Basement Remodeling Essentials

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A basement remodel is a cost-effective way to greatly expand your home’s living space.However, a basement remodel is unique because before you can even beginthinking about the décor, you must first tackle the basics. Plumbing, electrical, drywall and insulation must all be completed if your basement is unfinished. And, it's very important to resolve any problems with foundation damage early to prevent basement flooding.

Below are nine easy steps to reclaim

A basement remodel is a cost-effective way to greatly expand your home’s living space.However, a basement remodel is unique because before you can even beginthinking about the décor, you must first tackle the basics. Plumbing, electrical, drywall and insulation must all be completed if your basement is unfinished. And, it's very important to resolve any problems with foundation damage early to prevent basement flooding.


Below are nine easy steps to reclaim your basement and transform it into your dream .


1. Solve Basement Water Problems First


Even if your basement rarely has problems with dampness or flooding,it's best to solve the problem completely before beginning anyremodeling work.


Permanent solutions can take time to implement. A good place to startis to talk to an independent home inspector who specializes inwaterproofing problems.


2. Decide on the Best Use of Your Basement


Consider using the space for activities for which typical basement characteristics offer natural advantages.


The lack of light is useful when setting up a home theater or a darkroom. The isolation helps create a sound break for a play area, ateenager's hangout or a place to practice a musical instrument.


Also, in basements, there is usually ready access to things like waterlines and heating and cooling ducts. This makes adding a bath easierthan it would be elsewhere in the house.


3. Consider Future Uses of Your Basement


Perhaps you are not building a bathroom or a bar in your basement now,but will want to in the future. Or maybe you would eventually like amedia room or home office. It will be much more cost-effective toinstall the required plumbing and electrical systems now that you willneed later.


4. Get Help with Your Basement Design


While your basement may not be much to look at now, you'll want to endup with quality living space when the project is complete. An architector interior designer can help you get the most out of the space. Alittle forethought and careful planning now can help you create a spacethat is attractive, comfortable and useful.


5. Pay Attention to Air Circulation


When your home was first built, the odds are that there were few if anyregisters or vents installed in the basement. When you remodel yourbasement, you need to think about the need for good air circulation,adding openings where necessary.


You'll also have to include a return air duct, but it's important thatit be located far from the furnace. Otherwise, it may suck dangerousfurnace exhaust fumes back into the house.


To be on the safe side, install a carbon monoxide detector in yourbasement so that you'll have an early warning of any problems with theventing of the furnace or any other major appliances.


6. Maximize Your Basement's Natural Light


For many reasons, you'll probably want to add more light in your basement.


If parts of the basement extend above the ground, you can add new windows or enlarge existing ones.


If that isn't possible, another option is to dig window wells. Windowwells can increase the odds of water problems, so it's a good idea tobuild ones with waterproof covers.


Another advantage of enlarged windows is that they provide alternative escape routes in case of fire.


One concern that some people have about basement windows is that theyprovide thieves with ideal access to the home. One way to mitigate thatrisk is to install glass bricks (rather than conventional windows) athigh-risk locations.


Maximize the effect of regular windows by mounting some windows in theinterior walls between rooms that open pathways for natural light toreach interior rooms.


7. Make Creative Use of Artificial Light


Typically, basement ceilings are low, creating the feeling that you'rein a cave. To offset this, use indirect lighting that splashes largepools of light on the ceiling. This will open up the space and makerooms appear higher than they are.


A mix of this up-lighting and traditional recessed lighting will giveyou the flexibility you need to create a variety of lighting moods.


Mirrors, mounted on the walls or even ceilings, can also amplify and reinforce lighting effects.


8. Insulate Your Basement Well


Proper insulation is critical to creating a comfortable, dry basement.


Besides keeping out the cold, basement insulation preventscondensation. The ground stays cool year round. It in turn keepsbasement walls cool. When the warmer air in the room comes in contactwith all those cool walls, it has to give up some of its moisture inthe form of condensation.


Condensation is, in fact, the primary source of the moisture thatcauses mold and mildew problems in basements. Effective insulationseparates the warm air of the room from the cool walls, therebypreventing the moisture problems that stem from condensation.


9. Select Practical Furnishings


Use plush carpets and drapes sparingly, if at all. Surfaces that don'tabsorb moisture are best. Also, be careful about storing clothes,linens and books in a basement.


For floors, area rugs are ideal because they can be removed, cleanedand dried. If you must have wall-to-wall carpeting, consider a low pilecommercial or indoor/outdoor type.


If you pay attention to details, there is no reason why you can'tcreate high value, high comfort living space in a basement. Properlyfinishing a basement only costs a fraction of what it costs to build anaddition. That means you'll have more money in your pocket for the nextbig home improvement project on your list!



David Hollies is a remodeling industry educator and consultant. Heis also the founder of Washington D.C.-based Home Connections, Inc.

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