5 Tips for Finishing Your Basement

Dated: 06/06/2019

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More people are choosing to stay in their existing home, expanding into unused space rather than going through the trouble of selling and buying again. If you’re in the same position, it might make sense to expand your living space by finishing your basement. The good news is that since the structure is already there, a basement remodel can be accomplished by a homeowner with limited construction knowledge.

Serious Considerations Before Starting Your Finishing Project

Basements are interesting spaces because at least some part of them are underground, holding back tons of soil and rocks. The fact that they don’t collapse inward is a testament to the engineering involved. Even though the basement concept is brilliantly designed, depending on the age of your home, other issues can quickly turn your project into a gaping hole for money to disappear into.

Before you even start picking out materials, check that the moisture level is low enough to not ruin the materials you’re going to be using. Make a rough check for both seeping water from walls and humidity inside the basement with 24 inch by 24 inch squares of heavy clear plastic sheeting. Tape them to the walls in random spots, then wait two weeks. If there’s water between the plastic and the wall, you’ve got an unsealed foundation. If the water is only on top in the form of condensation, you need a dehumidifier stat.

If there’s either kind of moisture present, you’ll also want to choose materials that can tolerate some amount of exposure to water, just in case your sealing and dehumidifying fail you.

1… 2….3…. GO!

It’s time to get that remodel started. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, though. Keep these five tips in mind as you go through the process.

  1. It takes the time it takes. It may seem like your basement remodel is dragging on and on, but remember that you’re creating an entirely new livable floor in your home. This is no small thing. Take your time, don’t cut any corners or else you’ll find yourself fixing those things you thought were unnecessary the first go. Remember that excellent prep work is where you’ll spend most of your time during any construction job.
  2. Check for and clean up damage first. Bugs, rot and mold are all enemies of good basement remodels. Sure, you can cover them up, but that means that you’re covering up ongoing damage. You need to get a pest inspector out, they can help you determine if there are bugs or rot. Mildew and mold are more apparent, most aren’t dangerous, but they do indicate active moisture issues. Regardless of the issue, you need to fix it now.
  3. Remember that your furnace needs to breathe. Furnaces and water heaters need plenty of room air in order to properly combust to generate heat. Even though electric furnaces and water heaters don’t necessarily need oxygen, they definitely need space so home pros can get around them to work. When you plan your new basement layout, keep this in mind. Adding a door with a vent to a utility closet will also help with those gas appliances.
  4. Create trapdoors for access. Once all those utilities are sealed behind the wall and inside the ceiling, you can’t get to them without causing major damage. This is why it’s so important that you keep shutoffs, important electrical junctions and other utility access points accessible. You can make these access doors blend into the design of your basement or make them extremely obvious, depending on what works best for you.
  5. Plan for the worst. Your basement is dry and has never been wet, but with record setting rains in many areas of the country, it’s a good idea to use materials that can survive minor flooding. Instead of using laminated plank flooring, for example, choose tile because it doesn’t matter if it does flood. If you have room for an emergency sump pump, have one installed to protect your investment.

When you’re planning to refinish your basement, there are lots of things to keep in mind. Check and double check your plans, just to be sure that they’ll work well with the space you have to use. It’s a huge job, but if you’re well-organized and patient, it should be no problem at all.

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Elizabeth Monarch

Elizabeth has been serving hundreds of families in the Louisville area for over 16 years. As the rock & founder of the Elizabeth Monarch Group, Elizabeth strives to inspire clients on their home buyin....

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