Basement Considerations

Basements are below ground level, generally have low ceilings, and are often the utility hub of a household. These factors provide a unique challenge to making a basement livable.

Moisture. A basement must be adequately moisture-free before remodeling, because water can cause mold, mildew, and damage to carpets and furniture. Money and energy spent on a remodeling project will be wasted if the basement is too damp. Find a reputable firm to fix potential moisture problems.

Lighting. Canister lighting is popular for basements, because it does not interfere with the already low headroom. Track lighting is another way to illuminate a basement while avoiding a single, bright, low-hanging light. If it is a daylight basement, think about adding or enlarging windows to admit light and fresh air.

Climate and ventilation. Whatever the intended use of the basement room, proper heating, air conditioning, and ventilation are essential. In some cases, a homeowner’s existing furnace and air conditioning system can meet heating and air requirements. In other cases, a dedicated heating and air unit may be required to condition the basement properly.

Supports. Support structures could disrupt the new space by creating unnecessary obstacles. Removing or relocating steel beams and posts is a difficult, and often impossible, undertaking. An easy way to incorporate these posts is to try hiding the supports within the new walls. Unsightly posts can be disguised with architectural elements.

Access. Meters, electrical panels, ducts, pipes, wires, and other utility hubs still need to be accessed. Drop ceilings are a functional way of retaining access to pipes and ducts. If a hard ceiling is installed, make sure to avoid blocking off access to valves and electrical panels. If walls cover meters or other essential points of access, be sure to include doors or removable panels in those sections.