Want a Bedroom and a Bathroom in the Basement?

I have gotten three of these calls in the past couple of weeks. The reasons for wanting to put a bedroom and a bathroom in a basement can vary. One person is having a baby and needs the extra space. One young couple was looking for a guest bedroom. One family had a similar need – a place for mom to stay when she came over.

I had to smile a bit when I heard about wanting to remodel the basement so Mom could have a place to stay. Some of you already know that my mother-in–law came over from Beijing two years ago and hasn’t left since. Now my father-in-law is here.  I asked Carol how long he was staying and she wasn’t sure.

I strongly recommend thinking about creating a nice space for parents or in-laws to stay – lest they never leave.

It used to be that when I was in trouble with my wife, I could go to the basement to escape. Now if I go into the basement to escape, my mother–in–law scowls at me and gives me the Chinese version of what my wife just gave me in English.

Why remodel basements? Is basement remodeling a good idea? What are some issues with basement remodeling?

Most people remodel their basement for one simple reason: They need more space. And the basement seems like a real easy place to start. Just remove the dark paneling from the walls, pull up the smelly green shag carpet from the floor, put in a few lights and a bathroom and presto. More space.

Basement remodels are very popular right now. With the real estate market being what it is, instead of taking a huge loss on selling their homes and moving to new ones, people are looking to improve what they have.

Are basement remodeling projects a good idea?  

Remodeling Magazine publishes “The Cost Versus Value Report.”

This report lists the average costs of a particular project and the costs recouped from doing a particular remodeling project.  In the Midwest, a basement remodel on average recoups 70% of the cost. Given that information, doing a basement remodel to sell your house seems like it would not be a good investment. I would check with your Realtor for specific questions related to a specific house because there are always exceptions.

On the other hand, the basement is often the least expensive way to add space. One suggestion I have before you automatically decide a basement is the best place for more space is to talk with a good designer or contractor. Often a professional can have other insights on how to solve the space issue you may be having.

What are some issues with basement remodeling?

A basement is a hole in the ground. In Minnesota, holes in the ground tend to attract moisture which can lead to mold. Radon is an issue in Minnesota. If you have one of those basements that someone did a horrible job remodeling and you suspect it was done by the previous homeowner or his friends, you may have more of these issues than normal. Does your basement smell musty or moldy?

Many times there are potentially hazardous materials in your basement such as asbestos and lead. These materials need to be properly identified and disposed of.

In addition to all this, there are often issues with creating a design that works well for the space yet doesn’t break the budget. If there is ductwork and plumbing pipes to work around, those can be expensive to move.

There are plenty of good reasons to remodel a basement. Just make sure you do your research and understand what you are getting into before you start. Make sure your plan is the right solution for your extra space.

My basement was remodeled right. It is warm, dry, and cozy. I can’t get my mother-in-law out of it. Perhaps if I had kept the dark paneling, the musty carpet, and the one overhead light bulb, she would not stay as long.

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