(303) 359 4268 3R Services
Interviews with Jim Cressman
Remodeling and Pop Top Information. (Basement Finishing Interview Below)
Basement Finishing Interview About Costs and Process
Transcript of Interview:
Mike Bayes: Hey, Jim. How are you? I’m with Jim Cressman who is the owner of 3R Services in Denver, Colorado. Jim, welcome to the show.
Jim Cressman: Thank you, sir.
Mike Bayes: Obviously, Jim, what we want to talk about today is a little bit about basement finishing and how that works for fellows. How long have you guys
been doing basement finishing?
Jim Cressman: Oh, since 2000.
Mike Bayes: 2000?
Jim Cressman: So about 15 years.
Mike Bayes: That’s a bunch. How many have you done do you think in that time?
Jim Cressman: Oh gosh. Probably at least 60-70.
Mike Bayes: What do you think is the number one concern for people doing their basements? What is it they should think about?
Jim Cressman: What they should think about is use of a finite space, because there are options but they’re limited by the space that you have. That’s kind of
the fun of doing a layout in the basement. What do you want it for, and how can we fit it in this finite space to the best advantage for your future enjoyment.
Mike Bayes: That’s a good point. Why do people finish their basement? Generally what do they use that space for?
Jim Cressman: Well, they usually use it for a spare bedroom, a bathroom, and a living recreation area. They usually have another lounge down there. It’s
important to most people. They also use it either for an expanding family for creating a bedroom and a bath or for guests. That’s our experience.
Mike Bayes: You provide the design for that or do they do it? Do they hire an architect, how is it?
Jim Cressman: There are some people that do it, but I think that they’re spending money needlessly because we have the capabilities of drawing a floor plan
and then altering it. Our usual procedure is to go and visit folks, find out what they want, measure their space, and then propose a floor plan and then they’ll
provide feedback as to what they actually want, and then we go from there and proceed to an estimate. It’s very typical along the way, especially when the
walls get framed, for the customers to be actually able to visualize, and they may add built ins, they may add a closet, but at that points it’s important for the
contractor, at least we’ve found, that way to remain flexible to what they essentially discover when the physical actually takes place.
Mike Bayes: Okay. That’s a very good topic. Tell me about the process and the expectations for somebody who calls you or anybody for a basement
finishing project. What are the steps and how long do those take?
Jim Cressman: Well, normally we visit. Like I said we visit, we talk to the people. A lot of times they’ll have an idea but they don’t understand, say, what
structural posts or HVAC, piping or any of that sort of thing provides inferences, so we’re experienced enough to be able to help them and design around it
to best advantage. At any rate we go home with hand drawn measurements, we go back to the office that is, with hand drawn measurements and then we put
it on a computer and that provides a basis for further discussion with the customer. We normally go back and forth once and then provide a budgetary
estimate and then if they decide they’re 97% or so sure that they’re going to go with us, then we bring a subcontractor, most often the electrical and
sometimes the plumbing subcontractors over just to take as much uncertainty out of the costing estimate that we can, and talk about specifics like where the
light switches need to be located, what kind, and that sort of thing.
Mike Bayes: Okay. So basically there’s an initial appointment and during that initial appointment you’re going to measure and get their ideas. You’re going to
go away, you’re going to put together their design, and you’re going to invite the subcontractors in if necessary. How long until they have a bid?
Jim Cressman: Usually two. We try to get it done within a week an a half. It’s usually about a week and a half to two weeks before they actually get the figures
Mike Bayes: Do you go back and present that to them or do you send it?
Jim Cressman: Yes, I do.
Mike Bayes: Okay. So you’ll set up a second appointment.
Jim Cressman: Yes, we do.
Mike Bayes: To go out and see these guys. Okay, very good.
Jim Cressman: Right. Then the third appointment, like I said if we’re further down the line I like to bring the subcontractors that I work with in at that point
because it’s most practical. We’re both pretty committed to the job, the homeowner and us, and we use the subcontractor’s time wisely that way and help
them keep down prices.
Mike Bayes: Okay. Budget's always concern. Speaking of that, so you’re really looking at a two to three week window to get a final proposal with final costs
with the subcontractors and everything included in it, correct?
Jim Cressman: Correct.
Mike Bayes: What can the customer do to make your job easier during that process?
Jim Cressman: I would say just be responsive in reviewing the proposed floor plan, and then be as specific as possible about what they want. Do they want a
laundry sink in by their washer and dryer, do they want a full bath, do they want a half bath, this is usually defined at the beginning, but just being specific
that way helps and being quickly responsive.
Mike Bayes: Okay. Very good. How much does it cost? That’s what everybody wants to know. What’s a basement finish going to cost somebody? You know,
typical. I don’t know what typical is, Jim, but a thousand square feet bedroom, bathroom, nice open space and wet bar. What’s that typically cost in Denver?
Jim Cressman: Well, without the wet bar it usually costs in the mid $30 per square feet. I’d say between $35 and $42. The critical part about it is how much
are you fitting into that finite space, so if you want three bedrooms and a living space, obviously there’s more work to be done that one bedroom and large
living space, so it really does vary. Cost per square foot really does vary with your layout and what you want in that finite space.
Mike Bayes: Well, how much does the homeowner control that price as far as the carpet they select and the paint and fixtures? Do they control a bunch of
that price or just some of it?
Jim Cressman: They do. What we do when we estimate is put mid-price fixtures in, mid-price lighting, mid-price plumbing fixtures, mid-price cabinetry, and
mid-priced flooring, mid-priced tile. That’s to give them an idea of the likely total cost, because by that point we have a firm grip on the necessary costs, the
nuts and bolts of it. We have two totals on our estimates. One is basically the basic construction costs, the other is the likely total cost if you went with mid-
price discretionary fixtures and flooring. We always give the customers the opportunity to, if they find a carpet sale that includes installation and it’s better
than what we can offer than we say, go ahead you’re welcome to do that. They do provide their own tile, but if they wanted to upgrade in quality or go more
budget than that would be up to them too.
Mike Bayes: Okay. So once this is all done how long is it going to take to build my thousand square foot basement in Denver?
Jim Cressman: For us we put a premium on quality and not time, and I would say probably between 8 and 12 weeks depending on the complexity of the
layout and a lot of factors that we have semi-control over like subcontractor availability. For us it’s 8 to 12 weeks, no getting around it.
Mike Bayes: Okay. That sounds pretty typical. You do the permits, correct?
Jim Cressman: We do. We take care of everything. Actually, we think it’s very important to permit it and to have initial review of our work by someone who
knows how to enforce codes. It’s important to us as well as the homeowner.
Mike Bayes: And I’m sorry, how many basements? You’ve done 70, 80, 100?
Jim Cressman: I’ve done 70 or 80 over the last 15 years.
Mike Bayes: Okay. Very good. Do you ever have any water problems or leakage, warranty issues with basements or are they pretty good?
Jim Cressman: The older houses can sometimes have those kind of problems. The newer houses usually have it taken care of again through code
enforcement when they’re constructed, but we’ve found that the key to water problems in most basements is getting drainage from the roof away from the
house. We can recognize that very quickly when we go in and have an initial look at the house and the property.
Mike Bayes: That’s great. So you’ll take a look at the exterior, make sure the drainage is okay and that you’re probably not going to see any water problems.
Jim Cressman: And if we do, then we will go ahead and recommend ways to fix it like diverting the water, or if there is a ground water problem. Any leak that
you fix from a foundation you want to fix from the outside and not the inside because you don’t want the water infiltrating into the concrete or the cracks in the
Mike Bayes: Makes perfect sense. Jim, what’s your background? You’ve been a contractor your whole life, or how’d you get in?
Jim Cressman: I’ve been a retail owner, I’ve been a carpenter, I’ve been a gold miner, and I’ve been an industrial constructor.
Mike Bayes: Gold miner! You’re a musician aren’t you?
Jim Cressman: And a musician, yes.
Mike Bayes: Are you still gigging?
Jim Cressman: I’m still gigging.
Mike Bayes: All right.
Jim Cressman: Come out this weekend to the Avalon Ballroom in Boulder, Colorado for the big Mardi Gras fest Saturday night. It’s going to be 200-300
people. They’re going to be dressed up to the nine celebrating Mardi Gras. I’m backing up a couple of really good Louisiana zydeco musicians.
Mike Bayes: That’s great. I don’t know if any people will ever see this in time to do it, but I think that’s great. Listen, Jim, I want to thank you for joining us
today. We’ll be putting this on Jim’s website at 3RServicesdDenver.com as well as the 247homeshow.com and probably promote it a little bit over Facebook,
but Jim tell them how to get ahold of you. Obviously your website again is 3RservicesDenver.com.
Jim Cressman: Yes. There’s also an e-mail there on the website. There’s a what do you call it, user form to fill out so we can contact you if you inquire about
an estimate. You can also call 303-359-4268, and you can also mail to email@example.com.
Mike Bayes: Okay, good. Well, Jim, good luck with the gig. You’re clearly a very high quality contractor, BBB, A+ and all that kind of stuff, so we appreciate
you joining us today and I will talk to you all soon, and Jim, I’ll talk to you soon as well. Thanks for joining us.
Jim Cressman: Thank you, Mike.