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Things to Consider When Remodeling Your Basement

Are you finally planning to build your dream basement? Here are important things to consider when remodeling your basement space.

An unfinished basement may serve as a storage space, but since it remains vulnerable to moisture, it can serve as a breeding ground for mold. When unaddressed, mold can quickly grow in all parts of your unfinished basement that may not necessarily be visible.


Airborne mold spores often travel through the air and can rise up to the main floors of your home, lowering the indoor air quality you and your family breathe in. Exposure to mold or mold spores can lead to various respiratory illnesses and allergies, especially to those with compromised immune systems.


Remodeling the under-utilized space not only eliminates the presence of mold but also gives you extra living space. Depending on how you choose to design it, a finished basement can serve as a playroom, a home theater, a bar, a gaming zone, a home office, a gym, or even a rental unit.


Whether you plan to sell your home in the near future or not, finishing your basement can give your property’s value a significant boost. Based on recent studies, basement remodeling adds around 70% per dollar spent to your home’s market value, making it one of the best investments you can make to your home.

If you have decided to utilize the extra space, here are some important things to consider when remodeling your basement:


Your Local Building Code

No matter how minor your basement remodeling project is, don’t forget to check the building codes for your city. Even if your budget allows for an incredible man cave or basement suite, the local building requirements may limit what you can do with your basement.

These requirements cover everything from the width of your hallways to the height of your ceiling and the style of your staircase. You might be required to include emergency exits or restricted from installing certain appliances. If you plan to rent out the finished basement suite, there might be added requirements, such as installing a separate entrance, water meters, electric panels, and thermostats.


The regulations vary from one location to another, so make sure you’re aware of them to avoid hefty fines and problems later on. Your professional contractor, such as BCR Basements, can help you determine whether you need a building permit and how you can obtain one.


When you are hiring a contractor, you should always choose one that’s both insured and bonded. Insurance compensates for any damage done to your home by the contractor and protects you if any of their workers suffer an injury during the process. A bond covers any costs resulting from incomplete work by the contractor or if the contractor fails to obtain the building permit for you. Therefore, it's important to check the proof of insurance and bond and verify them before hiring a contractor.


The Market Value After Renovation

Over-improvement is a common problem that homeowners face when renovating their basement. In a drive to create their dream finished basement, they end up spending more money on the project than the market value of the home after renovation. Hence, predicting your total spending on the remodeling project is extremely important, especially if your underlying purpose for renovation is to sell out the home.


The total cost of renovation depends not only on the type of basement renovation but also on the current state of your basement. Before investing, look into what’s wrong with your current unfinished basement and estimate the total cost of the project. Once you have the estimate, compare it with other homes in your locality that have recently sold with the finished basement. If possible, conduct an appraisal of your home too.


Also, if you do plan to sell or rent your home, make sure you don’t over-customize it into a lavish basement. Other homeowners may not share your style and preferences, thus lowering the demand of your home. Think about what’s commonly preferred by people. For example, a living space with a bedroom, a bathroom with a toilet, and a kitchen is a common homeowner's choice. So keep it simple and see what is in before remodeling your basement.

On the other hand, if the resale value isn’t a concern because you wish to stay in your home forever and you have the cash to turn the basement into your dream space, go with designs that matter to you. An elegant movie theater or a fancy bar is an expensive improvement, but if it matches your lifestyle, go for it.


Moisture Issues You Are Dealing With

As mentioned earlier, basements are vulnerable to moisture as they’re typically below ground level. When renovating your basement, it’s extremely important to get rid of mold and other moisture-related problems that might be present. Proceeding to basement finishing without addressing these problems can result in costly issues down the road.


Basements are commonly constructed over concrete slabs that are porous. Water seeps through it resulting in inch-deep puddles and mild humidity in the air. If basement walls are also built from concrete blocks, they also face the same problem.


One great strategy to address water damage in the basement is to improve the drainage system around your home. Collection of rainwater outside and sewage backups are common causes of accumulation of moisture, especially if the ground level slopes inwards, directing the water into the basement. Adjust the ground level to direct water away from your home and clear the roof gutters and drainage lines around your home regularly. In case of serious drainage issues, consider installing French drains.


Structural Issues

No matter how recently your home was built, be sure to examine and resolve any structural issues in your basement before proceeding with the remodeling project. Check every inch of the floors and walls for cracks, leaks and water puddles, plumbing issues, and sagging ceilings. A professional contractor can help you inspect the structural issues but in case of severe problems, you might need to hire a structural engineer to devise a safe, cost-effective solution.


If your home was built decades ago and you need to upgrade the existing systems in the next five years, do it now. There’s no point in investing in basement remodeling if the drywall or ceilings will be ripped out to repair electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC ducts, etc. Make these upgrades part of your basement remodeling project.

During the remodeling process, think about what could go wrong during and after the project. If you anticipate mold or water damage issues, consider installing waterproof flooring, mold-proof paint on walls, and so on.


How You Will Use the Finished Basement Space

This is one of the most important things to consider when remodeling your basement. There are numerous ideas revolving around basement renovation. To explore the most interesting possibilities, take a look at this guide— Top Basement Renovation Ideas.

The real value for money from a finished basement can only be derived if it serves your underlying purpose. Think again about what exactly you and your family or friends like doing. Will you and your friends enjoy watching movies in the basement home theater from time to time? Will your children prefer an attractive play area over the outdoors? Will you able to find a tenant for the new basement suite?


We recommend that you stay as flexible as possible regarding the usage of the new space. Instead of preparing your basement for a single purpose, design it in such a way that you can use it for different activities. How often are you and others going to watch movies in the home theater? If your answer is ‘every weekend’, think about other things you could do during the weekdays.


If you’re working from home or plan to launch a business, a basement home office could be a great place to peacefully work or get started with the venture. Think of other things you like doing to relax after stressful working hours. A pool table or a gaming console should be a good investment for entertainment with family or friends. You can even designate some space for your workout routine. If you're serious about fitness but don't like spending money at a gym or it’s far, turn part of the basement into a full-fledged, in-home gym.

These are only some ideas to help you think out of the box. Your ultimate multi-purpose basement depends on what you, your family, guests, and friends enjoy.


The Amount of Space Available


Another critical thing to consider when remodeling your basement is determining the amount of space you’re working with. The ceiling height, for instance, can put great limitations on what you can do. Basement ceilings, based on the International Residential Code, should not be less than 7 feet tall. Your local building code may impose additional requirements for ceiling height.


Increasing the ceiling height can involve digging out the floor and lowering it, raising or replacing the existing structural beams, or rerouting ducting. Each of these measures will add to your renovation cost. The slightest of space you can save can make a big difference to ceiling height.


Avoid using ceiling fans, decorative trim or crown moldings if the ceiling height is low, and use recessed lights instead of flush mount fixtures. Hanging window curtains or shades near the ceiling rather than window frames gives an illusion of higher ceilings.

If the square footage of your basement space is limited, keep the floor as open as possible and use various lighting options and reflective surfaces such as mirrored tables. These things make the space look larger.


Things to Consider If You Want to Create a Basement Apartment

While you should check the renovation requirements for all types of basement remodeling, pay particular to the zonal laws when it comes to converting the unfinished basement into an apartment. Many aspects are not enforceable, but they are a necessity for anyone living in the space and you must arrange for them. Since there are additional considerations for a basement apartment, it makes sense to state them separately.


Separate Entrance

For fire safety, privacy, convenience, and legal reasons, your basement apartment plan should include an exterior entrance separate from your home.


Full Kitchen

One of the best ways to impress tenants and negotiate high rent is to have a full kitchen with a dishwasher. A kitchen without a dishwasher may also be fine but the more functionality you offer, the more offers you will get.


Fireplace

Basements can be a great place to seek refuge from the cold, chilly conditions of the winter, given that it has a fireplace. While heating may not be a problem with the right level of insulation, adding a great-looking fireplace will make your basement apartment more interesting to potential tenants. You may choose to skip this, but it's always a 'nice to have' feature in an area with a cold climate.


Bathroom

It goes without saying that your basement remodeling project needs a bathroom with a toilet, tub, shower, and sink. Some homeowners will have either a tub or a shower, which doesn't work for tenants. To ensure convenience, your bathroom should contain both.


Ample Lighting

Basements have a bad reputation for being dark. To get rid of that impression, you should pay particular attention to lighting and make your basement apartment as bright as possible. Pendants and chandeliers can look nice but again, depending on the ceiling height, recessed lighting may still be the best choice for a basement apartment.


Final Word

Basement renovation is one of the most significant decisions you’ll make as a homeowner. The slightest of neglect and mistakes during the process can lead to costly issues later on. The above-explained things to consider when remodeling a basement should simplify the complications. If you still need help, an experienced contractor can help you plan and execute the project and make your basement finishing dream a reality.

For top-notch basement remodeling, get in touch with BCR Basements.

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