Remodeling your basement is a cost-effective way to add more living space to your home. After all, the basic structure is already there. You don’t have to worry about pouring a foundation, framing or adding a roof as you would with an addition. However, there are several things to consider before you begin your basement project.

Handy Tips & Hints Before You Start

1. Address any water problems first.

Underground spaces are subject to dampness and water issues. Make sure that you address any such problems before you begin your remodeling work. If you’re unsure whether you have water issues, hang plastic sheeting over one wall. Wait a few days. If there is condensation on the inside of the sheeting, you have water problems to address before you move forward.

2. Finish the ceiling.

Nothing says “basement” more clearly than exposed beams and ductwork. If you don’t have room to add a drop ceiling or dry wall, then paint the ductwork and pipes so that they look like part of the design scheme.

3. Consider windows.

Just because it’s a basement doesn’t mean you have to forgo natural light. You can dig out window wells to accommodate larger windows in your downstairs area.

4. Add lots of lighting.

Basements can be a little gloomy. Banish that darkness with plenty of artificial light.

5. Choose your flooring carefully.

Most basements have a concrete slab floor and that will work well with most any type of flooring. However, some types are less well-suited to basement conditions. For instance, hard wood tends to expand and shrink with temperature changes and is not a good choice for basements. Opt for laminated flooring with a wood look instead.

6. Remember to add storage.

No home has enough storage and a remodeling project is an ideal time to build-in more storage spaces.

7. Be realistic.

Remember that your new basement space can’t be all of the things that all of your family members want in a new space. Before you get started, sit down together and decide on the elements that are the most important to all of you.

8. Keep it open.

Basements tend to feel closed-in. The ceilings are often lower and there are fewer, if any windows. Avoid adding to this feeling by keeping your new basement space open and airy.

9. Don’t box in your mechanicals.

In most homes, the furnace, water heater and air conditioning system live in the basement. Leave these units in the open, at minimum with two to three feet of clearance for safety and easy maintenance. It’s also a good idea to consult an HVAC professional to make sure that you don’t have any carbon monoxide leaks before you start using your basement as a living space.

You Don’t Have To DIY

10. Lastly, Consult a remodeling professional.

Although some parts of a basement remodeling project can be done solo, it’s best to call in a professional to assist you. Professional contractors know the code requirements, how to get the necessary building permits and what materials are best suited for basement construction, among other things.