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8 Questions to Ask Before Remodeling Your Basement

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8 Questions to Ask Before Remodeling Your Basement
4 min. read

Image: Kelly MacDonald / Shutterstock.com

Remodeling your basement is a great way to add space to your home, while potentially increasing its value. But it’s important to make a proper plan and budget to ensure that your dream renovation doesn’t become a nightmare. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 8 questions to ask before remodeling your basement.

How do you want to use the space?

It’s good to have a clear idea of how you want to use your basement in the future. In this way, you can draw up accurate plans and budget properly for the materials, equipment, and furniture you’ll need. There are various things you can do with your basement:

  • A stand-alone living space: ideal for a granny flat or to rent out for a little additional income, it’s possible to convert your basement into a self-contained apartment.
  • Entertainment center: from a home cinema to a game room, or even a basement bar, the basement is the ideal place for an array of entertaining activities.
  • Home-gym: keep fit in the comfort of your own home!
  • Workshop or craft room: the basement is a great place to work on some DIY projects or arts and crafts.
  • Home office: escape the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house to the sanctity of your office. Great for working from home and delving into your hobbies alike.
  • Bedroom: another bedroom is always welcome with a growing family.
  • Kids’ room: a play area just for the kids!
  • Storage: create a smart storage space for all the things you don’t need on a day-to-day basis.

Do you have a plan for dealing with moisture?

Basements are famously damp and musty due to their subterranean nature. However, issues with moisture can be dealt with early on. Indeed, it’s essential to do so, otherwise you’ll find that your beautiful remodeled basement is soon going moldy. It’s best to consult an expert to see if you have any major issues, and to discuss how best to address them. In older homes, it’s possible you’ll need to add or repair a subsurface drain system. In any basement, the best practice is to at least install moisture barriers behind dry-walls and flooring.

Can your current utilities handle the extra load?

Depending on how you plan to use your basement, it’s important to check that things like the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems can handle the extra load. In some cases, you may need to upgrade your current setup to cope with extra demand. This is especially true when creating a self-contained living unit, but may apply to other uses as well.

Do you know the local codes?

Before you start with your master plan, it’s essential to check the local codes and restrictions to be sure that you’re actually allowed to make the changes you’re planning. In some areas, certain work must be carried out by a qualified and licensed professional, while others place restrictions on how the space can be used. For example, a full kitchen may not be allowed as the stove prevents a fire risk. Be sure you’re up to date, or hire a contractor that is.

Do you need any permits?

You’ll almost certainly need a permit for remodeling your basement, so be wary of any contractor that says otherwise. It’s easy enough to find out for yourself if your project requires a permit. Simply contact your county office or town clerk to discuss the process of obtaining one as well as the cost.

How much does it cost to remodel a basement?

Each project differs depending on how much work is required, the current state of the basement, and the final use of the space. However, you can expect low-end remodeling projects to cost around $4,000 to $6,500, when renovating an already habitable space. Higher end projects that require more work can cost up to $45,000. The current national average however, is around $17,500 to $20,000.

Is it worth the investment?

Basement remodels are considered one of the cheapest ways to increase not only your home’s usable square footage, but also its value. On average, such projects see around a 69% return on investment when the home is sold, plus the years of enjoyment you get out of it!

Do you need to hire a professional?

Whether you’ll need to hire a professional or not again depends on how you’ll use the space, the condition of the basement, and any current issues with moisture, flood risk, etc. Simple renovations can often be completed by an experienced DIYer, but remodeling an unfinished basement can be a lot more difficult. Assess the situation and be honest about your own skills. If in doubt, it’s best to hire an experienced professional.

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