Top 10 Tips for Basement Renovations

April 22, 2013

Handyman PaintingFinishing the basement provides valuable living space without the need to extend your home’s footprint. Basement renovations can often be done without disrupting your lifestyle and most often, your entire family will enjoy the extra room. But before you jump into a basement reno, check out these top 10 tips and plan well.

1. Ceiling Height Matters

Older basements were not necessarily designed as living spaces. Measure the maximum ceiling height in your current basement, and make note of ductwork locations. You may need to dig down or move the ductwork to create a more comfortable space.

2. Let in the Natural Light

Basements tend to be dark and gloomy, but with the right design and properly sized windows, a finished basement can look bright and cheerful. If the windows are cramped or not well placed for natural light, consider installing larger windows by knocking out the foundation wall and digging a window well.

3. Design for the Future

How will you use the space in the near future, and how will that use change over time? It may make sense to plan for a children’s playroom right now, but be sure your basement renovations allow the area to transform with your family. And don’t forget about resale value. Design and build a finished basement that works for today and tomorrow.

4. Understand Local Building Code

Local building codes include fire safety standards regarding exits. Find out if your region requires bedrooms or living spaces to be fitted with an exit and note how large that exit must be. Often including a decent sized window in your basement design will work.

5. Tackle Any Water Issues Now

Water issues, including leakage and drainage problems, must be handled before your basement renovations begin. Foundations cracks must be patched or repaired, drainage troubles solved and any mold or mildew removed and the area treated. When in doubt, have the basement professionally inspected to be sure that all water issues are detected and solutions put in place.

6. Inspect for Hazardous Materials

Some older homes contain hazardous materials that may be disturbed during a basement reno. Lead paint and asbestos are two common, yet dangerous materials found in older houses. Invest in a thorough inspection and deal with this issue before it becomes a bigger problem.

7. Remember That Sound Travels

Consider installing soundproofing insulation during your renovation, to cut down on noise traveling between the upper and lower living spaces. Specially designed ceiling tiles work for a drop ceiling design or sound barrier fiberglass insulation can be added above a drywall ceiling. This element is important for basement bedrooms and helps to make the entire space cozier.

8. Deal With Posts

Most basements include support posts. Removing those posts by adding a large support beam is an expensive, invasive process. Consider how you can work around the posts with a bit of creativity. Incorporate storage units or place furniture next to posts to help them blend in, or think about allowing them to stand out in an attractive way with decorating tricks. Browse through home design magazines for creative ideas and be bold with your basement posts.

9. Keep Lighting Simple

Your design has made the best use of natural light by adding or enlarging windows, now you need to design artificial lighting that will enhance the space without getting in the way. Recessed lights and low profile wall sconces often work best, and can be easily installed during the renovation. Floor lamps require outlets, so be sure to include plenty of plugs along the walls and incorporate power and lighting for an entertainment center.

10. Keep Colors Neutral

Avoid bold or dark colors in a basement renovation, but don’t be afraid to let your palette loose. Pastels and lighter tones of your favorite colors work best in this space and tend to reflect light, making the area appear larger. Dark colors absorb the light and could make your new basement feel cramped. Consider the wall color, as well as the tones used in furniture and flooring.

When done well, a finished basement adds value to your property and lifestyle. Follow these top ten tips on basement renovations and get the most from your new basement design.

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