The benefit of finishing your basement is bringing function to an underutilized space. Most basement floors are crammed with boxes of rarely used things. Seasonal décor, childhood toys, and unread books clutter the concrete floor. In no time, the clutter rises to the ceiling, and no one remembers what is in those precious boxes. The first step in reclaiming the basement is releasing the clutter.
Clutter is just stealing space. Insects nest in cardboard and mold creeps into boxes. Old curtains, clothes, and blankets are susceptible to moths and mildew. Then, obsolescence applies to most electronics within 2 years. Why listen to scratchy records when high quality YOUTUBE videos are freely at your fingertips. Cameras and slides do not have the versatility of a Smartphone camera. Books can be read on a cell phone. A picture is worth a thousand words and taking a picture of treasured objects will free up space. Recognize that clutter is an unnecessary problem.
As you sort through your clutter have three categories. First is garbage. These are broken, ripped, stained, or non-working items. Second is garage sale. Sell everything that may have value to someone else. Anything that is left can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Items of historic value can be donated to a local museum or academic archive. Third is precious. This is the smallest category. Buy a good quality trunk and place the precious items with sentimental value there. When the trunk is full, you are done saving things.
Develop a storage plan for seasonal items. Artificial trees can be stored with lights and ornaments still attached and slipped into a stand-up storage bag that fits in a closet or a corner. Decorative flags can be rolled and placed in a linen closet. Pool equipment does well in the outdoor shed. Stacking storage containers will limit the floor space occupied by boxes, and clear containers make it easy to find items when the season rolls around.
Give the basement a good cleaning when it is empty. Look for mold patches or water leaks that need to be addressed. Clean the walls and floor with a mop and bucket of water mixed with a mild cleaner. Don’t use ammonia, bleach, or any highly acidic substance on polished, painted, or stamped floors. Use a good duster on the ceiling. Measure the space and map out where the furnace and hot water heater are located before making your floor plan.
A finished basement will have a return on investment of 70 percent. Adding living space to your home like a guest room and full bathroom will raise the home’s value. However, you can also add a small efficiency kitchen and create an income producing apartment or in-law suite. Millennials see the basement space as a home office or two offices his and hers. Boomers lean toward family game rooms and home gyms. Basements make fantastic teen spaces with pool table, mocktail bar, and screening room. Regardless of the function, the basement is a versatile space to incorporate into the lifestyle of your family.
Whatever the design plan is for your basement, remember energy efficiency. Unfinished basements with insufficient insulation allow air to escape and the loss of heat efficiency will cost you money. For humid basements, susceptible to mold and rot, a dehumidifier will dry the air making it easier and cheaper to heat and cool. To lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint, a finished basement will lower your energy bills 30 percent.
Think about the storage and organization needs. Built in cabinets under the basement staircase will free up the floor space. Speaking of floors, expect moisture when planning the floor design. Perform a moisture test before deciding if you need to waterproof the basement. Working with a professional will save you money and frustration. Sometimes the basement water leaks can be a loose gutter at the roof line, drains that back up when it rains, or inadequate soil around the home’s perimeter.
Research local building permits and building codes for basements. Each community has different restrictions on ceiling heights, number of exits, and room sizes. If structural changes are planned, then the building plan needs to be pre-approved. Working with a professional basement remodeler will ensure all requirements are met.
Concrete floors painted with waterproof paint is popular basement flooring. Flooring needs to be water-resistant to be durable in a basement. Vinyl flooring that looks like wood planks is easy to install and can be bought with a built-in moisture barrier. Tiles are easy to clean if there is a major water leak, but costly to install. Area rugs are the best option for warmth. Carpet tiles would need to be removed and replaced if saturated. Stone floors are attractive, water resistant but need annual maintenance to prevent flaking off stone.
Ceilings in basements can be easily spray painted in white or light blue to add reflective light and brighten the basement. Finishing a ceiling will reduce the ceiling height. A drop ceiling is a cheap and easy option for covering floor joists and exposed pipes. It allows repair people to have access to the pipes and wires overhead. However, drywall takes less room than a dropped ceiling and creates a finished look that is better to converting the basement into living space, but it eliminates access to pipes, ductwork, and utilities overhead.
Working around obstructions is the biggest challenge in remodeling the basement. Heating ducts, plumbing drains, water pipes, gas lines, and electrical wires are attached to the floor joists overhead. Using a professional basement remodeler will turn the obstructions into integrated design features that reclaim the basement as living space.