A finished basement can be a great way to add useable square footage to your home. A basement
remodel not only provides more living space, it’s generally less expensive than a bedroom or family
room addition. Here are some tips to help with planning a warm and comfortable basement space.
Start with a basement that doesn’t have any issues with moisture. You don’t want to invest your hard earned money in a space that will be damp and musty. If you’ve noticed any water or moisture, you want to address those issues now. Check to make sure that the existing grade around your home is sloped away from its foundation. Gutters on your home should be sized large enough to handle a heavy rain and the downspouts should be buried in a drain tile to direct water away. Any cracks in foundation walls should be repaired, seal where the wall meets the floor, and consider adding a waterproofing paint. Also, it’s a good idea to test for Radon gas (Google it if you need more info).
Visualize and plan the finished basement area. You want to take into account where the basement stairs, HVAC, plumbing and obstructions to headroom height are located. Depending on the type of living space you’re adding, think about how you’ll tie into existing mechanical systems. For example, if you are adding a bathroom, has the basement already been roughed in for it? If it hasn’t, you can add a sewage ejection system, but you’ll want to find the most efficient way to accommodate it. If you’re planning on adding a bedroom, you need to install an egress window (to allow for escape so occupants wouldn’t be trapped during a fire). You don’t want that window located under an existing deck and you might try to place it in a location that gives you the most natural light (a window that faces north gives you the least amount). Some careful planning at this stage goes a long way.
Once you have a basic idea, it’s time to fine tune it. The doorway into the basement stair should be at least 32” and preferably 36” to make it easy to get large items into the finished space and basement storage areas. Jack posts or columns can be located in framed walls and sometimes eliminated by beefing up existing beams (always check with an engineer). In a worst case, they can be incorporated as a decorative element. Any obstructing ductwork or piping can be rerouted. If that isn’t an option, plan on building soffits without cutting up the ceiling line. Also, you need to leave access to any mechanicals such as electrical junction boxes and water supply shut-offs.
Basements are typically cold, so heating can be an issue. How are you going to heat and cool the space? To make the space more comfortable, insulate the foundation walls. If you’re tying into the existing HVAC equipment, it should be sized to handle the additional load. You might want to consider “zoning” the system so that you have a separate thermostat to control the temperature in the basement area only. It might also be a good idea to add an alternate heat source. A direct vent fireplace is one option that’s great for taking the chill off and can visually warm up the space.
Don’t overlook the lighting and electrical system. Basements are usually dark so make sure you have plenty of lighting. Recessed lighting is a great way to brighten things up. You can also use lighting to define certain areas and their function. Make sure you have plenty of electrical receptacles and give yourself a few options for phone and cable outlets so you’re not stuck with a single furniture arrangement. One other thing to consider is pre-wiring for audio or a home theater system. It’s easier to take care of this before drywall is hung.
Lastly, your basement remodel should feel like it fits in the home. You want to keep things consistent from the main level to the basement so it flows with your entire home. If your house has a traditional style, a modern basement might feel out of place. The style and finish of doors, door casing, baseboards, hardware, lighting, and plumbing fixtures are all important. Take your homes style into account when selecting moldings, hardware, fixtures, and flooring.
I hope this article gives you some ideas so you can make the most of your basements space. A little planning goes a long way in creating square footage that can add value and enjoyment. Basements don’t have to be cold, damp, and dark when they’re done right. If you’re located in the Winston-Salem, NC area and would like more info about home remodeling or finishing your basement, give us a call or use the contact form on our site.