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50 Greatest Basement Remodeling Tips

How to Remodel Your Basement
Pursuing a basement remodel can be an overwhelming task. A thousand details need to be thought over and plans made to cover every possibility. Basement remodeling tips help you to plan by pointing out things you may not have thought of. Read through our tips and get some of the best ideas out there and begin making your plans. Your basement can be valuable space that can not only give you more room, but add to the value of your home.

This can all be done without having to permit and construct an extension to your home. Since your basement already is within the footprint of your home it won’t ever run up to a property line, or need to be approved by a home owners association like an exterior remodel may have to be. So plunge on in and take back your basement and get some more living space. With the proper care and planning your basement can become a cozy bedroom or a luxurious media space.

  1. Most cities require livable areas to have two forms of egress. This means putting in a window large enough to meet code requirements and a window well so that people can get out if necessary. Without this a fully finished basement may add no value to your home at all.
  2. Natural light is at a premium in a basement, use it to your best advantage by placing your main traffic areas in places that get natural light.
  3. Using normal drywall below grade can cause mold growth on the paper surfaces. Use sheetrock paneling that is not paper faced to keep the possibility of mold much lower. Fiberglass faced drywall is often your best choice as it will not mold as easily, it is more expensive up front though.
  4. All work will need to be approved by the local permitting authority. You will need to prepare a detailed plan to submit for approval, and then keep to that plan.
  5. The basement often has structural support columns scattered through the space. If you plan on adding walls try to incorporate any structural supports. This will both hide the supports and be save the cost of replacing them with beam.
  6. Any existing mechanical areas need to retain enough access space in order to do any maintenance. This means that you have to leave enough space to get into the area and work on heating, air conditioning, or other items.
  7. Luxury vinyl flooring is the best bet for below grade areas. They will resist any moisture that might damage actual wood flooring.
  8. A lot of basements have the easiest access to most of the houses main plumbing stacks. A traditional drywall ceiling can often cost thousands to repair if you need to get at the pipes. Consider a drop ceiling to give yourself easier access. If you do go with drywall ensure you put access points at the main areas of concern.
  9. An innovative ceiling idea is to make it out of beadboard and trim supports. This gives you access to the plumbing and wiring while still making your basement interesting and unique.
  10. Lighting will be more of an issue in a basement, the lack of windows means you will rely more on lighting fixtures to ensure your basement is not dark and dismal.
  11. Window wells don’t have to be ugly. Use a fake stone or make your well out of bricks to create a window well that isn’t an eyesore.
  12. Window wells can be a problem for water pooling. Install a drain in them to avoid this issue, tie the drain into your sump pump or water extraction system.
  13. Consider putting a mini-fridge and wet bar in the basement. This will keep you from needing to trudge up and down stairs just to grab a drink.
  14. Put cabinetry under high windows to make it look more like a design element.
  15. Below grade plumbing will likely need backflow prevention valves and macerating extractor pumps in order to function effectively and safely.
  16. Test for moisture issues before you begin. Once you have put everything into place is the worst time to discover you have leaks in pipes or retaining walls.
  17. Inspect the joists of the floor above to make sure nothing needs repair before beginning your remodel.
  18. Ensure you have the required ceiling height in your basement in order for it to be counted as living space. Most city building codes require you to have 7 ½ feet of clearance.
  19. If you don’t have the required 7 1/2 feet of clearance you may be able to lower the floor, this is an expensive proposition though and should be discussed with a contractor.
  20. You can also gain a bit more room by lowering portions of the flooring. If you need a few more inches for a workout area or similar use the floor can be dug out without affecting the foundation as long
  21. Double check any furnaces and water heaters to ensure they are properly ventilated. Address any issues before turning the area into sleeping or living spaces.
  22. Make sure you use downspout extensions on the ground outside your home to keep surface water at least 10 feet from the foundation.
  23. To help prevent water issues slope your yard away from the foundation if possible. Standing pools of water near your foundations can often be the cause of water leaking into your basement.
  24. Before beginning work on your new basement walls seal cracks or gaps around pipes or anything going through the foundations with patching compound.
  25. An in ground gutter is a below the surface system to ensure water is directed away from the basement walls from the outside. This option is composed of a water barrier buried just below the surface and sloped to direct water away.
  26. Large cracks in your basement walls can be sealed with hydraulic cement to ensure that there are no moisture issues after you put up your new basement walls.
  27. Prior to constructing walls insulate any pipes that will be covered. This will prevent water damage from condensation that may form on the pipe.
  28. Put rigid foam insulation on each wall before beginning to put studs to keep out the cold of being below grade.
  29. To save yourself some time and effort it may make sense to consider premade systems that are designed just for your basement walls.
  30. Use sound dampening materials to keep the noise levels from each room above coming down into the basement. Don’t forget to try and isolate vents which may transmit noise through the air handler.
  31. Ensure you have good ventilation down into the basement. An air filtration system can both keep air circulating and keep it fresh smelling. The best option is to have one that also is a dehumidifier to dry out your basement.
  32. If possible have open access to the floor above. This type of open access will keep your basement feeling more a part of your home and not so much of a completely separate area.
  33. Put some thick area rugs down to soften up the bathroom and make it feel more warm and inviting.
  34. Keep the basement remodel in line with the rest of the house. Avoid having completely different design themes upstairs and downstairs.
  35. Don’t put too much into your basement remodel. It lowers the overall value of your home to have only the basement luxurious while the rest is old and dated.
  36. Soffits hide pipes without requiring a lower ceiling in the whole basement space. To make it look less like a soffit make it wider than necessary and bring it all the way to the nearest wall.
  37. Put recessed lighting in your soffit to make it more of a design element.
  38. Basement flooding is a very real possibility. Decide what will happen if it does by having a plan for where you want water to go. Putting in a good drain to a pit with a sump pump or storm drain may save you thousands down the road.
  39. A ventless fireplace that uses propane, gels, or electricity are a great option for a basement. They can make a room feel more like those above grade and modern options look and function great. The top of the line options use steam for 3D projections and are convincingly lifelike.
  40. Open stairs are another great option for a basement. By keeping the stairs open you keep the eye line all the way to the wall giving the basement a more spacious feel.
  41. Seal your rim joints to save a bunch on your energy costs. Use rigid foam inserts cut to fit, and caulked into place. Sealing these off prevents energy loss that can make your basement remodel cost more to heat and cool.
  42. If your basement remodel is focused on a media room or home theater ensure your lighting is able to be adjusted by dimmer switches. Not every event will be better in complete darkness.
  43. Turning your basement into a kid friendly zone should include some soft flooring to ensure they are less likely to get hurt. A concrete floor can be very unforgiving when it comes to slips and falls.
  44. Avoid darker colors for walls and floors since the basement is a place that already fights being a darker room than anywhere else in your home.
  45. If you don’t want to (or can’t afford) to put a full ceiling in consider just painting everything above your head the same color. This is what is done in more industrial settings. This might just be an option considering how you plan to decorate the space. Ensure the paint is dark colored, flat, and paint everything including wires.
  46. Fabric can also be a low budget option for finishing your ceiling . Use large sheets of fabric hung in sort of tent like drapes to cover the ceiling. While not for everyone this whimsical option may be perfect for the home owner who goes for off beat décor.
  47. To give your concrete block wall a bit more visual oomph paint the individual blocks in different shades to give them a look that mimics another substance like large bricks or stones. This can be something that gives a plain wall some visual interest.
  48. A low cost option to covering up plain concrete bricks is to put curtain rods and curtains on one or more walls. One of the advantages is that you can change out the curtains seasonally.
  49. Make access panels look like art by framing them and putting art inside the frame. This not only conceals the access point but adds to the look of the wall.
  50. Basement game rooms require more space than you may think. Putting a seven foot pool table into a room requires the room to be around 13′ by 16′ to accommodate a pool cue.

 

References
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20557080_21098734,00.html
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/basement/basement-remodeling-tips
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2612046/list/contractor-tips-finish-your-basement-the-right-way
http://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/other-rooms/basement-remodeling-ideas-from-tv-pictures