There are many good reasons to finish a basement. It might be a great way to add an extra living space to your house, such as establishing a secondary living room or providing an additional guest bedroom. It’s also a great way to boost the value of your home, especially if you plan on selling it in the next several years.
That said, there are many ways that a basement finishing project can go wrong; you’ll need to be careful and proactive to finish a basement in style.
Here’s how to do it.
Choose an Overall Style
One of the first things you’ll need to do is choose the overall style of the room. Are you looking for something basic and minimalistic or something more ornate and complex? Do you want it to look modern and clean or give it more of a rustic feel? There are no right or wrong answers here, but your stylistic choices will have an impact on many smaller decisions to come.
Decide on the Function of the Room
You’ll also need to decide on the function and layout of the room. What are you doing trying to accomplish by finishing the basement? Are you converting the basement into an extra bedroom? If so, you’ll need to decide where the bed is going to go and how you’re going to position the rest of the room. Will this be a secondary living space? If so, where will you place the TV and the couch? These questions can help you decide where to place electrical wires, plumbing, and other fixtures.
Conduct an Inspection
It’s a good idea to inspect your basement thoroughly before you begin any type of finishing project. Figure out how much moisture you’re dealing with by hanging plastic sheeting and checking for condensation. You can use an awl to look for rot and other points of damage in floor joists and rim joists, as well as wood-framed windows. You can also look for any sagging in your walls and inspect your ventilation for any potential issues.
It pays to correct these issues before you begin remodeling.
Optimize for Comfort
Basements can be uncomfortable, even after they’re finished. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to spend at least some time optimizing for comfort.
· Temperature. Basements tend to be colder than the rest of the house, so it pays to have a supplementary heating source. A wood stove, for example, can provide radiant heat to the space while also adding a decorative touch.
· Humidity. How are you going to handle the humidity in the basement? If you have leakage or other water problems, this is going to be an even more important consideration. For example, if you have an issue with flooding you will want to take immediate action (more here about that) and call in water damage restoration professionals. For most basements, however, a simple dehumidifier is all it takes to resolve this problem.
· Lighting. You don’t want your basement to be a dark living space, so how are you going to light it? If there aren’t any windows in the basement to allow for natural light, you’ll need to make up the difference with bright LEDs and both primary and secondary lighting sources.
· Smell. Is there a smell in the basement? If so, how do you plan to neutralize it? Dehumidifiers can help, but you may need additional sources of pleasant scents to produce a more comfortable living space.
Get Multiple Quotes
It’s a standard recommendation to get at least three quotes from different contractors before proceeding with any home project. If you’re going to do the work yourself, you’ll want to shop for materials at several different places. Depending on the intensity and end goals of your remodeling project, your basement finishing endeavor could end up costing thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, so it pays to shop around for the best deal.
Start Shopping for Décor
Once you have the basics in place (e.g., drywall and carpet), you can start shopping for décor. A couple of prominent pieces of well-made furniture can tie the room together, and tasteful pieces of art on the walls can bring life to an otherwise bland space.
Leave Room for Expansion and Modification
Finally, leave plenty of room for expansion and modification in the future. You don’t want to box yourself in, leaving no flexibility for future improvements. No matter how well you plan or how much research you’ve done, there’s a chance you’re forgetting something. There is also a chance your tastes and needs will change in the future.
Whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor, the project itself is probably going to be stressful. Try to take things one step at a time and focus on whatever you can control. If you’re attentive and thorough, you should have no trouble putting together the basement of your dreams.
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