The best way to avoid problems in your basement finishing project is to follow these ten steps, and to cover all details in your contract.

  1. Planning Your ProjectIn order to minimize the chances that you will have a problem with your project or contractor, you should understand that planning is the first step in the process. Before you do anything else, ask the question:What do I want done? A silly question? Not at all. Carefully plan exactly what you want done; what you want it to look like when finished, and how much you have to spend. Thoughtful, carefully prepared plans will be helpful in getting accurate bids from contractors.You may wish to seek the advice of an architect or draftsperson, a contractor with CAD or equivalent software can do this for you as well as provide a bid, but do not expect him to give you the plans without reimbursement for his time and thousands invested in the software. Remember that, in general, if something you want is not shown on the plans, you won’t get it.When planning your project, be sure to consider energy efficiency. An energy-efficient home or building costs less to heat or cool, is quieter and more comfortable, and will sell faster and at a higher price.
  2. Paying For Your ProjectYour Home Is Your Biggest InvestmentWhen remodeling your home, you may wish to obtain financing for the project through a personal loan, a home-equity loan, a credit union, an insurance policy, a bank, or a savings and loan. It is important for you to investigate different sources of funding to compare the amount, interest rate, terms, and tax considerations.If your project is the result of damages covered by your insurance; check with your insurance company to determine the extent of coverage before signing a contract.When deciding among the various loan sources, you should ask about possible prepayment penalties. In some home-improvement loans, this penalty can be very high and should be a consideration.

Read part 2 “Bids”