Your basement doesn’t have to look like a scene from a scary movie. You can rescue your basement from the spiders and their cobwebs and create a space that reflects the rest of your home. Before your mind wanders off to thoughts of decorating your new media room, home gym, or in-law suite, there are some things you should consider before remodeling your basement.

Is your basement dry? Because basements are built below the ground, they are more susceptible to water damage. A damp or wet basement can encourage mold growth and compromise the structure of your home. Examine your basement for condensation, seepage, or leaks. If you encounter any of these problems, a waterproofing company can provide a solution. Once you determine the source of your problem, a company may use a number of techniques to keep your basement moisture free, including installing a drainage system, an encapsulation system, a sump pump, crack sealant, or a combination of any of these methods. Experts recommend that homeowners who already use a sump pump also install a backup sump pump for added security.

Do you have any structural damage? While you’re being better acquainted with your basement, take note of any area that may be damaged. Can it be easily repaired during the course of the remodel, or will you have to repair it before the remodeling begins? Identifying these things before you begin your project may keep you from paying for unexpected expenses down the road.

Do you have an adequate ventilation system? Having a good ventilation system will also help to keep your basement dry. A ventilation system guarantees that air is properly circulated in the house, which could eliminate other common household problems like dust, drafty rooms, peeling paint, and hot and cold spots. Also, because basements often have a limited number of windows, a ventilation system will circulate fresh air to your basement, which will help keep your space from feeling stuffy.

What will you use your new area for? Think about what kind of space you would like to transform your room into. Map out the furniture you would like to add, and make sure you have enough room for each item. If you want to add a bedroom to your basement, make sure that there is an egress window installed in case of emergency. If you’re adding a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, you should carefully plan its location. Adding plumbing belowground can pose special problems that should be addressed head-on.

Are you following code? Once the proposed layout of your basement plan is finalized, have it reviewed by the county. If you hire a company to perform the work for you, it will be responsible for obtaining a permit and passing inspection. But if you go the DIY route, you will need to obtain a permit, have your plans approved, and undergo an inspection after you have completed the work. Having your work inspected by professionals will guarantee that your home is safe for your family.

Other Considerations

The following elements are part of what makes your basement as cozy as the rest of your home. As you have discovered, though, basements do require different considerations than the other parts of your home. Remember these key components when you begin to plan the specifics of your remodeled basement:

Ceiling. Because important plumbing and electrical system components are located in the ceiling of your basement, blocking access to them by adding a drywall ceiling may not be your best option. Experts recommend hanging a suspended ceiling with access panels that allow you to reach these areas easily in case of a plumbing or electrical emergency.

Lighting. Basements often lack windows, leading to limited natural light. To keep your basement from looking like a cave, experts recommend adding closely spaced recessed lighting. Because some basements have low ceilings, recessed lighting is often preferred over traditional ceiling fixtures that can take up more vertical space than desired.

Heating. Basements tend to be cooler than the rest of the house, and in order to keep your basement warm and cozy, add a heating system to keep the temperature steady. Baseboard heating units are excellent for basements, but research your options to find the perfect fit for your home. We discuss different types of heating systems as well as ways to improve your system’s efficiency in an EBSCO Research blog article.

Flooring. Experts advise homeowners against laying any flooring directly on the basement floor. To keep floors warm, they recommend installing a vapor barrier, insulation board, and plywood between the finished floor and the basement cement floor.

Remodeling your basement deserves special consideration. Once you iron out the details, the room you create will be well worth the effort.

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Sources: Better Homes and Gardens; ENERGY STAR; EPA; This Old House.

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