General Contractor or Basement Expert?

Sometimes the choice is clear when searching for someone to do work in your home: a plumber to fix the shower, an electrician to add a light switch, and so on. On the other hand, there are some jobs where it might seem that more than one type of contractor might be just as good as another. There are two directions you can go when selecting a contractor to finish your basement: finding a general contractor who's willing to do the work for you or locate a basement remodeling expert. When selecting between the two types of contractors, here are three things to consider:

1. Experience in Basement Finishing

Remodeled Basement

A basement has many unique challenges not present in the rest of the home. A general contractor who is accustomed to working in wide open spaces will have to deal with low ceilings, furnaces, water heaters, pipes, heating ducts, posts, water storage tanks, and a variety of other obstacles that commonly appear in the basement environment. An experienced basement remodeling contractor, however, has years of experience in creatively designing basements to look exactly the way you want - without a boxed-out look or ugly remodeling job. They'll also be familiar with local building codes, practices, and standards that will keep your basement up to proper codes with the best techniques in the industry.

A basement is going to look a little different than the rest of the home. It has fewer windows, more obstacles, and generally a lower ceiling than the rest of the home. While any contractor is going to want to make it look like it follows suit with the other levels, an experienced basement remodeling contractor will also know how to design the lower level with proper lighting and basement windows that take full advantage of available sunlight and space.

2. Proper Materials for a Basement Renovation


A basement provides an environment that requires different building materials than the rest of the home. Unfortunately, a general contractor will often install drywall for the walls and ceilings and carpet on the floor- just like they have for the rest of the home. This is a problem that Total Basement Finishing's basement contractors see by the dozens: basements with ruined, moldy drywall and sagging ceilings every day that have been installed by general contractors who just don't realize what happens to these materials in a basement in the long-term.

For example, it's common for a general contractor to install carpet on top of a wood sub floor in a basement area. Unfortunately, these materials take 3-4" of head room away from the homeowner's space. Additionally, wood planks are generally laid directly on the basement floor, where they collect moisture seeping from the ground through the basement floor. This moisture and humidity collects, causing the wood to rot, swell, buckle, grow mold, and smell. This damage will spreads to the carpet, and the finishing is eventually ruined. Other wood floor materials use wood tile with plastic bottoms in an attempt to deter this moisture. These tiles do not take a foundation leak or a plumbing leak into consideration, which stills collects moisture and ultimately be ruined just as easily. Drywall, even mold-resistant drywall (which has no lasting warranty against mold) will also grow mold and be easily damaged by moisture.

Basement contractors who have a long history in basement finishing are aware of these conditions and are able to prepare a lasting solution for the homeowner. They use well-insulated, completely inorganic materials with a long-lasting warranty that the homeowner will be able to count on. Their basement stays beautiful for decades and will not degrade and need replacement several times over the life of the home.

3. Reliability in General Contractors

General Contractor shaking hands

Simply put, general contractors do not make their living finishing basements. Any estimates they make on price, materials needed, and manpower are going to be rough and experts state that you should expect at least a 10% cost overrun on work done by general contractors.

Additionally, a general contractor will generally schedule their jobs tightly, and if they've underestimated the time needed, they may need to return at a later date to complete the work. The homeowner will be inconvenienced with a house full of displaced belongings as they wait for their basement remodeling to be completed.

Lastly, the Small Business Administration reports that 50% of contractors fail within the first year and 96% within the first five years. If you remodel the basement and find that you need to have the job serviced, repaired, or improved on, there's a very good chance that they won't be there for you. And a warranty will only as good as the company behind it.

Professional Basement Finishing Contractors

Finishing a basement is a big investment! With the wrong contractor designing the space, you can be stuck with an ugly, poorly finished space created by a contractor who may not be there for you when the materials begin to decompose in the basement.

Total Basement Finishing is a network of long-established basement finishers who finish basements every day and will still be in business when you need them. Their products come with a full written warranty, with their a 50 year warranty on their basement wall panels against mold and moisture - even if there's a flood! Because they specialize in basement finishing, you can count on solid pricing, professional installation, a reliable schedule for completed work, and a pristine reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Their products are durable, attractive, insulated, and made to last for decades to come. Call or contact us for a free basement finishing estimate today!

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