Remodeling a Basement: Expert Advice from Start to Finish (Taunton's Build Like a Pro)

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by: Roger German

Topics include: drywall router, collated nails, strike jamb, wall ledger, basement remodels, drain kit, basement remodeling, hinge jamb, king studs, topping compound, jamb extensions, stud gun, egress windows, joist ledger, mixer valve, coped joints, straight stud, excess mud, drywall mud, base shoe, drywall compound, finish nailing, walkout basement, existing basement, class basement

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Book Description -- Finishing a basement is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to increase living space in a home. This book helps readers visualize the vast possibilities that exist for this challenging space, and go about the remodeling process in an organized and efficient way. Roger German, a basement remodeling pro, covers every step, from the physically demanding "dirty work" to the rewarding finishing touches. He shows how to deal with a basement's special challenges, such as moisture problems and framing against concrete floors and walls, and gives instructions on pumping water up and out from basement baths and laundry rooms.

Excellent for novices, but bad insulation advice -- First, let me say that I think Mr German is an excellent teacher, especially for idiot novices like myself. I've had difficulty with other DIY books assuming a certain vocabulary. German provides an excellent intro to DIY in framing, carpentry, plumbing, electrical etc. I now feel I can start reading more advanced DIY books on each of these topics. My criticism, and my reason for 4 stars, is that his story on insulation flies in the face of recent thinking about the dangers of mold in basement insulation. I suggest reading "Insulate and Weatherize" by Bruce Harley, or "Renovating Old Houses" by George Nash, or look at the web site, for more information. I urge Mr German to update his book with a better discussion of insulation, mold and vapor barriers, the most mind-bending aspect of home improvement that I have been able to find. The book also talks about water-proofing on page 46-47. I haven't seen this approach elsewhere, and I'm disappointed not to see discussion of external drain mats and so on. Every book says you have to keep plants away from the house. Well I and I suspect others can't do that and stay married, so I'll probably end up building a watertight flower box above a drain mat. This might be a good project to add to a second edition of the book.

Incredibly helpful, Easy to follow, Comprehensive treatment -- I've been slowly remodeling and fixing up all aspects of our house for the last ten years, and when my wife recently wanted to remodel our basement I did a lot of research into various books on the subject. This is by far the best of the bunch, and arguably the best home-owners how-to book I've ever come across. It's a shame the author doesn't have an entire line covering all aspects of home remodeling.
The treatment of the subject and necessary details is in-depth, but broken down and presented in such a way that anyone with a modicum of common sense can understand and apply it to their own basement. I've found that many of the tricks of the trade he gives are also applicable to projects spanning other parts of the house, making this a great book for anyone interested in remodeling any part of their home. I would have liked to see an entire chapter on sound proofing your basement (I have three hellions who keep us up until late hours of the night with their shenanigans downstairs), but this is a very minor, and personal, gripe. The plethora of pictures and diagrams are great, as are the "Pro Tips", which cover a lot of things missed by similar books on the subject. My basement turned out beautifully, it's too bad I can't post pictures here. Good luck with your own projects.


Remodeling a Basement -- Roger German --
From start to finish Finishing a basement is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to increase living space in a home. Remodeling A Basement will help you visualize an inspiring range of basement remodeling possibilities, and go about the remodeling process in an organized and efficient way. You'll find all phases are covered, from the physically demanding "dirty work" to rewarding finishing touches. Professional contractor Roger German covers basic construction techniques and the special problems associated with basement building, such as moisture, framing against concrete, and plumbing for bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Provides in-depth, pro-level advice, including tips, trade secrets, and what to do when something goes wrong Gives photos of finished projects help you visualize the possibilities in a basement remodel Shows how to deal with common challenges in basement building: moisture, framing on concrete, evacuating water, working around heating and plumbing fixtures. Covers a variety of spaces: family rooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, workshops and hobby rooms

From start to finish -- This book is designed to help you remodel your basement. I strongly urge you to read (or at least skim) all of it before you pound a nail. Doing so will help you make informed decisions about the nature and scope of your project. You'll be able to determine how much you want to tackle yourself, when it makes sense to hire a professional, and how much the project will cost, both financially and emotionally.
In the chapters that follow, I'll take you step-by-step through the entire process of remodeling a basement, from evaluating the basement you've got now to polishing off the last detail of the one you've created. You'll learn about designing and planning; how to frame walls and run electrical wire and water pipe; how to hang, tape, and finish drywall, install doors, cabinets, and trim; how to lay carpet and ceramic tile; and much more.
As you design, remember that it's your home, your space. Be creative. As you tackle the actual building, have fun. Of course, there will be times when the work won't be fun. That's when you have to keep the long view in mind. Persevere. Or, if you're truly stumped, do what the professionals do: Hire a professional to help.
I am convinced that you can do the job (most of it, anyway) yourself. These are not just hopeful words of encouragement. I know from experience. For 10 years I have taught a basement-remodeling adult-education class at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, where I'm a remodeling contractor. The class meets for 18 weeks, one night a week for three hours. I like the hands-on approach, so I pick one of the student basements and we remodel it as a class. We don't complete the project in our 54 hours of class time, but we get a lot of it done.

When we start, some students hardly know which is the business end of a hammer. Nevertheless, the results are remarkable. Whether it's the class basement or students' individual projects, I'm always impressed by the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that I've seen in the finished basements.
Almost all of the photos of the remodeling processes shown in this book were taken during the course of a class remodeling project. The charts, plans, and materials lists included in the book are also taken from this project. I hope this continuity will give you a sense of what a real project is like as you work your way through the chapters. The two most common questions I hear in class are "Can I save money doing the work myself?" and "How long will it take?"
Yes, you can save money doing it yourself. How much? About half of what a pro would charge. For basement remodels I've done, the overall costs are about half for material and half for labor. Of course, if you throw in a $6,000 whirlpool tub, the percentages change. But, in general, doing the work yourself will save about half the cost.
When I'm asked, "How long it will take?" my answer is always, "Longer than you think it will." I'm not being coy. As a professional, I've worked for months on a single basement project. That's 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, and with professional subcontractors who have the tools, time, and experience to do the work as efficiently as possible. Just making a basement rec room and a half-bath will take a professional a month if everything goes right, which is rare in any kind of remodeling project.
I bring this up not to discourage, but to encourage you. So it takes you six months or a year. The thing is to start. And, if you keep chipping away at it, you'll eventually have the basement of your dreams, and the satisfaction of having done it (or most of it) yourself.

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