Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frugal Flooring for the Basement

New Years day, 2011, we discovered that the foot of snow outside that had melted in 24 hours had worked its way into the finished part of our basement. It was not the way we'd hoped to start a new year, especially in our new home. But that was life. What followed was a six month journey to get it restored to the state we'd bought it, and for a frugal price.

First, we had to discover the source of water. Two cracks in the foundation, hidden behind the drywall. Those were fixed in mid-January; $700 in repairs. We opted to skip on the $4,000 sump-pump. Instead we addressed run-off issues and had all the down spouts adjusted and fixed. Cost, $200. Then we decided to wait, to see if any more leaks made themselves known. Why bother fixing the rest just for it to get flooded again.

The Spring thaw arrived, no leaks. Summer rains feel, some quite hard. No leaks. We decided we'd found the source, and it was fixed. Repairing the drywall was next. A Facebook post lead us to a quality contractor who patched the drywall for $200.

We were ready for flooring. The initial quotes stopped us in our tracks, $3,000 - $4,000! For a basement floor, a Wisconsin basement floor? We have 2 kids, 2 cats, a doorway from the backyard. We needed utilitarian, not home show prices. My frugal nature reared up, and was determined to get the price down.

Carpeting was determined to be the most economical approach, as opposed to tile, vinyl, or laminate. Should we flood again it has the greatest chance of being salvaged. Even with carpeting, the quotes were running well over the $1,500 we wanted to spend. Through time, prodding, and questioning, we got the job done, and under budget. Here's how:
  • labor -- we found a contractor through Menards. They have contractor contact sheets available in the flooring section; we could scan and find someone who did carpet, and see how much they charged. Wallie Zimmerman was our man; the biggest difference was that he charged $2.50 a step; Home Depot charged $8.50 a step. Total charge for laying the carpet, including removal of the old carpeting, $515;
  • materials -- Wallie was able to get padding through a wholesaler for $225. Menards had carpeting on sale, 54 cents a square foot. Total cost of 1,000 square feet was approximately $650.
It took 6 months, but for $1200 we have our finished basement back! We didn't rush, we waited, we questioned, we asked for deals, and we came in under budget. And now we have extra funds this month for house repairs. Blinds for the bay window are next.

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