The Process of Finishing a Basement Remodeling Project

 In General

The first steps to a successful basement remodel includes starting small and thinking big. You also want to determine what your end goals are for your basement and what you are looking to get out of it.

If you are not sure where to begin, the fastest way to the finished product is to start as soon as you have something of value.  Yes, you may make some mistakes throughout the process, but learning from your mistakes is the absolute best method to learn.

Yes before you ask, you will need permits, but you can hold off on that step for the moment. So, are you ready to get started?


Planning Process

Planning the design you are looking to create within your basement should be your first step before starting out all the construction work. You will want to have an idea of what you want/need in your basement such as a bathroom, guest room, home theater or even a space for a pool table. All you have to do is draw up a basic plan of how you envision your completed basement.
For the digital tool-savy, consider a software for some advanced computer=based basement design plan.

Now, the fun part! After you give yourself an idea of what you are looking to add to your space, it is time to dive in to the details! Below is a list of steps to finish your basement. Don’t worry, you do not have to do everything, just enough to get a permit and the steps to move forward.


If you want all of the features listed above to be installed in your basement but only have a small space and a tighter budget, creating a detailed list of what you can do to compromise what you want and what is realistic in your budget will be the best route for you to take.

Phases of Remodel

Although these phases of a basement remodel can overlap, there are the major basement finishing phases you will likely experience.

  • Framing-If you have been putting off your project wondering where to start, building the frames of the basement walls is a perfect starting point. Framing a wall is simply creating an outline that will help when installing a new wall. It makes the walls strong and durable. You build the ‘frames’ of the walls of your rooms out of wood, typically 2 by 4s. Take care of the basement wall insulation before framing. It is usually recommended that you start to lay out your electrical plan before fully completing the framing. This will give you a clear picture about how to lay out your electrical wiring within the walls.


  • Electrical-  Yes, you do not have to hire a professional to do the needed electrical work unless you would prefer it. This aspect of the project is usually the most expensive so if you take care of it yourself, it could save you a ton of money. This is a skill you can learn in just a couple of days and you can complete up to 95% of the work on your own. It is true that you will probably need an electrical contractor to help with installing a sub-panel that will allow you to complete most of the electrical wiring job. If you are in a big rush to just finish your basement, this wiring step will likely prolong your project. Of course, in this case, hiring an electrical contractor can help to shorten the project curve. Lighting is definitely included in the electrical installation phase.


  • Plumbing- Once you’ve tackled electrical, plumbing is a piece of cake.  It’s a different piece of cake so there is a decent amount of learning, trying, failing to go around but you’ll be the king of the castle with your wife if you can fix plumbing issues. Between 20% and 30% of your budget will go toward the cost of installing a bathroom in the basement. Again, start first with a design of how you want this to look and then work with the rough-in to fit. The exact steps involved in installing a bathroom will really depend on all the features you want to install in there, which might include this unique and sexy bathroom sink. But the basic steps include: If you do not want to hire someone to do your plumbing, you need to learn how to do it. The learning curve is roughly as long as the time needed to learn about electrical wiring. If you do not want to hire someone to do your plumbing, you need to learn how to do it. The learning curve is roughly as long as the time needed to learn about electrical wiring.


  • Drywall- Basically, drywall is heavy, dusty and a timely process to learn it correctly. It also is not saving you as much money compared to hiring someone to do it for you. With that being said, we highly recommend hiring a professional. Again, if you want to do it yourself, that is an available option. After passing the electrical and framing inspections, you are free to get started on the drywall.  If you’ve passed the electrical and framing inspections, you can jump right into the drywall part of the project. While you could do the drywall on your own, it is a demanding task and there is not much of cost-saving compared to hiring someone to do it for you.


  • Painting- Just like setting up the home theatre, painting should be fun too, especially if you get friends or family to help over a weekend. It will also save you money in the long run. The first step professional painting is learning how to cut-in. This simply means painting the topmost part of the wall that is can be difficult to reach with a roller. A 3’’ angled brush is perfect for cutting in while a 12’’ roller brush is great for the rest of the wall area.Lighting is key when painting to ensure the walls are painted nice and smoothly. A lot of light is especially important if you are painting at night. Something that will make the difference between a perfect paint job and a mediocre one is primer. A lot of people ignore this especially when painting a new drywall but you should not overlook it. It just makes your job so much easier and prettier to the eye.


  • Trim & Doors- You need to seriously plan out where your door will go even before you start the renovation process. Do not wait to do it later after everything is in place. Some important things to consider include: Placement of the door handle and door size. Typical questions you may ask yourself during this question may be something like Should your door push in or out? Should it open right or left? These are questions you want to ask when thinking about where the door handles should go. Regarding the door size, Doors are usually a standard 32’’ but a 36’’ one is much better aesthetically and in terms of strength and durability. Just remember that the door framing needs to be 2’’ larger than the actual width of the door to allow for expansion during warmer months when wood tends to expand. It is highly recommended that you buy a solid core door—these are high quality and longer lasting than the other types of cheap, non-solid core doors.


  • Flooring- If you thought plumbing and wiring had a steep learning curve, try flooring. A lot goes into it, from choosing the most appropriate type of floor material, durability, comfort to installation. You will probably need a contractor to do a good flooring job; it will save you a lot of backbreaking effort.


  • Entertainment- Setting up the home theatre is perhaps the most exciting part of finishing your basement. Whether you want to dedicate the entire basement space to a home theater or you just need a small cozy space for this, here are some things to consider:
    • Choose a wall to install your screen
    • Allocate an antenna wiring for HDTV and cable
    • Assign a cable for internet
    • A dedicated electrical circuit is a must-have
    • Fix a wire for the surround sound speaker
    • Install a conduit and ceiling plug for the projector



Now is the time to discuss permits. After you draw up a simple basement plan specifying the kind of features you want to install, the next step is to check with the local municipality to determine the permits you need. If you are doing any electrical and plumbing work, you certainly require a permit.

So there you are, transforming your basement into a cozy entertainment getaway is no easy task but it is completely doable. What’s really important is to get started and just keep learning.


Once you learn how to learn you can do almost anything you want. With electrical, you took something you knew nothing about, read books, websites and watched videos and now you can do almost any residential electrical work.

There you have it. If you’ve done each of these phases then you are now sitting in your finished basement, watching a movie or playing pool while your friends are mixing you drinks behind your new bar. You know the exact answer to how to finish a basement.


By sharpening the learning skill you now have the one tool that let’s you do anything you want.

You now know how to finish a basement.  Now all you have to do is start!


Pharo Heating & Cooling is a full-service HVAC contractor in Madison. Our team provides top quality service for new construction and replacement furnace and air conditioner needs. For more information about annual furnace inspection or concerns, give us a call at 608-849-5410 or submit a contact form through our website

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