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  /  Educational   /  BASEMENT RENOVATION TIPS


Renovating or remodeling a basement is one of the hottest home improvement projects around, and with good reason. Not only does the average basement offer a great deal of extra living space, but a finished basement raises your home’s value significantly. In addition, it follows the current trend of saving money by entertaining at home!

Hot Basement Trends

Largely due to the current economic market, more homeowners than ever are looking for cost-effective ways to enjoy life without breaking the bank. Basement remodels can fit into this plan in many different ways.

Extra Living Space

For many households, children returning home after graduating college are a new reality. Grandparents and other extended family members living under the same roof are also on the rise. Even if you only intend it as a spare area for guests, turning your basement into extra living space is a very popular current trend.

The degree of separation and independence from the main house is up to you. Some homeowners choose to section off part of their basement and remodel that section as a bedroom. Others go a step further and add a full or half bath. Still others go all-out, equipping their basements with kitchenettes and separate living and sleeping areas. Options are limited only by your needs and budget. However, keep in mind that the more completely finished your basement is, the higher is raises your home’s value. In addition, if you take some extra steps (such as a separate entrance), you may even generate income by renting the space.

Wine Cellar

Unless you’ve been collecting for years and have a truly huge collection of wine bottles, a wine cellar is probably not going to take up your entire basement. However, for many homeowners, this luxurious touch is a welcome addition to any basement renovation. A properly climate-controlled wine cellar can be installed in a relatively small space, leaving you with lots of space left over for other renovation projects.

Game Room/Arcade

If your family enjoys games, a game room and arcade may be perfect for your basement renovation. Instead of spending money on nights out, you can host your friends in your very own home! This savings has made game rooms one of the most popular renovation projects in recent years.

As with any renovation, the degree of a game room or arcade is up to you. Some homeowners reserve a corner of the basement for a pool table. Others transform their basements into stylish arcades, complete with pool-hall quality tables, authentic lighting and an array of games such as darts, air hockey and video games. Many households also include a seating area centered around a large flat-screen television, with built-in storage for video game consoles and controllers. Consider how much money your family spends on gaming, and let that be your guide in determining just how far to take this renovation.

Children’s’ Play Area

Anybody who has lived in or visited a home full of boisterous, playful children knows just how loud they can be. This is why a play area is one of the most popular projects for a basement renovation.

Play areas can be very simple, with padded flooring and storage for toys. They can also be elaborate, with wall murals, video game consoles and kid-size furniture. As always, let your needs and budget be your guide.

Home Theater

Perhaps the most enduringly popular of all basement renovations and still extremely hot today, a home theater adds enjoyment and value to any home. By today’s standards, a large-screen television, surround-sound speakers and video equipment (DVD or Blu-Ray) are the most typical components. Don’t’ forget to add lots of comfortable seating for your family and guests, and think about incorporating gaming consoles if any household members spend a lot of time playing video games.

Common Basement Renovation Mistakes

According to experts, some of the most common basement renovation mistakes are the most costly. Here they are, along with simple tips on how to avoid them and save yourself (potentially) thousands in repairs.

Poor Moisture Control

Once you’ve finished your basement properly, its’ easy to think that you don’t need to bother with a dehumidifier. This is entirely untrue. Simply because they are below ground, even fully and properly finished basements have moisture issues. If your HVAC system supports it, consider having a moisture control element added. If not, simply invest in a high-quality dehumidifier which has been designed to effectively handle an area the size of your entire basement. To avoid giving mold and mildew a chance to take hold, set the dehumidifier to keep the area’s humidity at less than fifty-five percent. In addition to inhibiting mold growth, this setting is more comfortable, as well.

Using Porous Building Materials

This issue sparks a lot of debate. There are many home improvement professionals who believe that certain porous materials are safe for basement use, as long as they’ve been rated as “water-resistant” or something similar. However, experts disagree.

Porous materials include wood (even treated wood), drywall and fiberglass. What happens when these materials come into contact with water? Drywall releases fumes which can be extremely toxic. Fiberglass insulation loses nearly all of its insulating properties. Even worse, all of these materials provide ideal breeding grounds for mold and mildew.

Play it safe when renovating your basement. There are materials specifically created for basement use. These materials have been designed to withstand moisture, and even floods.

Poor Sump Pump Backup

A sump pump is what keeps excess moisture out of your basement. However, most pumps are electrically operated. Pumps are needed anything excess moisture is present, including pipe leaks. However, their most common use is during rainstorms. What do many rainstorms do? They knock out the power! Far too many homeowners have waded through dirty water, sadly gazing at their ruined basements (which insurance usually doesn’t cover). Don’t make their mistake. Back up your conventional sump pump with a battery- or generator-operated model in case the power goes out.

Ignoring Your Foundation

This is such a common mistake partially because it’s very time consuming and labor intensive. However, it is essential in protecting your new investment. After all, you don’t want your brand-new game room or home theater to turn into a damp, smelly, moldy mess within a few years, do you? Of course not. That’s why it makes good sense to waterproof your foundation before beginning your basement renovation.

There are exterior and interior types of foundation insulation. Consult a reputable contractor to determine which is best in your climate. Sometimes, both are used. Your foundation will need to be dug out in order to properly apply exterior waterproofing…don’t be intimidated. This step scares a lot of homeowners, but it’s absolutely necessary in order to obtain the highest degree of waterproofing available. Interior waterproofing is far less intimidating, and can often be done on a DIY basis.

Regardless of what type of waterproofing you need or how you go about it, remember that keeping your basement dry will let you get the most enjoyment…and value…out of your new renovation.

DIY or Professional?

The question of whether to hire professionals or tackle a basement renovation solo is one of the most common questions homeowners face, and usually one of the first. Everybody is looking to save money these days, and that’s wonderful. However, it’s important to understand just how drastically a basement renovation can go wrong before you tackle it on your own.

Unless you are highly skilled in every area of your renovation, play it safe and call in the professionals. Certain aspects are fairly simple, and can be done beautifully by a handy homeowner. These include carpeting, many wall treatments and surface work. However, when it comes to fundamental things such as foundations, studs, flooring, HVAC, electrical or plumbing work, let the professionals do what they’ve been trained in. You’ll likely save yourself headaches and time, and you’ll probably save significant money as well, since you’ll cut the chances of a near-future repair job.

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