If you’re lucky enough to have an unfinished basement in your home, have you ever considered converting that space into a bonus living area? With some diligent clutter busting and clever design work, you could add a whole new dimension to your home.
The possibilities. If you have an existing basement, would you make it into a kids’ entertainment room with game tables, a big TV and a sectional couch? What about a wet bar and entertainment area, or a bedroom with a bath? Look at the configuration, accessibility of electric and water supply lines, and sketch out your ideas. Get three contractor bids, and check their credentials before settling on one. Be sure to get the necessary permits and inspections lined up. Your contractor should help you with this.
Solve the cave effect. If your basement is chilly and damp, ask your contractor to inspect the perimeter walls to check for outside seepage. If necessary, get it sealed. You’ll cover the concrete walls with an interior wall and you don’t want moisture and mold growing behind it. Install heating and air conditioning ductwork. To keep as much space overhead as possible, install sheetrock as high as you can to preserve height. Drop ceilings aren’t recommended. Many basements have HVAC ducting overhead, so this could be a design challenge.
Windows. If your basement already has windows along the perimeter wall, how big are they? Do they allow enough light in to brighten the room? If not, can your contractor make them bigger? Good lighting is key to making a basement a liveable space.
Basement stairs. If the basement stairs are enclosed, consider ripping out the walls to open up the space. You’ll be amazed at how it expands the whole basement space.
Flooring and furnishings. Give careful thought to the flooring. Tile and hardwood floors are durable, but think about adding strategically placed area rugs for warmth. Add wall shelving, furniture and maybe a mounted TV. Whether it’s a bedroom, a living area or game room, make it inviting and relaxing.
Will my new basement add value? For future sales, a finished basement will certainly add value to the home. However, an appraiser will not include the space when calculating square footage. Only above-ground space counts as living space. Also keep in mind, for a room to be considered a bedroom, it must have a closet.
Adding a basement. If you are building a new house and would like to add a basement, ask an engineer to check the lot and plans. This assumes that you live in an area where the soil type is compatible with basements. If soil conditions are difficult, jackhammering or other strenuous measures may be needed. Additional costs are incurred for rerouted plumbing, adding windows and stairs, and other factors. If your motivation for a basement is added square footage, weigh the cost carefully against other options such as a ground-level addition or building up. Also, most building codes require a second basement exit, for safety purposes, besides the interior stairs. Either a large window or a full door with outside stairwell must be included in the design.