and color scheme is not exact)

5 | Permits.

Completed! We pulled permits for all of the structural, plumbing, and electrical work we’re doing. This was not cheap- it cost over $600 for them all combined! Unfortunately when talking with the inspector, Josh found out that there’s a pretty big problem that we need to resolve. We have a support beam that runs the length of the house, and it is only 6’2″ from the ground. In our city, in order to call something a “habitable living area” (read: bedroom), all ceiling heights have to be 6’4″ or greater. This means that we need to recess the beam into the ceiling, which involves a significant amount of work. More significantly, we have ductwork running above the beam in the floor joists and we will have to rework that in order to recess the support beam. This is one of the main reasons we are going to hire this step out. Josh is comfortable with just about everything but isn’t super experienced with ductwork, and for something as serious as the entire support for the house, he doesn’t feel super comfortable winging it. We are going to ask the inspector to come over and see if he has any ideas on what we could do and then ask for a few quotes for the work that will go into it.

7 | Vapor barrier.

Completed! I had not included this on the original to-do list in March, but this is an additional step that we completed. We installed a thin foam barrier on the walls, which acts as a barrier to keep moisture locked in. We will frame on top of that and insulate with batting. It already has made such a difference and the basement feels so dry compared to how it used to feel- and doesn’t smell as damp and musty, either!

Roughed in plumbing, drain tile, and vapor barrier in basement
In this photo, you can see how the vapor barrier wraps around the rest of the basement. We will frame on top of it. You can also see the message we left for the person who rips up the carpet someday!

Reviewing that list, we’ve definitely made some progress, just not quite as fast as we might like. We are much more realistic about the timeline but we’re hoping that if we hire some things out, it’ll help to speed up the process a bit.

Here’s what we hope to accomplish in the next few months (this list looks very similar to what I had written in March!):

1 | Framing.

Josh has started framing, but just doesn’t have time to finish it all himself. We also have the structural challenge with the beam to deal with, so we’ve decided to ask for some help. We’re going to get a few quotes and we’re hoping to get it all framed out sometime in the next month.

2 | Plumbing.

When the framing is done, Josh will run the water lines for the bathroom and laundry room. He also has to move the drain and vents for the laundry as we are moving the washer and dryer placement. He also has to install the gas line for the gas fireplace we’re installing in the living room. We pulled these permits ourselves and realistically these projects shouldn’t take a super long time, so Josh is confident that he can do this all himself.

3 | Electrical.

Once the plumbing is done, we can move on to the electrical installation. We’ve already mapped out the placement of every outlet, switch, and fixtures- it’s just a matter of running all of the wires. This is tedious, but again, Josh is confident he can take care of all of this himself.

4 | Insulation.

We are planning on using batting insulation on the walls and ceiling. This won’t take very long to install as it’s really just a matter of cutting and hanging! We will be doing this ourselves- hopefully sometime mid-summer.

5 | Drywall.

This is one of the last steps before the “fun” stuff- painting, flooring, carpet etc! This is something that we could totally do ourselves- Josh has hung all of the other drywall in this house and I am usually the one to mud and tape. However, it’s also tedious work and where it might take the two of us maybe 2-3 weeks (read: weekends) to do, it might take a couple of days for some pros. Therefore this is a step we’ve decided to hire out as well. It’s spaced out far enough from the framing, so will give us some time to fill up our savings again in the meantime.

6 | Finalize design plans!

This is a fun one, for me, anyway. In order to have correct dimensions and placement for various builtins and fixtures (for plumbing/electrical/framing), I need to finalize the design plans! I’m nailing down paint colors, lighting, tile, cabinetry, fireplace, carpet, plumbing fixtures, and more over the next few weeks. I will share my progress in various posts as it occurs!


That was a long post but I had a lot to catch you all up on!! In the meantime, we’ve been busy working on the patio in our backyard… I’ll have a post for that coming soon! Anyone else feeling the pressure of renovations lately with summer quickly approaching? Hope you all are productive but also find time to relax!

Author: Laura Sima

Hi, I'm Laura! I have a passion for all things home design, decor, and renovation. My husband Josh and I are DIY renovators, currently working on our 1952 home in St. Paul, MN. I hope that by following along with us, you'll become inspired to find and create the beauty in your home.

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