LESLIE: Michael from Georgia is looking to remodel the basement. Tell us about your plans.
MICHAEL: Oh. Well, hey. First of all, I’ve got about an 1,800 square foot basement.
LESLIE: That’s bigger than most people’s houses.
TOM: That’s huge.
MICHAEL: It is. It’s a … what they did, when they did my basement, it’s actually the same size as my top level where the fireplace … of the top level. They lined it (ph) down where the fireplace would be down in the basement. And it’s really pretty. They gave me a lot of space; very high ceiling.
TOM: Well, that’s the key. You know, you’ve got a lot of space and you have very high ceilings so … you know, a lot of people don’t count on the space that the basement creates. But like you said, it’s twice … you know, it’s half the space your house is down there. So it makes sense to remodel it.
MICHAEL: Right. So what I want … how do I get started? By drawing out the plans of where I want … do I have to get like an architect to get the plans drawn out? Or do I go to like a little private person? How do I get a blueprint of what I want on paper first and then … I’m going to try to do it … contract it myself. I’ve got different people coming in looking at it. But one concern I’ve got, I have different people telling me to do the concrete side a different way about … so it won’t get any moisture. So I’m concerned about do you put sheetrock against the concrete or …?
LESLIE: No, you never put the sheetrock directly against the concrete. You have to fir out the concrete or frame out sort of a fake wall a few inches ... Tom, what do you say, like six inches out?
TOM: Yeah. I would never … I wouldn’t even fir against it.
LESLIE: Because you know what? We just filmed some episodes down in the south – in Florida – of While You Were Out. And their construction there is cement block with a firring strip and then drywall and there’s not enough place for air to circulate behind that drywall. And when you try to adhere anything or put up a shelve or put any sort of support bracket into that drywall …
LESLIE: It just crumbles. So you need to get that drywall away from that cement block as much as you can. Because that cement wicks in moisture from the ground and it will have nowhere to go except right into that back side of your drywall.
MICHAEL: Okay. I had one … I guess, one … I guess I’m using the right word – (inaudible). This tile or metal frame where you can put (inaudible) and lay the concrete … I mean lay the sheetrock against that. Have you ever heard of anything like that?
TOM: Yeah, you’re wrestling with …
LESLIE: (overlapping) Well, that’s just using metal studs.
TOM: You’re wrestling with questions … different contractors have different ways they work and some use steel studs, some use wood studs, some like to go against the concrete – which we think is a mistake – and some don’t. Earlier, you mentioned, Michael, that you’re trying to decide whether or not you should hire an architect.
LESLIE: I say yes.
TOM: I say yes. And in this case, an architect is going to do a great job. Not that you need one structurally, but they’re going to give you a lot of design help. They’re going to try to figure out what to do with that 1,800 square feet and then they’re going to spec out what, exactly, has to happen. And since you’re willing to hire contractors, what’ll happen is after you get the specifications from the architect, you simply go to those contractors, give them all the same set of plans …
LESLIE: And they’ll all be bidding on the same exact thing.
TOM: Yeah. Because otherwise, you’re going to be right where you are right now; trying to figure out who’s right. First of all, you have to buy into A – is the guy giving you the right advice; and B – what’s the price difference. Maybe one guy is pricing the construction one way …
TOM: … somebody else is pricing it differently. Becomes impossible for you to compare apples to apples.
LESLIE: Well, plus, if you meet with an architect, you already have an idea of how you want to use this basement space.
LESLIE: You can say, “I need this room for a family entertainment area. I want this area for storage.” They can, then, help you divide that space up; decide if you need to do any built-in storage or cabinetry. Or maybe you need to sort of divide off the room somewhere and put up a wall to make it a little bit more private. They’ll help you to figure out the best way to lay it out so you’ll get the most bang for your buck and really get good usage of the space.
MICHAEL: Right. Is that expensive?
TOM: I don’t think so. Not in connection with all of the work that you’re putting in. I would budget about five percent of the project for …
LESLIE: To the architect.
TOM: … for the architect.
MICHAEL: Okay. (inaudible)
MICHAEL: Alrighty. I thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Michael. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.