Construction budgets

In the next couple of weeks my very talented brother-in-law, Contractor Bill, will be moving into our house for about a month so he can begin construction on our basement. Sam and I have been looking forward to this project since we bought the house. The previous owners began the finishing process, but they didn’t do a great job and either ran out of money or time (or both) before they were able to complete it. In a way, I’m very pleased that they didn’t get it done, because frankly some of their design is flawed, which gives us the opportunity to tear out what they started and finish it in the way we want to.

Several months ago, Sam and I sat down and started discussing the budget for this project. How much of it can we do ourselves? How much of it can we do on the cheap? And how much of it can be done in stages as the cash becomes available? After a bit of discussion we agreed on a number, moved the cash into a separate savings account and began making our list of wants, needs, and can’t live without this. As the list grew, and grew, and grew, we realized that our budget might have been too conservative. *Cringe* So we went back to the list and started to prioritize things; which translates to “cut”, “chop” and “nixed”.

Currently the basement is the place where the dogs live (and will continue to live once the renovation is completed). It is a walkout basement so they have plenty of access to the back yard and the full run of the space down there, so it’s not like their lives are miserable. Keeping them down there simply keeps the red Georgia clay off my creamy, white carpeting in the rest of the house.

However, our intention once the basement is completed and some new (and doggie friendly) furniture is delivered, is to make that our primary hang out space. Right now, it’s cold, and dark, and sparse, and not really a place that one wants to spend much time in. Our TV is down there, but we really don’t watch it much unless it’s for a movie. And there is no bathroom down there, and well, Sam drinks a lot of tea. And while we don’t plan on just throwing up some walls and installing the cheapest commercial grade carpeting we can find, it is also not meant to be a palace. We want it to be functional, yet cozy and in the style of the rest of our home.

One of the things in our basement plan that we’re really debating about now is the installation of a fireplace. Neither of us were prepared for the cost factor of putting that in, although it is something that remains on our “I don’t know if I can live without this” list.

The fireplace in our living room is one of the main features we both love and use regularly. It helps us to keep our heating costs lower in the wintertime and we just love the sound of a crackling fire log. Plus, don’t you think fire has a mesmerizing effect on a person? So it’s something that we would thoroughly enjoy in the basement – especially in the winter. But with our current budget, the fireplace installation would eat up a serious chunk of it – creating a cash flow drain that could eventually force us to do away with something else that is equally important to the project, like carpeting, or extra lighting, or sheet rock. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Oh how I love to make them…not really.

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