Basement Remodeling for Chicago Split-Level

Answered by Brett ~ December 19, 2010 ~ Comments

Our split level frame home has a family room, bathroom, and double-car garage on the lower level. We'd like to bump the garage out into the driveway 10 feet and build a modest guest bedroom and closet across the back. We'd make a composite wood deck on top of the framed garage expansion. What's a rough budget?

Billy K. ~ Chicago, Illinois

Brett Kulina

Billy, it is difficult for me to give you a budget for your project because there are too many unknown variables to accurately estimate the overall cost. What I can offer you is a few tips on how to get a cost estimate from a contractor who works in your area. The first thing you need to do is check with your local building department and confirm that there are no set backs or other zoning issues that may effect your remodeling plans. Most building departments have this information posted online, and if you know the common and legal address of your home, then you should be able obtain this information without too much trouble.

Once you have an accurate idea of what you are permitted to add on to your home, then you can come up with a list of what you want to include in your remodel. This list should include finish details for the new bedroom, such as flooring, wall coverings, and window sizes and locations. I also think that it would be worth it in the long run to add a bathroom to your home's lower level, which would allow the new bedroom to serve as a "full service" guest suite.

After you have all the details of your remodel written down, you can contact some contractors who work in the Chicago area and start gathering cost estimates. Conventional wisdom suggests that you should get at least 3 bids, but don't be afraid to get more than that. Although your project sounds pretty strait forward, you will have to put some extra thought into the decking and the waterproof membrane that is going to cover the new garage. Chicago has some pretty harsh winter weather, and snow and rain may eventually find its way into your house if a proper slope and drain system is not incorporated into the flat roof. Although the bidding contractors may have some good ideas on how best to deal with this potential trouble spot, you may need to hire an architect to help detail this portion of the construction.

Once you have some bids in hand, then you can decide what stays, and what is deleted, from the final construction plans. Remember you construction plans are an integral part to any work contract that you sign with a contractor. Good luck with your project, and thanks for checking in with us at reliableremodeler.com!

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