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What To Consider Before Finishing Your Basement

By on Jul 22, 2019
What To Consider Before Finishing Your Basement

Most basements are blank canvases that beg to be finished, remodeled and most of all, utilized. Basements have a lot of potential, but as with any large home project, considering the pros and cons of finishing your basement are very important.

However, deciding how to utilize the space best can be a risk. It's an investment of time and money. Here are a few facts and tips about basement remodeling to help with this big decision.

If you've been considering a basement remodel, you've come to the right place. Not only can ImproveNet provide you with tips and inspiration for your project, but we can help you connect with pros in your area for free! Connect with basement contractors today.

Finished Basement ROI

Because finishing a basement can be costly in time, money, and energy. The first thing you need to know is whether or not it is a good return on investment. Of course, not everything comes down to time and money; there has to be some consideration for quality of life. While studies show that upon resale, you will only recoup about 70% of what you spend on finishing the basement, there are other returns that rank just as high. Finishing all that valuable space in your home can improve your lifestyle when your family has more room to stretch out, a fun place to entertain, expanded space for the kids to play, or more room to have friends and family visit. Another great reason, according to the National Association Of Realtors, is that 81% of homeowners said they enjoy their home more and have a greater desire to be home after completing their basement project.

Weighing The Cons Of Finishing Your Basement

Finishing your basement will most likely increase your home’s value, but there are some negatives that should be considered before finishing your basement. Obviously, the biggest con is the expense of a basement.  Get a ballpark figure by using ImproveNet’s cost estimator. Check into the appraisal value of your home and the value of the houses around you. Make sure that you’re not putting so much money into your home that you can’t at the very least recoup 70%. Of course, if this is your forever home, it is probably worth it, regardless of ROI.

Another downside to finishing your basement is that you are going to have to pay higher taxes on your home because your usable square footage has increased. Also, with more lights, more heat and a/c, and more livable space, your utilities are going to rise. You may also want to consider that you may be limiting the amounts of storage you have available in your basement when you turn that space into a living area. While this may not be a dealbreaker for some, it should certainly be considered when determining if a basement remodel is right for you.

Basement Trends

You aren’t alone in thinking about finishing or remodeling your basement. There are a lot of cool ideas and designs out there that other homeowners have created to inspire you and will quite possibly have you falling in love with your home all over again. Consider including a home theater, a full-scale gym, a girl cave with a lovely wine bar, a sports room, or how about a whole guest suite that could second as an AirBnB space. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

Basement Remodeling Steps

Once you’ve made the decision to move forward, there are a number of steps you can and should take in order to ensure that your project is filled with celebrations and not regrets.

Step 1: Get An Appraisal & Inspection

Get an appraisal. An appraiser can you help determine how much money you should put into your basement and still get a good return upon resale. Also, an inspection will help you to determine what kinds of work will need to be done in order to do the job correctly and help you avoid the critical mistakes a number of homeowners make when finishing a basement. An inspection will help you identify whether or not: your foundation needs repairs, there is rotting in the floor joists, there are moisture issues, and whether the windows are in working order or need replacing. Once the problems have been identified, you can also select the proper materials you will need to prevent mold and leaks between the concrete and your new drywall. 

Step 2: Layout & Design

Determine what your goals are and where you want things to be. You will have to take any load-bearing walls and beams into consideration when creating your design. Also, you have to consider the height of your ceilings. To adhere to code, your ceilings have to be 7’ to 7’5” depending on where you live. If you don’t have enough room for that height you can consider underpinning which is where the concrete floor is removed and the ground dug out for increased height. Sound daunting? The good news is this step helps to remove and fix any old issues with your foundation. Then you will need to consider: where the walls will go, where the doors will be and which way they will swing, where to put the plumbing-drains and fixtures, and most importantly, where those outlets for the movie projector and sound system will go! There are a number of self-help tools online like and where you can design your basement yourself.

Step 3: DIY Or Hire A Contractor

Once you know exactly what you are dealing with in terms of time, budget, material costs, energy, you can decide whether this will be a do-it-yourselfer or you have the money in your budget to leave it to the experts. In larger remodels, there could be some projects you might be able to DIY, but for anything that has to do with electrical, waterproofing or plumbing, I suggest you contact a contractor who can help you get the job done right.

If you are considering using a contractor, let ImproveNet help you find top-ranked professionals in your area.

Some basement projects you'll want to consider are:

  • Waterproofing: Make sure your foundation has all its cracks repaired and problem areas fixed or they will wreak havoc on your brand new drywall. Adding a layer of waterproofing material between the concrete and drywall is important.
  • Sump Pump: Contact a plumber if you are considering a sump pump to minimize damage in case of flooding.
  • Insulation: Add insulation to any exposed pipes. This will help with any potential freezing and heat loss during extreme cold and will also lower your energy costs. 
  • Framing: There are a few different methods of framing your walls, including DriCore interlocking framing systems or the traditional method of wood studs and insulation. 
  • Electrical: Make sure to plan out where your entertainment areas will go and the number of outlets you will need for all of your sound and video equipment.
  • Drywall: Try using USG's Sheetrock Brand Mold Tough Gypsum Panels or Georgia-Pacific's nonpaper-faced DensArmor Plus High-Performance Interior Panels because unlike standard drywall, these finishing materials are more water-resistant and when tested received the best scores for mold resistance. The next step with the drywall is tape and texture.
  • Painting & Finishing Work: This could be baseboards, crown molding, doors. Now is where the fun and your personality comes in. The molding and baseboards can really help a basement feel like a main floor so don’t scrimp here. Consider a crown molding on your kitchenette and pretty trim around the doorways. With paint, you might consider a similar color palette as the one on your main floor to make it feel like an extension. Or, consider colors that brighten up what might be a darker space. 

Whether to finish a basement is a difficult decision; the would you’s, should you’s, could you’s are tough calls! But, whatever you do, add quality of life into the equation because the extra space could be quite valuable to your lifestyle!

For complete transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through the links below will result in a small commission for ImproveNet, at no extra cost for you.

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