As your family grows, converting or finishing your basement into living
space not only opens up your house and increases room for work or play,
but it can also add significantly to your home value. You must exercise
care in the design of your basement, ensuring structural integrity before
you pick up a hammer. A successful finished basement relies on adequate
electrical, plumbing, and heating/cooling components, as well as sound
drainage and moisture control.
Potential Basement Usage
Before you begin, select a design for your basement that accommodates
existing walls and space while meeting your needs. Your basement must be
dry, have sound existing walls, and adequate head room. There are many
possibilities for a finished basement, including:
- Entertainment. As your
children grow, a finished basement can be a playroom for the kids and
their friends, or a game room for adults. If you're planning an
entertainment center, check first to see if your basement has appropriate
telephone, cable, satellite, broadband, or other electrical wiring.
- Office. Do you or your
spouse need a quiet home office space that will be out of the way of your
children? Basement finishing may be able to give you the privacy you need
to be productive while the children play upstairs. To be as comfortable as
possible, you may want to beef up your utilities for power and air
- Exercise. With the
obligations of work and caring for your children, it can be difficult to
make time to run to the gym. A finished basement can include a work-out
area that benefits both the adults and children in your home. Consider
installing sports carpeting and mirrors. If you're lucky, you may be able
to meet heating and cooling requirements with a simple vent to your
floor-level living space.
- Guest Room. Did the birth
of your youngest child mean the end of your old guest room? Do you have a
live-in nanny or relative who should have some private quarters? Design
your basement as a new guest room or small apartment. If you're
considering adding a bath, you'll need to know if there's electrical,
water supply, and drainage available.
- Utility or Craft Space.
Do your children need space to work on special projects for school? Do you
need a larger laundry center, or a place for crafts and hobbies of your
own? Remodel your basement to accommodate these needs, making sure you
have adequate water and power to get the jobs done.
Finishing Your Basement
You may want to engage a basement contractor to inspect your home and help
with the design of a new basement. Flooring, lighting, insulation,
heating/AC and dehumidification systems may be of paramount importance to
A room dedicated to a single use is easier to design and complete. But if
you hope to use your finished basement for laundry, entertainment, office
work, or as a separate bedroom, be sure to embrace all the necessary
plumbing, electrical, flooring, and insulation concerns. If you're
converting your basement to an apartment or room to let, be sure you
design it to your local and state building codes as well as plan
independent meters to measure utilities if you don't want to include them
in your rental fees.
About the Author:
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune
500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft
Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.