People tend to forget that their basement can be a functional part of their home. Few rooms will prove more useful, whether you use your basement for storage or as a place to relax and spend quality family time. If you're thinking about renovating your lowest floor, you'll be glad to learn that it can be more cost effective than adding another level or an addition to your home. You can do much of the work yourself, easily and safely, but leave complex electrical or structural work to the professionals. Here are some things to consider before getting started:
Step 1: Decide how you want to use it
First think about your family's needs. If you’re like most people, you’ll have no trouble coming up with ideas for filling the space: a bathroom, home office, game room, family room, craft or wrapping area, gym, guest bedroom or rental unit with a small kitchen and eating area. When deciding on its use and a design, think long-term for rooms such as playrooms and design them so as children grow, you can easily transform the rooms into something else.
Step 2: Draft a detailed plan
Develop a detailed plan of what you want your finished basement to look like, right down to furniture placement, so you have a good idea of how it will all fit together. Spend enough time thinking about all of the possibilities. It's much easier to make changes on paper than when the walls are up.
Step 3: Develop a budget
The next step is coming up with a budget. Although you've probably been thinking about money since you first decided to renovate, now is the time to figure out exactly how much those plans will cost. As a general rule, it's best to rough in all of the connections now for later installations and deal with things such as adding air vents and replacing or enlarging windows first before drywalling, installing the flooring and adding lights. Save decorating and furnishing expenses until the end.
Step 4: Check for moisture problems
Check for signs of excess moisture in your basement. Look closely at the foundation walls and floor and repair any cracks that may be contributing to the problem (using a dehumidifier will also help during the summer months). Make sure your current heating and air conditioning system can accommodate additional capacity. If they can’t, address that issue before you begin renovating.
Step 5: Examine the structure
Supporting posts, low ceilings and floors that are below the municipal sewer line can pose challenges to your basement-renovation project. You may want to consult the pros, who can provide a thorough inspection and recommendations.
Step 6: Decide on the design
If major structural changes are required, consult an architect well before scheduling work. With a professional plan, your renovation team will have a clear blueprint from which to work, meaning fewer costly oversights. Even if you're confident about your design and decorating skills, consult a professional at The Home Depot before purchasing items such as window treatments and paint.
Step 7: Consider your electrical needs
Once your plan is in place, consider the electrical needs. If you're replacing a fixture here and there and you have electrical skills, you may be able to do it yourself. When you need more complex projects completed, you can hire a pro or check out the services offered by The Home Depot. When choosing lighting, take note of any dark areas. Because basements generally have few or small windows, you’ll likely need extra lighting.
Step 8: Choosing your flooring
Generally, flooring is installed after structural alterations are complete and under-floor heating is installed. There are many options when it comes to choosing the right basement flooring. First and foremost, cracked floors must be repaired before you install any type of new flooring. Waterproofing the concrete may be necessary, too. Location is another consideration. Is your location dry, meaning your basement is fairly waterproof? Is the basement a subterranean or walkout? Determining the use will help you make an informed decision about the best type of flooring to lay.
Step 9: Select wall finishes
There are many options when it comes to finishing the inside of a basement wall. Determine whether your walls will require a moisture barrier before choosing the finishing material. One option is to simply paint the concrete or masonry surface. This is a simple and economical method, since you can use inexpensive water-cement paints. No moisture problem results, but there is no insulation value in a coat of paint. In most cases, walls are finished with materials such as plywood or gypsum board applied to furring strips. Insulation can be added to decrease heat loss.
Step 10: Choose your furnishings
After you've already settled on a decorating style and color scheme, you can choose the furnishings to complete the look. Take precise room measurements and a copy of your floor plan when shopping for living room furniture. If you’re going to use the basement as a recreation room, consider how a bar or pool or ping-pong table will fit into the layout.
Step 11: Consider home technology
If you’re planning to install a home-theater system that may require special wiring or outlets, make sure the electrical work is done at an appropriate stage in the renovation. By taking the time to think through the necessary planning, your basement-renovation project should be a rewarding experience, transforming the space into a room you'll enjoy for years to come.