Is your basement a vast chasm of space, used only for the kidsí clothes or toys that should have been in a garage sale years ago? It is a drop-off site for 1980s home gym that is primarily used today to air out your stinky hockey gear?
Turning that basement into an enjoyable living space is not only beneficial on an entertainment level for you and your family, it is also a way to increase the value of your home instantly.
Choosing a style for your new living space is, of course, a very individual effort. Will it be a media room with a 60-inch HD plasma TV, or a games room with a regulation-size pool table, dart board and poker table? Perhaps a home office? Alternatively, it could be another comfortable living space for the family, offering a cool respite in the heat of summer days or cozy gathering around a fireplace on a cold winter night.
Whatever your reasons are for making this once void area livable, there are several things to consider. Depending on the type of room you have in mind, you will have either minimal expenses or massive costs.
However, there may be an energy bonus for the whole house when renovating a basement. An experienced contractor could inspect the area and make recommendations for insulation, caulking and air sealing that can make the entire home more comfortable.
Before you start any plans, one thing to do is completely empty your basement. This will give you an overview of what already exists, such as electrical outlets, plumbed in (but not used) pipes, naturally lit areas and that spot that needs help, and other pieces to change to make your dream room.
If the renovation is going to be major, a floor plan may need to be drawn, but to start, a simple piece of paper and good ideas will suffice.
Things to consider:
Electrical: Ensure you have ample power sources installed in your circuit box. Additional electrical outlets may need to be installed to support the various equipment or toys for your new space. Make sure you know exactly where you want to place electrical equipment now, and in the future, to avoid tearing out walls to add more outlets.
Plumbing: Will you have a bathroom downstairs? Additional plumbing may be required for a toilet or shower. If you are going to be using your basement as an entertainment room, you may want to consider installing a wet bar, complete with a sink and running water.
Lighting: Knowing how the basement will be used plays a large determining factor when deciding what type of lighting to install. Perhaps you may want recessed lights in the ceiling that can be dimmed for your home theatre, or bright lights for your recreation, hobby or playroom.
Waterproofing: Often basements are notorious for being damp and musty. If there is an existing leakage problem, the source must be found and repaired. Sealant paints are available for most basement applications, working to prevent moisture from seeping into the basement walls.
Windows: In many houses, basement windows used to be small, only letting in a modest amount of light. Now, thanks to modern safety codes, egress (exit or means of escape) windows are mandatory for any basement bedroom or living area.
Ventilation: Providing adequate basement ventilation not only makes for a more comfortable environment, but it can help with all around good health. If grade level permits, install several operable windows to increase air circulation. Adding a ceiling fan is another simple way to provide airflow, and either adds or removes heat from the living areas as the seasons change.
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