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Before You Say

Before You Say "We're Finished!" Address These Five Important Basement Issues!

If you’re living in a home with an unfinished basement, it is likely that you use that space for one thing and one thing only… storage. While the basement is a fantastic place to store the things you rarely use, you may also feel like that space is somewhat wasted or underused square footage in your home.

The obvious solution to maximizing the square footage that lies underneath the main levels of your home is to finish the basement, right? But, how can you turn that often not-so-appealing area into your home’s preferred place?

As opposed to the upper levels of your home, when it comes to basements, there are a few specific issues to address:

Lighting: Since you’re dealing with an area that is predominantly underground, it can be difficult to provide adequate lighting to a basement renovation project. Planning is paramount when it comes to effectively utilizing any natural light you have. As far as a basement layout goes, it is probably OK to keep the TV viewing area a little darker, but if you’re planning to create a social atmosphere, ample lighting is a must. To make the space more appealing, it is a good idea to have artificial basement lighting that reflects upward.


Water: By nature, basements may be prone to a little water leakage. So, before you decide to finish your basement, it is important to check for dampness. Whether you’re building a new home or renovating the basement in an older home, it is a good idea to have a sump pump and floor drain installed. It is also important to seal any cracks in the walls and select moisture-resistant drywall when finishing the walls. Some people may prefer to drywall their ceiling, but ceiling tiles may be easier to install and replace in case of any leaks.


Exits: Specifically when it comes to adding an extra bedroom in a basement, exits are important and they can be a challenging issue to address. Basement windows are not typically equipped for egress, but they must be for most insurance companies to recognize an extra bedroom in a finished basement. Adding extra windows may not be the easiest task in finishing a basement, but they certainly enhance safety and lighting issues.  


Obstructions: On the main levels of a home, you likely do not have to deal with finishing around a hot water tank or heating and cooling system. But, in the basement, you certainly do. While you’re probably not going to create a “mechanical room” to show off to guests, you may want to hide this equipment from the rest of your renovation. Experts suggest leaving two to three feet of clearance space around your mechanical systems.


In the basement, you’re also probably contending with pipes, ducts and wires that you would like to conceal. If possible, consolidate those obstructions to one area so that you’re not constantly working around them.


Depending on your final basement plans, you also may want to purchase a cell phone signal booster or wireless network extender. Your underground oasis may seem a little undone if you can’t update your status or Facetime with friends down there.


Temperature: Regulating a comfortable temperature in a finished basement can be a challenge also. Your existing HVAC system may or may not be able to handle the additional square footage and a professional will be able to determine that for you before you proceed with your renovation plans. If you are in need of additional heating and cooling help, a fireplace, wood-burning stove or baseboard heating system are all great options for basements.

It’s obvious that taking on a basement finishing project can be a bit of a challenge, but the end result and additional square footage can be a dream come true. As with any home renovation project, it takes proper planning and some extra attention to detail to turn your basement from a simple storage space into your home’s favorite place!