Throughout most of the country, the basement is the room in the house that gets the least amount of attention. Yet, for many homeowners, the basement has so much potential. With so much room, basements offer infinite possibilities for homeowners looking to add extra living space, storage, or even a home office or gym.
Before you can start planning your dream basement renovation, there are a few things you need to take into account. This guide will cover everything you need to know about redoing your basement, from waterproofing and insulation to flooring and layout.
Reasons to Redo Your Basement
There are plenty of reasons you might want to redo your basement. Here are a few of the most common:
1. Additional living space
If your home feels cramped and you're longing for more living space, consider finishing your basement. This can be an especially cost-effective way to add living space, since you're starting with an existing structure.
Depending on the size of your basement, you could end up with an expansive new living area. For example, if your basement is the same size as your home's ground floor, you could effectively double your living space by finishing the basement.
2. Add recreational space
A finished basement can be the perfect spot for new home additions such as a gym, pool table, entertainment area, or any kind of recreational area. If you have kids, a basement playroom can give them their own space to play and explore without taking away from the rest of your house. Some homeowners even add home gyms, bowling alleys, or indoor pools to their basements.
3. Rental space
If you build out your basement to make it livable, you could rent it out as an apartment or in-law suite. This can be a great way to bring in extra income, especially if you live in an area with high rental demand.
Before you start planning your basement rental, though, make sure to check your local zoning laws. Some areas have restrictions on renting out basement space due to safety concerns. When remodeling your basement, you should also consider what elements it would need to be considered livable space, such as a kitchen, bathroom, and separate entrance.
4. Increase the value of your home
A finished basement can also increase the resale value of your home. On average, a basement refinish adds about 70% of the project's cost to the value of your home. If you spend $20,000 on your basement remodel, you could see an increase of $14,000 in your home's resale value. Of course, this will vary depending on the quality of the finish and the housing market in your area.
5. Extra storage space
If your home is lacking storage, a basement can be the perfect solution. You can add cabinets, shelves, and closets to store everything from holiday decorations to out-of-season clothes.
You could even build a wine cellar or basement workshop for all your hobby supplies. Just make sure to keep your basement storage dry and free of mold and mildew so that these things don't end up ruined.
Steps to Take Before You Start
If you’re ready to start planning your basement renovation, here are a few steps to take before you begin:
1. Check for Water Damage
The first thing you'll want to do is check your basement for any signs of water damage. Look for cracks in the foundation, peeling paint, or any other evidence of moisture. If you find any water damage, you'll need to address this before you start your renovation. Otherwise, you could end up with even more damage or mold growth.
2. Get a Professional Inspection
If you're not sure whether your basement has water damage, it's a good idea to get a professional inspection. A qualified inspector will be able to tell you whether there's any damage and what needs to be fixed. They can also check for things like mold, mildew, and asbestos that you might not be able to see. Once you know what needs to be fixed, you can start planning your repair and renovation.
3. Create a Basic Plan
There’s a good chance you'll hire contractors to help you with your basement renovation. Before you do, it's a good idea to have a basic plan in place. Start by deciding what you want to use the space for. Then, sketch out a rough layout of how you want the finished space to look. This will give contractors an idea of what you're hoping to achieve and help them give you an accurate estimate.
4. Get Multiple Estimates
After you've created a basic plan, it's time to start getting estimates from contractors. When you're meeting with contractors, be sure to ask about their experience with basement renovations. It's also a good idea to get multiple estimates so that you can compare prices and find the best deal. Once you've found a contractor you're happy with, you can start planning your renovation in more detail.
Choosing the Right Contractor for the Job
When you're ready to start your basement renovation, choosing the right contractor is important. Here are a few things to look for:
- Experience: Make sure your contractor has experience with basement renovations. This will help ensure that they know how to properly waterproof and insulate your space.
- References: Ask your contractor for references from past clients. This will give you an idea of their workmanship and whether they're easy to work with.
- Licensing and insurance: Be sure to check that your contractor is licensed and insured. This will protect you in case of any accidents or damage during the renovation process.
It is also best to have a contract outlining the project's scope of work and cost. This will help ensure that both you and your contractor are on the same page and there are no surprises down the road.
The Basement Renovation Process
The process of renovating your basement takes a few steps:
- Waterproofing and insulation
- Electrical and plumbing
- Finishing touches
Waterproofing and Insulation
The first step to any basement renovation is ensuring the space is properly waterproofed and insulated. This will help protect your home from water damage and keep the space warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are a few different ways to waterproof your basement. A few of the most common are:
- Exterior waterproofing: This involves excavating the soil around your foundation and installing a drainage system.
- Interior waterproofing: This involves sealing the cracks in your foundation and walls with a waterproof sealant.
- Sump pump: This is a pump that helps remove water from your basement before it can cause damage.
When it comes to insulation, there are a few different options. The type of insulation you choose will depend on your climate and budget. Some common types of insulation are:
- Fiberglass batts: This is a type of fiberglass insulation that comes in pre-cut lengths. It's one of the most affordable options but it can be difficult to install.
- Spray foam: This is a type of insulation that's sprayed onto your basement walls. It's more expensive than fiberglass batts but it's easier to install and provides better coverage.
- Rigid foam boards: This is a type of insulation that comes in sheets or panels. It can be more difficult to install but it provides good coverage and is more energy-efficient than fiberglass batts.
Once you've waterproofed and insulated your basement, you're ready to start framing.
Framing is one of the most important steps in renovating your basement. The frame creates a stable structure for your walls and ensures that they will be strong enough to support the weight of your finished basement.
Your contractor will use wood or metal studs to create the frame, depending on the type of walls you have installed. Metal framing is more expensive than wood but is also more durable and easier to work with.
If you're finishing your basement, you'll need to install drywall. Drywall is a type of wall paneling that's made from gypsum and paper. It's used to create smooth, finished walls. Your contractor will first attach the drywall panels to the studs using screws or nails. Once the panels are in place, they'll use a putty knife to apply joint compound to the seams. The joint compound will help to create a seamless look. Once the joint compound is dry, your contractor will sand it down and apply a primer. After the primer has dried, they'll paint the walls.
The type of flooring you choose will depend on the style of your basement and your budget. Some common types of flooring are:
- Carpet: Carpet is a popular choice for basements because it's affordable and easy to install. It's also comfortable and can help to reduce noise.
- Vinyl: Vinyl is a type of flooring that's made from PVC. It's water-resistant and easy to clean, making it a good choice for basements.
- Linoleum: Linoleum is a type of flooring that's made from linseed oil, cork, and wood flour. It's environmentally friendly and easy to install.
- Tile: Tile is a popular choice for basements because it's durable and easy to clean. However, it can be more expensive than other options.
- Marble: Marble is a luxurious choice for flooring but it's also expensive. It's durable and easy to clean, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas.
When installing flooring, your contractor will first need to prepare the surface. They'll remove any old flooring and make sure that the subfloor is level. Once the surface is prepared, they'll install the new flooring. Carpet and vinyl can be installed using adhesive, while tile and marble require grout and mortar.
The ceiling is one of the most important parts of your basement. It helps to keep the noise from upstairs from disrupting your peace and quiet. There are a few different types of ceilings:
- Acoustic tiles: These are made from fiberglass or mineral wool and help to reduce noise.
- Drop ceilings: Drop ceilings are made from panels that are suspended from the ceiling. They're popular among homeowners with basements because they're easy to install and can be used to hide wiring.
- Beadboard: Beadboard is a type of wood paneling that's often used on ceilings. It's known for giving your basement a warm, cozy feel.
- Drywall: Drywall ceilings are very common because they're affordable. Made from gypsum and paper, they can be painted or left unfinished.
When choosing a ceiling, you'll need to consider the height of your basement and the amount of noise you want to reduce. If you have a low basement, acoustic tiles may not be the best choice because they can make the space feel even smaller.
Drop ceilings are a good option for low basements because they don't require as much height. If you're looking for a cozy feel, beadboard ceilings are good choices. If you want a more modern look, drywall ceilings are the way to go.
Electrical and Plumbing
The electrical and plumbing configurations can be labor-intensive if your basement isn't equipped with them already. Adding an electrical system to your basement will require running wiring through the walls and ceiling. You'll also need to install outlets and light fixtures.
If you're adding a bathroom, you'll need to run plumbing lines for the sink, toilet, and shower. You'll also need to install fixtures such as the toilet, sink, and shower. This will be one of the most expensive parts of your basement finishing project.
To save money, you can try to do some of the work yourself. However, it's important to note that this is a risky venture. If done incorrectly, you could cause serious damage to your home. It's best to leave this work to a professional.
Once the hard work is done, you'll probably wonder how to finish a basement. One important consideration is lighting. Since your basement won't get much–if any–natural light, you'll need to install artificial lighting. There are a few different types of basement lighting:
- Fluorescent lights: These are commonly used in basements because they're inexpensive and bright. However, they can give your basement a clinical feel.
- Recessed lights: Recessed lights are installed in the ceiling and provide a more subtle light. They're a good choice if you want to create a cozy feel in your basement.
- Track lights: Track lights are installed along the ceiling and can be used to highlight artwork or other features in your basement.
You'll also need to think about furniture and storage, especially if you plan to use your basement as a living space. Coffee tables, dining tables, chairs, and sofas are all great pieces of furniture for basements. You'll also need to find a place to store things like an entertainment center, books, and games. One final consideration is storage. When it comes to shelving and cabinets, you have a few different options:
- Fixed shelving: Fixed shelving is installed directly into the walls. It's a good choice if you want to create a built-in look.
- Freestanding shelving: Freestanding shelving is not attached to the walls. It's easy to install and can be moved around if you need to change the layout of your basement.
- Cabinets: Cabinets are a good choice if you want to store things out of sight. They come in a variety of styles, so you're sure to find one that fits your needs.
You should also feel free to decorate your newly renovated basement however you see fit.
Redoing your basement can be an exciting task that will transform your home, improve its value, and add functionality. With a little planning and effort, you can create a space that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.