Many homeowners bought their house partially because it features an unfinished basement. They see that basement as a blank canvas for their own conceptual use of the space. They may fancy the addition of another bedroom, family room, or even an entertainment area.
A basement-finishing project delivers a big return on investment because it significantly increases your livable space, which typically increases your house’s value. However, such a remodel project does carry its own set of considerations, which you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re taking on this type of project.
1. Layout Is Key
In some instances, the size of the basement is equal to the size of your ground floor. But even if your basement isn’t quite that large, the layout of your plan is crucial. The layout should take into consideration the special environment of a basement.
One important consideration for the layout is light source. Basements get little natural light. Both a bedroom and the main socializing areas should take priority for any locations that have windows. However, you’ll likely still be left with darker areas. A good purpose for such an area is a space for watching TV or gaming. Lack of natural light is a benefit because it reduces glare on the screen.
Likewise, work with what you have whenever possible. If your basement already has plumbing and electricity in place, try to plan the layout to make the most use of those resources.
2. Basement Lighting Requires a Plan
As noted, you won’t have much natural light. Therefore, you should devise an illumination plan that works for the types of activities that will take place in the basement.
Most builders recommend recessed ceiling cans if you have sufficient head room. These lights create general illumination; they work well with any kind of décor and generally don’t cause glare.
Your basement will also require task lighting. Since you can’t count on natural light, any task areas should be well illuminated. If you have a large area for tasks, such as a bar or miniature kitchen, you could have a monorail with adjustable light fixtures installed. Pendant and wall lights are other options.
3. Basements Must Be Kept Dry
Because basements are located below ground level, they’re prone to damp from the surrounding soil. So start with a general inspection of your basement to get a scope of any issues.
Walk around your basement and look for any signs of a moisture issue. The obvious sign is if you see actual pools or trickles of water. Such signs will likely indicate a crack in your wall or foundation. Signs of moisture might be less obvious, such as wet patches or discoloration on the walls.
Waterproofing will be the foundation of your basement-finishing project. You may be able to have water-lock paint applied for minor moisture problems. However, larger moisture problems will require fixing the underlying issue. You may also need exterior waterproofing and an elevation of the flooring.
4. Basements Can Require Heating and Cooling
A finished basement can have a hidden benefit — good ambient temperature. For example, in the summer it keeps cool because it’s below grade. If your water heater or furnace is located in the basement, it might be naturally warm in the winter.
However, if your plan for the basement includes high-use spaces, you may need to consider additional heating and cooling. Many homeowners opt for electrical baseboard heaters. In the summer, a ceiling fan might be sufficient. Spend time in your basement to gauge what heating and cooling accommodations you might have to make.
In that vein, consider adding insulation as part of your finishing project. Builders often don’t insulate an unfinished basement. So have the contractors install insulation on all exterior walls. Typically, the contractors will install a vapor barrier and rigid-foam insulation over the foundation walls. They finish it with studs and drywall or an interlocking panel system.
Don’t let your basement space go to waste. Keep the above considerations in mind as you plan your basement-finishing project. Contact DESIGNFirst Builders for help at every phase of your project.
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