7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Remodeling a Basement
With so many home-improvement projects competing for your attention, which will you choose? A finished basement adds valuable square footage to your home, and historically has shown a high return on investment. More costly than many home-improvement projects, a basement finish–like any investment–will be something you’ll want to research and thoughtfully consider before embarking upon. Use these questions to help guide your thought process in deciding if the timing is right to begin a project of this magnitude.
1. What is your home worth?
Keep in mind that it’s not wise to over-build for your area. In other words, if your home ends up being the biggest, fanciest home in your neighborhood, you may not get a full return on your investment when it comes time to sell, as a home’s value is affected by the value of the surrounding homes. If, on the other hand, you plan to stay in your home for the foreseeable future, perhaps this isn’t as much of a concern to you.
2. How common are finished basements in your area?
This could work in your favor, if you don’t end up over-building for the neighborhood. All things considered equal, if there are a few like homes for sale in a neighborhood in a similar price range, and one has a professionally-finished basement, which house do you think will sell first?
3. How is the structural integrity of your home?
Older homes can sometimes have issues requiring attention prior to the start of construction. One such concern would be the structural integrity of the home, which should be checked and verified as sound by a structural engineer prior to the start of any work. Additionally, older homes should be checked for the presence of lead-based paint and asbestos–both of which require professional abatement by a licensed contractor.
4. What are the moisture issues and what will it take to address them?
As basements are underground and have concrete floors and walls, all are prone to attract moisture to some degree. Identify the source(s) of any incoming moisture and perform proper sealing to address the leakage. Methods of sealing out moisture include the application of a masonry waterproofing product, which–like paint–is rolled onto bare concrete walls. Caulking around basement window frames ensures that moisture cannot enter the basement there.Examine the exterior landscaping of your home to ascertain that water drainage is flowing away from the foundation of your home. Installing a French drain system can also help direct water away from the home. Addressing all moisture concerns prior to beginning a basement finish safeguards your investment.
5. What are the building codes in your area for finishing a basement?
If you aren’t familiar with local municipal codes, hire a contractor who is! For example, some areas require different and varying amounts of insulation in exterior walls. Be sure to hire a contractor who builds with proper permits and inspections in place.
6. How much space do you have?
What do you hope to gain by finishing your basement? If you only have a few hundred square feet, the cost may prove too high for the amount of extra space you’ll get in return. If, on the other hand, you have space to finish a bedroom, bathroom, and rec room, then you’ve just added significantly to the living space and overall enjoyment factor of your home!
7. How will you use the space?
What do you find yourself wishing most often that you had space for in your home–is it room for guests, a hang-out space for the kids, or a quiet crafting or office space for yourself? Do you need more storage or more living space? Thinking through your desired end uses will help determine your priorities.