Typically, the basement is an afterthought in homes, especially if it’s not already finished when you move in. The lack of natural light compared to the ground floor and above doesn’t make for an inviting living space. However, there are several ways to improve your basement that will both increase your home’s value and give you more space to enjoy.
- Home theater: Basements can be the perfect space for a home theater as they already have little lighting and offer ample space and an escape from summer heat or winter cold. A mounted TV on the wall and some simple built-in seating can be accomplished for under $2,000.
- Play room: Kids have a tendency to scatter their toys all over the house. Creating a playroom can help keep the mess confined to one area as basements often offer excellent storage capabilities. Just update the space to make it kid-friendly with features such as egress windows, carpet, a safe, and a finished staircase.
- A bar: Grownups need a play space too! Creating a bar in your basement is an easy upgrade and allows you to keep your gatherings focused in one room, making post-party clean up easier.
- Utility room: If you do a lot of gardening or other DIY projects around your home, consider adding a sink and hose to give yourself an area for cleanup and storage. This is especially useful if you don’t have ample room in your garage.
- Family room: You can keep your formal living room upstairs and add a second space that’s more focused on relaxation and watching TV as a family.
Here are a few things to keep in mind during this process:
- Budget: It may seem silly to bring this up, but most people think they know their numbers and still exceed their estimated budget. Thus, make sure to do thorough research and being prepared financially if you go over your budget.
- Know the codes: Get any necessary permits and inspection from local building department. Many codes call for 7 to 7½ feet of clearance. If you don’t have that height, you may be able to dig out and lower the concrete floor, but that’s a complex, pricey job. Ask your contractor if moving ducts and pipes might solve the problem.
- Keep moisture under control: Check for water issues in your basement including water drips coming through below-grade walls; cracks in foundation walls. Check outside to make sure ground is graded away from foundation.
- Wire the basement: I strongly suggested this step to be done by professional electrician. At best, bad wiring just won’t work. At worst, it can start fires or electrocute you.
- Insert Plumbing: I also suggest this step to be done by professional as well. Even though the consequence may not be life threatening, it can lead to unnecessary and costly repairs.
- Utility Room is not for finishing: The area where HVAC, water heater, furnace are located has a very specific code for space requirements. You will need access to this area for inspection and repair at some point. If it is in your planned finish area, be sure of leaving proper space to avoid problems in the long run.