Cigar Room

We recently completed a very interesting basement remodeling project. We were asked to design and build a cigar smoking room in a portion of the basement. It involved some great features like a hidden bookcase as entry door and extensive ventilation system.
As a cigar smoker myself, in an area of the country where winter seems to drag on forever, I can see the benefit to having a dedicated room to pursue this hobby. A fine handmade cigar can take an hour or longer to smoke. It is really hard to appreciate a nice cigar while shivering in your garage or sitting in your car with the heater blasting.
Entry into the room is disguised as a hallway bookcase. A simple push and the bookcase reveals the entry into the room. The bookcase/door is from Murphy Door ( and is assembled on site. The room itself is pretty simple; 210 sq.ft., all electrical work brought up to code, fully insulated, and a TV on each end of the rectangular room.
The not-so-simple part of the project is the ventilation system. It is recommended that the air in a smoking room should be changed out at least every 2minutes. To accomplish this, a simple bathroom fan won’t do. We used a high powered greenhouse fan to remove the smoky air, but that is only half of the equation. We also needed another fan to replace the air we were removing to avoid a negative pressure in the room (which may affect the gas burning appliances in the basement, possibly creating a CO danger). This second fan also needed to heat the air being brought in, since most likely the fan will be run during cold weather. Both fans are turned on with the same switch and the heater in the intake fan is operated with a thermostat so it won’t kick on if it’s not needed.
This was a great project and lots of fun to build. It is one of the smallest basement finishing projects we have done, but it is the one I am most envious of. Cheers to Dan (the homeowner) for asking us to do this build for him.

Basement Egress

We have been getting a lot of calls this year about egress windows for basement remodels.  People are asking about pricing, different models/features and code requirements. All good questions when you are considering a finished basement or remodeling.

The most common question is “Do I need an egress window if I finish my basement”?  The answer of course, is that it depends.  Currently, the building code requires an egress from a basement if you are building a bedroom or a living space, i.e. apartment/suite (check the Ohio Revised Code for any updates).  Otherwise you don’t need to install an egress window just to finish or remodel your basement.  However, take our current basement project for example.  There is no bedroom on the plans, but we are installing an egress window as the homeowner thinks they may add one in the future.  In the mean time they will have out of town guests stay down there.

There are several different ways to provide an egress window for a basement.  The most common is to use a prefab molded insert to shape the well and a vinyl sliding window for exiting.  This is then covered with a clear cover to prevent rain and critters for getting in the well.  For all egress window instillations we dig to the footer to inspect the drain tile.  Everything is backfilled with stone and then dirt which is graded away from the well to aid draining.

Pricing is tough to pinpoint, but we can usually get an egress window installed for $5,500 within one of our basement remodeling projects.  Doing one as a stand alone project would cost less.  Some things may add more to the cost. e.g. damaged drain tile, moving the AC unit (just had to do that), upgraded materials, extra depth (standard is an 8′ basement ceiling height).


If you have questions I didn’t address here give us a call and I’d be happy to discuss.  Thanks.


Common Issues from Recent Basement Remodeling Projcts

Rough plumbing in the wrong place. Untangling years of electrical work. Providing proper combustible air to furnace and water tank

Each basement project is a unique and fun experience for us. However, there are a few problems/issues that we run into time and again. Of course we always work under a building permit from the local city/county, so any problems that are not to building code need to be addressed. Here are three issues that we commonly come across that need to be addressed during a basement remodeling project.

Many times newer homes are built with the plumbing “roughed-in” for a basement bathroom. Once in a while we come across a situation where the plumbing locations are in the wrong place due to the design that the homeowner wants or a mistake made made by the builder. Either way, we will need to open up the slab to correct the issue. Most people recoil at the thought of opening the basement slab to move plumbing. Its actually a pretty easy fix. Depending on how far we are moving the plumbing, it can usually be done in half a day for a couple hundred dollars.

When doing a basement remodel in an older home, the biggest issue is usually the old electrical work. It is critical that the existing electrical work that will be covered up is brought up to current building code. Usually this involves rerouting wiring that connects to the floors upstairs and/or eliminating circuits that are currently serving the basement. Sometimes, even in newer homes, we have to add an electrical subpanel to handle the new circuits being added for the basement remodel.

Last, but not least, is the issue of combustible air. When finishing a basement a homeowner usually wants to isolate the furnace and hot water tank in a walled off storage space. This is best for the overall design of the new finished basement, but if done incorrectly could lead to a serious carbon monoxide issue. These two appliances need a certain volume of air in order to feed the burners and a means of exhaust. If you wall off the furnace and hot water tank in too small of a room you will need to provide a means to access the outside air. Each situation is different but the solutions are usually pretty easy.

Interior Painting

My first two blog posts were on our basement remodeling projects so i wanted to give our painting work some attention too. The painting trades is where I got my start 25 years ago. Painting is the project that most homeowners are willing to tackle themselves. Some more successfully than others!

A good painting project is at lease 75% prep work. This is where most DIY painting projects fall short. Prep work takes time and can be tedious. I understand why most homeowners don’t have the time and patience to tackle it themselves. And what about the heights? A two story foyer with a staircase is no place for someone inexperienced in heights to break out a paint brush. A lot of people will call us to just paint the two story walls in the foyer and paint the others themselves. Fine by us!

All of our estimates are guaranteed. There will be NO additional charges over the estimated price (unless you ask for additional work or course). We quote 2 coats of premium paint, usually the Duration line from Sherwin WIlliams for walls and the Pro Classic line for trim.

For the remainder of 2016 we are offering a special for those two story foyers. We will paint the 3 tall walls of any foyer (200 sq.ft. or less) for $600. This includes filling picture holes if needed and 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Duration paint.

Basement Construction Methods

Our philosophy for building basements is to use the same methods of construction that are used in the upper floors of the house. We will stud out the walls with lumber, insulate the exterior foundation walls and close up the walls and ceiling with drywall. We want to match the existing style of doors, baseboards and casings as the upper floors. Our goal in finishing your basement, is to create a space that equals (or surpasses) the rest of the house. Basements are a great building project because they can be turned into anything; rec room, exercise room, theater, in-law suite, game room…anything.

Common questions:
Q: “Do you guys use permits?”
A: Yes. Always.

Q: “How long does a typical basement project take?”
A: A typical basement (say about 1000 sq.ft.) would take 4-6 weeks. Extra time could be required for specialty features; egress windows, waiting for stone work or custom built Amish pieces.

Q: “Where do you do most of your work?”
A: We are a small remodeling firm. We can only do 1 or 2 basements at a time. Most of our work is in western Cuyahoga county, Lorain and Medina counties. So far this year we have finished basements in Olmsted Twp., Brunswick Hills, Macedonia and Westlake.

Let me know if you think of other questions you would like to ask. Just use this website to send a message or email me directly at

Basement Remodeling Projects

basement_bar_homeI thought I’d take a minute to explain how a basement finishing project goes when working with us. I’ll focus on a project for a new house (built within the last 20 years). Older homes can have a variety of issues involving waterproofing, code violations or multiple homeowner DIY projects to sort through. While we are experienced in dealing with those issues, its a bigger topic that I will have to tackle in a future blog.

For our basement finishing projects I act as the point man for your
project. I will work with you to design a layout that meets your needs and come up with a detailed estimate. Once the project is underway I act as the general contractor and lead carpenter. We handle all of the carpentry and finish work ourselves. As the general contractor I will arrange and organize our trusted subcontractors; electrician, plumber and drywall. We use the same subcontractors on every project. We work as a team. I will also arrange and handle all of the permits and inspections. We never do a basement remodeling project without permits.

Our typical basement finishing project takes about 5-7 weeks (depending on complexity and size). You can expect the cost to fall between $25-$35 per sq.ft. Factors that contribute to higher costs are custom cabinetry, stone countertops and underground plumbing work. Evan at $35/sq.ft., that is a bargain compared to the cost of an addition or new build (usually around $110/sq.ft. or more). Estimates and questions are always free. Just give us a call.