Basements were once a place where you sent the kids off to play — that or set up a workshop, laundry room, and storage space. When the housing market stalled, and people decided it was best to stay put, opinions started to change on what to do with this underground space. With a little spit and polish, it could be quite livable.
If you now find yourself in this camp, it’s important to consider the following before you get too far into the planning process for a basement remodel:
1. Moisture. With so many pipes and potential cracks in the foundation, it’s always wise to check your basement for any water issues. A pool of water is an obvious sign, but also look for any drips or staining along below-grade walls, as well as any separation in the mortar of your foundation. You’ll want to repair the damage if necessary.
2. Water drainage. Going hand-in-hand with signs of moisture in the basement is the water drainage around your home. You want to make sure you’re drawing the rainwater away from the foundation. Make sure the ground is graded away the house, and check that all gutters are free of debris and downspouts are directed away from the foundation.
3. Budget. While you may be adding livable square footage to your home, understand that the value of most basement spaces will be half that of those above ground. So, keep this in mind when establishing your budget for a basement remodel. A good rule of thumb is to spend anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent of the value of your home.
4. Headroom. When finishing a basement, you always want to make sure there’s plenty of headroom. If you plan to put in an actual ceiling, 8’ high is preferable, but you can get as low as 7’6” when you must accommodate for ducts or lighting.
5. Ductwork. Ductwork often hangs much lower than the ceilings in a basement. Moving it will obviously add time and money to the remodel, so consider more economical options that could add a nice design element to the room, like a soffit or even a tray ceiling — where the ceiling takes on the appearance of an inverted tray.
6. Mechanics. Besides ductwork, the furnace and water heater are sometimes obstacles to getting the design you’d hoped for in the space. While you could always move either one of these mechanical systems, this can get expensive. A better option is to situate a pair of closet doors in front of the mechanics or look for creative ways to design around them.
7. Load. Walls running perpendicular to the floor joists are usually loadbearing. If they get in the way of your ideal floor plan, you must keep their columns to support the weight of the floor above. Again, there are many creative ways to design around these supports, like creating a built-in media center or a simple bookshelf.
8. Layout. Most homeowners (and homebuyers, at that) often want an open space in a finished basement to use as they see fit. If possible, don’t chop up the basement space too much. You could have a hard time moving the home when or if you decide to sell.
9. Lighting. In most basements, natural light is minimal. During the planning phase, talk to a designer about the possibility of “over-lighting” the space. You can then put all the lights on dimmer switches so you’ll have more control over the lighting as the space goes from morning into night.
If you’d like to learn more about finishing your basement, or would like to discuss your ideas for a basement remodel, please feel free to contact Fair & Square Remodeling today. We’d be more than happy to come out to your house and look at what we can do with the space.