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My Bilevel Basement Development

This is information on my second basement development. The house is a bi-level, approximately 1,500 square feet in size. The exterior walls were framed, insulated, had vapor barrier, and were covered in drywall when I bought the house. So basically I had to put up interior walls, wiring, and the bathroom. The basement was developed into a family room, two bedrooms, bathroom, utility room, office, and kids play room.

Here's a few photos of the initial framing stages. Since these are interior walls and are not load bearing, I'm using a 24 inch on center framing technique. That is, the studs are placed 24" apart (measured at the center of each stud). The top and bottom plates (2x4s) are as long as possible. In most cases I used 12 ft long 2x4s and cut them as necessary. Before you go putting up your wood framing, be sure to have a plan and a permit! I would recommend you get yourself a good saw and good hammer for the framing.

Wood Framing

This next photo shows the framing complete and I've also finished up running the central vacuum tubing. I'm working on the electrical wiring, including low voltage. I'm using for the most part standard 14/3 copper wiring for the electrical, RG6 coax for the cable, and Cat 5e for the data/voice wiring. I can't stress enough if you do not have the knowledge and ability to do any part of your basement renovation, please consult a professional. The central vac was a pretty easy install. The coax/cat5e is pretty easy too. The electrical I would not attempt unless you have experience, a permit, and a good reference manual. I had all three so was able to complete it. The electrical inspector was quite impressed by the neatness of the wiring and the extra loop of wire at each box. Do it right the first time, that's my motto.

Framing up, working on central vac and electrical

Drywall Installation

Next up is the drywall. I hung all the drywall myself. I used the special ceiling drywall on the ceiling. It comes in 12 ft long sheets (they're 4 feet wide). I highly recommend you use a drywall lift to make this job easier. Borrow one or rent one, it will save you time. I prefer to put the drywall on the walls in a horizontal fashion. That is, the length runs from left to right. You can also put the drywall up in a vertical fashion. If you use the horizontal method, be sure to offset the joints on the top and bottom sheet. You should stagger the joints. I used regular 1/2" thick drywall on the walls. Other words for drywall are sheetrock, Winroc, dry wall, gypsum board.

Some tools I used for the installation was a drywall screw gun, a Rotozip tool for cutting out electrical boxes and doors/windows, a drywall lift, and a toe kicker. The order to install dry wall is to install it on the ceiling first, then the upper wall drywall, then the lower. Trim at the bottom as necessary, I had to cut off about 3" or so off the bottom of all bottom sheets of drywall. Once the drywall is up, you'll need to "mud and tape" the drywall which uses tape and drywall compound to smooth out all the seams. In my case I hired a friend to do this because he does that full-time. I knew he could get it done a lot faster than I could.

Drywall up, ready to be mud & taped

Next up once the drywall was smooth was priming and painting. I used a latex eggshell finish and rolled it on.

Painting done

Next up was to install the doors, flooring, and trim. You can see all three here. For the kids play room, I chose to install two pocket doors with French doors (glass in them). The trim is up except the spot at above the door.

Doors, flooring, and trim installed

Well clearly this article has not given you enough information by itself to help you finish your basement development project. Hopefully it has given you some tips and ideas on how to finish your basement and has helped you decide if this is something you can do yourself (DIY). Be sure to check out all the basement renovation articles on the site.