Basements used to be only for storage and laundry, but not anymore. Homeowners are transforming basements into all kinds of spaces such as guest quarters, home offices, rentable garden apartments, man caves, cinemas or other high-end hang-out spaces. These spaces are very popular and add a lot to the appeal of your home.
According to the latest nationwide research reports on home remodeling the best returns on investments come from basement remodeling projects. A revamped basement adds a lot to your home’s resale value.
There are some things to consider before you jump into a basement revamping project and it is important to do your homework. So, before you knock down a basement wall or order some accessories online, here is a list of six questions to answer before you do anything else.
1. What Is The Value of Your Home?
Not every homeowner has money put aside for a home remodeling project. There are often more urgent matters to spend your money on and you also need to be careful not to over-improve your home. Over-improvement is a term that refers to the situation where you have invested more money in home improvements that you can recoup from selling your house. In other words, you have spent more money on improving your house than it is worth in the eyes of buyers.
The amount of work to be done to your basement will determine the cost of your basement remodel. As a start you need to review your finances to determine how much you can afford to sensibly spend.
The exceptions: If money is not really a concern and the resale value of your home does not factor, feel free to spend your money as you see fit. If you are living in your forever home it might also make sense to spend money to make your house as comfortable as you and your family want it.
Smart move: To appeal to a broader group of potential buyers focusing on neutral changes would be less of a risk than specialized and customized items. Selecting affordable and long-lasting options that will stay in fashion for a long time like vinyl plank flooring and well-sealed granite countertops.
2. What Is The Condition Of Your Current Structure?
Often you can see signs of structural decay due to time from inside and outside your basement. Even alterations and builds that have been done recently can experience structural issues that you have to deal with.
Your basement is the foundation of your house and not just another living space waiting to be created. It is therefore important to inspect every part of your basement before you start a remodeling project. There are things to look out for such as cracks in the walls and floors, puddling water and slow leaks, sagging ceilings and strange looking plumbing or electrical issues.
In general issues can be repaired but you will need a professional contractor to inspect minor issues and perhaps a structural engineer to find a safe, long-term, cost-effective solution for more severe structural issues.
Upgrade now: if your house is older or your home has been built onto a lot after it was built it is a good idea to look into upgrading your current systems. You might need to look into repairing and replacing the plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC ducts or other important systems. These systems would need to be maintained in the next five years anyway.
Smart move: It is always a good idea to select fixtures that can take some damage, as during the remodeling project and thereafter things can go wrong.
3. What Kind of Water Are You Dealing With?
Moisture is always an issue to deal with when you work with basements as they are below ground level. Moisture levels can be minimal and cause mildew or more severe and result in inch-deep puddles. Water can also seep in between the concrete blocks that basements are normally made from. Other potential areas for concern could be where there is a crack in your wall or a weak seal around an exterior window or door.
You will need to do some pre-modeling work especially if you notice that your basement feels humid, sticky, or you can smell mold or mildew. If you had water issues in the past or you see new wetness or water stains.
Smart move: A lot of times leaks are caused by runoff water not being directed away from toward your home’s foundation or rainwater. The rainwater pools around your house and has nowhere to go but into your foundations and basement. If this is the case it is time to redesign the drainage system on the outside of your house.
4. How Much Space Do You Have?
The height of your ceiling is a major determiner of what you can do with your ceiling. The International Residential Code stipulates that the ceilings in basements must be a minimum of seven feet tall. There might also be additional height requirements so it is important to check your local building codes. Making your ceiling height higher is possible and there are a few ways to achieve it but it will add a lot of cost to your project.
You might be able to:
- Reroute ducting that could impede your intended living space
- Raise or replace existing structural beams
- Dig out the existing floor and lower it
If the ceilings in your home are low but still manageable you can take a few steps to make it look higher.
Use bright colors. Nothing makes a drab room look bright and airy than a fresh coat of white paint on the walls. You can also use different types of bright lighting to eliminate shadows. A small basement might not have a lot of square footage but you can make it seem bigger by keeping your basement floor plan as open as you can and use multi-purpose furniture items. A minimalistic look will make the room look larger. If you also add reflective surfaces, like mirrored side tables and framed pictures on the walls it will create an exciting space for all.
Smart move: Even as little as one or two inches can make a seemingly big difference. You could consider using vinyl sheet flooring during your basement remodel for a basement flooring option that does not raise your floor level. This flooring is a durable option for sub-grade areas that require more than the average normal flooring options.
5. How Will The Extra Space Really Be Used?
There are unlimited options of what you can do with the space in your basement. There is however also a difference between what you would like to do and what will look nice, and what is the most practical use of the space.
Be honest with yourself about what you and your family will and will not actually do. A gym sounds like a great idea but consider opting for a games room if you know that it will probably be used more. This will ensure that you get optimal use out of your brand-new basement.
Designing and kitting your basement for one narrowly defined purpose will most likely not optimize the use of your space so be flexible in your approach. Think carefully and assess just how often you will use your intended use. For example, even if you use the planned in-home movie theater every weekend it might be worth your while to exchange the row of black recliners and a wall-sized projection screen for a more standard but more often used option. Some comfy chairs, a big-screen TV and blackout shades can be used every night as well as for extra guests, game nights, and a double-feature event.
Smart move: You might also want to think about the future as a TV binging and online games room might make a lot of sense now, but it might not be so practical once the kids move out.
It is wise to invest in fixtures that will grow with you if you want to create a multi-purpose basement that will change as and when you need it to. It is important to remember the flooring as you need floors that are beautiful to look at, impress visitors, endure the activities of children, absorb the impact of your at-home gym and handle the dust from your whittling hobby, while still looking like it is brand new.