Now, time to break it down...

The MOMENT OF TRUTH: how much did this basement room cost me? (And by "me", I really mean "my reluctant husband")

Total Cost of Project:

Window Installation- $1597.66
Window well and drain-  $2529.81
Permits- $130.84
Flooring- $284.40
Drywall- $352
Masonry sealant- $120
Fireplace- $129
Insulation- $80
Electrical- $40
All that other shit like lumber, window sill, drywall mud, tape, drywall corner beads, paint, rollers, screws, more screws, fuck-we-bought-the-wrong-screws-so-now-we-need-different-screws, etc- $686 (nope, not itemizing it all out, it's bad enough I had to pore through receipts and itemize for the IRS, you guys just get a total)

Total: $5949.71

Now for the fun part, where, after itemizing the shit out of my deductions this year, I received a tax credit for my "energy efficient upgrades" (insulation and heat in the basement), to the tune of $29 (hey, that's better than nothing! That's like, two-and-a-half medium pizzas), and a tax deduction of $1,284.46 (that's literally a thousand pizzas, dude).

That's right, I got a tax return this year. Somehow. (Don't ask me how, I don't understand the tax code. Also, CPAs are worth every damn cent they charge)

If I had taken the standard deduction, our tax return would have been painfully smaller, but the basement renovation (along with mortgage interest deduction which we didn't take last year, since we had only paid one month of it before the end of the year... along with other deductions I won't get into because blah blah blah boring) pushed us over the standard deduction amount enough to give us a much larger return than we otherwise would have received. If we hadn't finished the basement, we would have received $1201 less dollars. Oh, sorry, forgot that energy efficient credit! I mean, $1230. 

So, even though I realize I'm making every CPA in the country groan, I'm going to go ahead and treat that like we just got a glorious mail-in rebate on our basement, and that the true cost of our renovation is actually $4719.71, because ultimately, that project paid us out, literally, $1230 that we otherwise would not have received, for reasons I don't really understand, so please don't ask me for tax advice. I am not a professional, nor do I play one on TV.

Total Time to Complete Project: 13 months. A very long, stressful, impecunious 13 months. The kind of 13 months where you find yourself arguing violently with your husband over stupid ass shit like vinyl flooring options. Like, where you're so seriously pissed off over THIRTY DOLLARS for paint that you're ready to just scrap the whole project. Where you regret ever starting this thing in the first place.The kind of 13 months that ages you. FEELING 13 MONTHS CLOSER TO DEATH.

Don't do it, people. Our basement was SMALL. Not even 400 square feet. If it were a full-sized basement, my husband and I would absolutely hate each other by the end of it and be divorced. This project was bigger than the both of us, and even with my woodworking licensed electrician father-in-law at my beck-and-call, it cost us so much more than just money. It took a toll on my relationship with my husband. No one should ever get balls-kicking angry over a gallon of paint and blaming each other over whose fault it is (because yes, paint has a "fault" and blame MUST BE PLACED).

Also, I'm pretty sure that damn basement window and well are the next 10 years of my Christmas, birthday, and anniversary presents. And if I ever ask for frivolous spending money, even if it's for my once-yearly-seasonal-latte-splurge, guess what gets thrown in my face: the window. Do you REALLY want something like a necessary (but expensive) safety feature thrown in your face for a decade? I can't even buy new socks without feeling like some entitled housewife bon-bon eating bitch. I am constantly reminded that the window blew over budget. Forever. In fact, when my husband is dead, his ghost will just be chillin' down there, muttering about how expensive that damn window was.

I 1000% advise against ever DIY-ing a major renovation project, or even a seemingly minor one like this basement bedroom. Don't do it. Not unless stabbing your significant other in the face with a screwdriver is what gets you off. Hooray for the tax deduction, but fuck no. I am not riding this merry-go-around twice.

I will never take on a large project like this one ever again. I'm sure there are some people who find it fulfilling, but I am not one of them (I really thought I *would* be), and I would rather NOT hate my husband at the end of day over something as fucking stupid as whether or not we should put in subflooring in the mudroom (yes, that was a real argument, that lasted a WEEK. A week of us being pissed off at each other. Over OSB. $19 worth of OSB. Let that marinate for a while).

Anyway, I'm really glad my taxes are done, filed, and I can finally put all the receipts in a box until the IRS decides to do something douchey like audit me, and then I can be all, "In yo' FACE, bitches! I gotz receipts for everything evah! Check out my awesome basement and SUCK IT!"

But still... don't do it. Just say no to major DIY home renovations. Friends don't let friends DIY large projects.


02/27/2014 6:08pm

I still think you guys did an awesome job and it looks great! Maybe in a year or two you and your husband will actually enjoy it? Kind of like how the pain of childbirth does not keep us from having more than one?


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