What Should I Consider When Remodeling a Basement?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2020
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Homes with unfinished basements can provide homeowners with an additional hidden value. By remodeling a basement into finished living space, the usable portion of the home increases in size. Yet many municipalities do not tax the square footage of a basement as living space regardless of whether or not it is finished. Remodeling a basement can turn an otherwise unusable and unfriendly space into a place for a home office, recreation room, family room, or other usable space as needed.

Before remodeling a basement, there are a few points to consider. The first priority should be to ascertain whether or not it is practical and feasible. A basement with leaks or drainage problems will need to be repaired before finishing. In many cases, leaks can be repaired by sealing cracks in the foundation’s floors and walls and applying a waterproof sealer. If drainage is an issue and water has backed up in your basement before, speak to a professional contractor about repairing drains or installing a sump pump to avoid future problems. While the ideal and desired condition for remodeling a basement is to have a dry basement, minor dampness can be offset with a dehumidifier. Major water problems however should be dealt with first.


The second most important thing to consider before remodeling a basement is the placement of ductwork and plumbing. If your hope is to completely, not partially, finish your basement, make sure you have headroom for proper ceiling installation. Most finished basements have lower than normal ceilings, but duct or plumbing placement may make it impossible to install a ceiling. Unless you can afford to have the ductwork or plumbing relocated, it may be more sensible to consider a partial remodel.

Once you have determined that your basement is structurally sound, dry, and will provide adequate headroom, you can then decide how to design your project. Consider what the space will be used for and whether you want to install additional walls to create separate rooms or create one big room. Be sure to take into account factors such as electrical outlet placement, cable television, and other wiring when determining wall placement.

Several types of building material can be used when remodeling a basement. When deciding what material to use, be it drywall, paneling, tile, carpet, ceiling tiles and so forth, decide whether you can afford to replace said material should water damage occur in the future. Some homes are more prone to water backup based on grade of the land, location of plumbing fixtures, drainage and sewage systems. If you feel water backup is inevitable, consider less expensive materials such as floor tile and paneling, which are also easier to replace in the event of damage.

Other considerations to take into account when remodeling a basement include the additional costs of homeowner insurance. You will need to notify your agent upon completion of the remodel and may need to add water and sewer backup to your policy at an additional cost if you do not already have the coverage.

Remodeling a basement is often a sound investment that will not only increase the enjoyment you get out of your home, but also its market value in the future. Consult with several contractors, even if you plan to do the job yourself, to get general ideas for cost, the extent of the labor, and overall design inspiration. Check out books at the library, visit internet sites, and look through magazines at home improvement stores to get further ideas for remodeling a basement. Your basement could be your home’s biggest hidden value.



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Post 1

If you are considering adding a bedroom in your basement remodel, you must meet code set by IRC (International Residential Code). The bedroom must have an egress window or door to the exterior. This means you must have a door or window in the bedroom that has direct access outside.

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