Building Boom

Utah’s Latest Building Boom

It’s been almost 9 years since the big crash and finally we’re back into an up cycle for building in Utah. Many clients have asked if I think we’re in for another crash similar to the one we experienced in 2007. My understanding from talking with friends and professionals in the business is that the downturn in 2007 was largely due to too much inventory. When things started to go bad in 2007 there was over 5 years of inventory (i.e. unsold new homes) on the market in Utah. That’s a lot of inventory. For several years, as credit tightened, and inventory levels increased due to foreclosure, the prices of homes continued to drop. That’s basic economics and it was a tail spin that took a long time to pull out of. Now, we’re at it again. Everywhere you look there’s a new building project and we’re benefitting from the increased activity like every other contractor. The key to long-term success is to keep unsold inventory at a good place… that’s usually less than a year of inventory unsold. Right now that’s about where we’re at. If we maintain this level things should go smoothly, and hopefully, we’ll avoid another disaster similar to the one we had in 2007.

How Long Will it Take to Finish Your Basement?

The two questions we are most often asked:

#1: How much will it cost
#2: How long will it take

The first question requires some time and effort to work up an exact proposal but the second question is easier to answer.

We finish most of our basements (90 plus percent) in 8 weeks or less, once we have a building permit. Basements with complex kitchens or other complex features like a theater room will take longer.

We want to finish your basement as quickly as possible and minimize the disruption that construction brings. During construction we will update you weekly as to the progress we plan to make and keep you informed of the overall process. If you have questions or need clarification on any process, let us know and we’ll do our best to clarify.

If you have a particular need for speed or need your basement completed by a specific date. Let us know, and we’ll factor a rushed schedule into our bid, and give you completion time guarantee.

We hope that your basement finishing process with be a smooth one and we know that part of this process is finishing your basement as quickly as possible.

Basement Flooding and Water Damage

Will My Basement Flood?

It’s a common question that we receive quite often as bid basements. For obvious reasons people are more concerned about a basement flood now that they’re contemplating spending a substantial amount of money to finish it. There is no way for us to know with 100% certainty is your basement will flood but there are some indicators we use to make a good guess.

  1. Has it flooded in the past? If yes, did you fix the problem that caused the flood. Most floods are a result of poor or improper drainage around window wells. You have to address the problem. One recent client had an annual flood in there basement every spring near a downspout. We fixed the problem with 20 feet of flexible drain hose. What ever the solution is take care of it now.
  2. Are your window wells deep enough? The weak point for every basement is the windows and window wells. If you do get a little water down the well a couple of feet of gravel at the bottom may be enough to absorb the water before it comes into the house.
  3. Are your sprinklers well adjusted? Broken or poorly adjusted sprinklers can quickly fill a window well and lead to disaster. Keep and eye on this. We recently had a client who went on vacation and had a lawn service do their yard while away. They broke a sprinkler near the window well. The next night and every other night for the next two weeks the broken sprinkler would fill the window well. Slowly that water would leak into the basement through the window frame. It was a mess.

A little fore site will really help. Look for potential problems and fix them now. If your basement does not have  a history of flooding and you’ve been in the home for awhile you’re probably safe. Still take the time to make sure you have good drainage and that your sprinklers are properly adjusted.

 

photo of a great basement paint job

Doing It Yourself- Finishing Part of Your Basement to Save Money

When we meet people for our first consultation, we’re often asked, “can I save money if I do some of the work myself?” The obvious answer is yes, of course, but my follow-up question is, are you sure you want to?

The most common element people would like to do themselves is painting. It seems simple and for the most part it is. The thing about painting is that it’s not very expensive. For single tone painting we pay $1.15 per square foot. Once you buy the paint  and supplies for the job you may save $.75 a square foot on your basement.

The cost savings for painting is minimal and the value of a solid paint job cannot be understated. It is basically the last thing we do to your basement (other than floor coverings) and can make the job look fantastic or mediocre. There are so many little things that make a paint job great and can easily be missed if you’re not experienced. Things like having straight lines at color changes, small runs in the paint, uneven back rolling, failure to back roll, uneven paint that leaves a striped look when seen from an angle and chunks of paint in the finish from not keeping your spray nozzle clean.

We’re happy to let you paint and do other non regulated work in your basement. Often though, it is more efficent and you get better results that you’ll be happy with if you let professionals do the work.

We’d love an opportunity to bid your basement finish. Call us for an appointment. The consultation and bid are a free service: 801-706-0148  

Photos of basement finish work from Basement Pro Utah

Finish Work

Finish work is an essential part of an attractive home. The trim or baseboard that are installed range from simple to ornate. Most of the basements we finish go with a standard 3 1/2 inch trim package that looks great and is part of our standard finish package for basements.

Some clients like to match the main floor of their home and request a taller or more ornate trim package. For these basements we bid it out and give you and exact price as part of your bid.

Some fun options that you may consider for your basement:

  • Board & Batten: this is a great option that really dresses up a room. See the pictures below for examples.
  • Crown molding: this is a little harder to pull of in a basement. I’d recommend at least 9 foot ceilings or it just doesn’t look right. It’s a great way to add a formal look to a room and really dress it up. Popular applications are family rooms, theater rooms and offices.
  • Bead-Board: A variation on board and batten. This is a little more cost-effective and gives a similar look. It’s popular in kids rooms and mud rooms.
  • Chair-rail: A great way to dress up a dinning room, bedroom or just about any area of the house. This looks especially good when you change the paint colors on the top and bottom of the railing.

Standard finishes for trim are white or lighter colors on the trim, in a two or three tone paint scheme, and darker walls. Recently we have been getting more requests to vary the color and include darker colors on the baseboard and lighter colors on the walls. This adds a distinctive look to a room or the whole house.

Another look that has really gained in popularity is all wood trim that is clear coated. We just finished a home that has over $50,000 of Alder trim. It looks spectacular.

Most basements look great with our standard package for trim. See the photos below. But if you’d like to get fancy call us, we’ll give you a free bid on your basement and we can discuss ways to use trim to improve the look of your basement. 801-706-0148

Photos of Highland Utah Basement Finish

Smooth vs Textured Walls

Styles come and go. What was once the rage is now silly. I remember having super cool green shag carpet in my room as a kid. (I’m still not sure why shag carpet was so cool.)

If you look at neighborhoods you can often tell when they were built by the type of exterior material used. Aluminum siding and cheap fake rock screams mid 90’s. It was the style then.

Drywall styles have changed over the years. It used to be that all walls were smooth finish. It was a sign of skill to make the walls look good, smooth and even. Cheaper homes used texture to hide flaws and speed up the process. With time this changed. More builder started to use texture as a design element. Slowly it became the standard.

I don’t think I’ve seen a non textured ceiling in years. They’ve very difficult to do right. The light and shadows on a ceiling show every flaw. You’d need a very, very good drywall person to make a flat ceiling look good.

The same is true of walls. You need more skill to do a flat, non textured wall.

In the last few years smooth walls have made a comeback. They’re gaining in popularity. Personally I love them. They’re easier to clean, look great and if done well paint looks wonderful.

The advantages of textured walls are that they’re somewhat cheaper and seem to hide dirt a little better. Some people also use texture as a design element. I guess some textured finishes do look great. They’re also used for some complex paint applications.

We’ll give you what ever you want in your basement. usually we match the main floor. If you want a smooth wall the additional cost is marginal. Maybe a few hundred dollars. Personally I prefer a smooth wall but everybody has different tastes and preferences.

If you’d like a bid on finishing your basement give us a call 801-706-0148. The bid is fast and free. We’ll include a complimentary computer generated design of your basement with every bid.

basement outside entrance

An Outside Entrance

We have put in more outside entrances for basements in the last year than we have in the previous 11. It may be a feature of the current economy. People are looking for a way to stay in expensive homes. Rental income is a logical way to do this.

Adding and outside entrance cost between $5,000-$9,000. The mitigating factors include ease of access for the excavator and how deep we have to go. Obviously shallow basements are less expensive than deep basements. They require less excavation and a lot less concrete.

If you’re considering a basement apartment give us a call. We’ve done a lot of outside entrances in the last year and really have them down. We’ve also become very efficient in converting basements into apartments. There are little features that we can point out that will make the experience much better for you and your future renters.

If you’d like more information about basement apartments or basement finishing in general, give us a call 801-706-0148. 

photos of basement lighting- can lights and pendant lights

Light Up Your Basement

If there is one area of your basement, I could encourage you to spend more money — it would be lighting.

Most basements are dark. The window wells cut down on available light. The bulbs installed during construction are barely adequate to keep from tripping over the stuff you are “storing” in down there.

There are two ways to approach lighting that work in basements.

  1. Add more lights and put in bulbs with higher ratings. You’ll get more light and it will be move even.
  2. Add can lights. I love this option because the light is very even. The recessed can lights it give the illusion that the ceiling is higher than it actually is. They look great.

Can lights cost $50 each for a standard, good quality fixture. The average family room needs 12-15. For an additional $600 you’ll transform your basement from a dark dungeon to a bright space that everyone enjoys.

Call us for a free bid and we can explain more options for lighting your basement: 801-706-0148.

Image of a green or eco friendly home

Going Green with Your Basement

Everyone wants to save money on home utilities. Saving power and water with green improvements are a simple way to do this.

Going green or being Eco friendly is often though of as being expensive. For instance installing solar energy panels will set you back at least $10,000.

But “green” doesn’t have to be expensive. Installing energy star compliant appliances is no more costly than standard appliances. Upgrading heating and air conditioning to be more efficient is a minimal expense. More insulation is very cheap. Using high-efficiency light bulbs just makes sense.

A good rule to follow when considering a green upgrade is, whether you can pay for the upgrade with savings over a seven-year period. Seven years is the average time Americans stay in a home before moving. That should be your minimum recapture time frame.

For those who are extremely eco-conscious or just want to reduce their carbon foot print, price may not be a consideration.

Regardless or your budget and view on the environment, there are simple adjustment we can make during construction that are cost-effective and will save you money on your monthly utility bills. Most of these adjustments are a minimal increase in cost for your basement. We’ll go over these options with you when we meet with you to measure your basement. Call Basement Pro for a Free Basement Estimate and we’ll give you a Free Basement Drawing/Design: 801-706-0148.

Low VOC Paint

Have you ever gone into a home that was recently painted and noticed a strong odor of paint? That smell is a result of  volatile compounds within the paint being released as it dries. Many experts feel that breathing those fumes is not good for you. It’s particularly bad when the paint is drying.

Recently, we did some remodeling to a Doctor’s office in Sandy. One of the requirements of the project was that we use only low VOC paint. It was a requirement for their insurance. Obviously, they want everyone who visits their office to be safe and for the remodel to be as free from complications as possible. Low VOC paint was one component of this goal.

Not everyone is sensitive to paint fumes. If you are and would like us to use low VOC paint, just ask. The cost difference is minimal and the paint is about 90% as durable as standard paint. It may make your new basement and your whole home a more breathing friendly place.

For a free consultation on your basement or to find out more about low VOC paint and other green options for your basement call 801-706-0148.