First, I have to mention that I have never done any house improvement and I am close to the 50s of my age

I bought a house (my first ever) and it has an unfinished basement.

I want to finish it by myself, no one to help, just by myself.

I am not in a rush, so I watched a few YouTube videos.

For the plumbing and electricity, I am going to use a professional.

Now where to start?

Shall I start with plumbing or electricity or can I start putting the frames for the rooms (by myself)?

Maybe there is some other thing I should do first?

Some photos


  • 13
    get a radon test if you're going to be spending time down there. What kind of plumbing do you need? Electricity is a good start as it will make it easier to see and run tools.
    – dandavis
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 4:49
  • 1
    There are a lot of variables here. So start with some pictures showing the existing basement - unfinished can vary quite a bit. Total dimensions? How do you want to divide it up? What existing plumbing (e.g., water heater? washing machine?)? What new plumbing (full bath, half bath, etc.)? Is the main breaker panel in the basement? Any indication of prior water damage? Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 5:06
  • 2
    "I have never done any house improvement" I hope you're prepared to spend several years learning everything the hard way, because that's how long this will take. There are ten thousand steps to completing this project and you're stuck on the first one. Do you at least have any project management experience? You're effectively proposing to be your own GC, which is usually a role taken on by someone who has already amassed considerable experience in all the trades required to complete a project of this scale. It's like trying to conduct an orchestra when you've never played an instrument.
    – J...
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 17:20
  • 2
    If you allow a lot of time, and budget for mistakes, you can learn to do almost anything. But some things will cost you so much time, and your mistakes will cost you so much money, that you don't want to use your house as a training facility. And all of them put together will take you years to learn and get right. If you had extensive experience in every trade this could take you a year of weekends. Without it, this will take you many years and some of your mistakes will be very costly. Random example: Connecting a basement toilet to a sewer.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 17:40
  • 2
    Do not listen to those saying "don't do it". Do listen to those saying "do not underestimate the work involved" (and once you've got a good estimate, you can decide whether you do want to do it). Commented May 2, 2022 at 8:50

4 Answers 4


Construction projects of any size always follow a fairly standard recipe:

  1. Planning

    • Taking measurements of the space and making a scale drawing of everything to be done: new walls, location of lighting, electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures in bathrooms, HVAC etc.
    • Costing of the project. It's a good idea to get a sense of the cost of the project. Once you have your scale drawings, you can estimate how many board-feet of dimensional lumber you'll need, and your trades (plumbing and electrical) can use the plan to determine labour and materials costs.
    • If needed, submitting the drawings to a local municipality to obtain building permits. Your tradespeople (plumbers, electricians) will need to be consulted to make sure that your plans are code-correct. You usually also need to tell the municipality who your tradespeople will be. However every jurisdiction is different and some jurisdictions won't require any permitting for the work you'll be doing. Your trades may still require their own permits, but those don't have much to do with the local government.
  2. Construction

    • Framing, including subfloor (if insulating subfloor, happens before trades).
    • In your case, for a basement where there's going to be bathrooms, you probably will do some slab work prior to framing.
    • Trades rough-ins, so that's plumbing, HVAC, electrical running their wires and pipes and ducts in the wall framing, but not installing fixtures or outlets yet.
    • Trades inspections, if needed. Also framing inspection, if needed.
    • Insulating, if you're going to be insulating between rooms or insulating the ceiling.
    • For bathrooms, now is the time to install things like tubs and fibreglass showers.
    • Drywall - hanging the board then taping/mudding. I'm including things like bathroom blue-board / cement board here.
    • Finish walls, paint, tiles, etc
    • Finish flooring, tiles, hardwood, vinyl, etc
    • Finish plumbing -- installation of toilets, vanities, sinks, other fixtures
    • Finish electrical -- installation of outlet receptacles, light switches, can light trims, etc
    • Final finishes, like baseboard trims, built-in closet shelves, window coverings, etc.
    • Finish inspections for all trades if needed. If you got a permit from your local municipality, they will do an inspection and provide a certificate of completion.

This is how these projects all tend to happen. I'm playing a bit loose with the details, but this is the general flow.

  • 1
    Problem is, if you do all that planning you'll never get any real work done!
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 0:04
  • 2
    @HotLicks you’re not wrong — but even a little bit of planning goes a LONG way. Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 0:07
  • 4
    @HotLicks - Sure, but if the first thing he does is build a bar, he can plan in style
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 9:11
  • It might be worth the OP investigating whether his local further education college (or local equivalent), runs courses in DIY/construction. Commented May 2, 2022 at 8:51

Where to start first in finishing my basement

Draw out your plans. No, really:

  • Get a few sheets of printer paper and a pen/pencil
  • Draw your basement in its current layout
    • Don't even bother measuring, just draw the basic shape
    • Make sure to include things like the existing furnace and water heater since those are difficult to move
  • Now add an egress window, walls, doors, washer/dryer, electric fireplace, new TV, couch placement, toilet, etc

Once you're satisfied with the planned layout then you can pull permits with your local ordinance, get utilities routed to their general destination, and construction can begin!

Pro-tip: before insulation/drywall is installed make sure to take pictures of EVERYTHING so that inevitable future upgrades will be less of a headache.


I have to mention that I have never done any house improvement


I want to finish it by myself, no one to help. all by myself.


for the plumbing and electricity, I am going to get someone to do these


plan to have 2 bathrooms and laundry room too

Tells me that you are in for a very, very long project. Ambition is not a bad thing but I just hope you're not coming off of an HGTV house reno montage thinking you'll be done in 6-8 weeks.

You should budget for 2-4 years of your life, $5k-$10k in personal tools, and $10k-$20k in subcontracting costs.


The first thing would be a good plan of what you want to do and where it will all go- room layout, etc. You probably are already going on this one.

The next step would to get your plumber and electrician (also heating, A/C, etc) people there to check feasibility of your ideas. This should include their assessment and any ideas they may have to make the project simpler and/ or more workable (and cost less).

Then you should build out your walls and do any framing projects that need doing.

Next you get the plumber, HVAC, electrician, and drywall guys going- usually in that order.

Some finish carpentry (flooring, doors, trim, cabinets, etc.) and some more painting and pretty soon you are in there enjoying your job well done.

PS- I purposely did not mention the whole permitting process with your municipality- this is another question alltogether.


In no particular order:

Talk to people locally who are in building-related trades. perhaps family, neighbours, etc. Being there in person will make it easier to discuss.

Figure out what you want at the end of the day - it looks like a nice workshop space right now. If you want rooms for living in then that needs more work.

Tasks that have to be done inside a wall should be done before the walls are insulated and lined. That means power, water, sewer, lighting, ventilation, networking, any cabling at all should be done before the drywall is started.

Things fall downward - so do the ceiling before the walls, before the carpet. If you work upward then there's a lot more dropcloths and protection needed.

And never ignore the legal requirements in your area. Example, if you change a load-bearing wall, there's an excellent chance it will come back to bite you later on the form of permits and "unauthorised structural changes" at sale time.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.