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finished basement in white as home office

A Quick Guide to Remodeling Basement

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A basement has multiple functions. It’s not just a space where you keep most of the things you rarely (or never use). It’s also a utility area where your washer and dryer may be installed. If you live in a state where tornadoes are a likely occurrence, a basement serves as a place to hole up until the weather calms down. So the space doesn’t have to look like it’s made for gathering dust and pests.

A basement renovation makes sense if you’re looking to add equity to your property. It’s also a good investment if you have limited interior space because a finished basement can be an extension of your living space. It could even be turned into another bedroom, given the right plan, design and construction.

So how does a basement remodel go?

What Costs the Most in a Basement Remodel?

finished basement as living space
Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

If you’re worried about costs, start with a budget. The national average for remodeling a basement space is about $21,541. But your budget could be less or more, depending on what you envision for your basement transformation. On the low end, basement remodeling costs about $4,000 and on the high end, you may spend $50,000.

The kind of work you want done and who does them affect what you’re going to spend. For example, a basement remodeling that uncovers water damage will mean more money whereas a remodel that only needs more natural light to make it livable may not.

Special additions like a wet bar or a bathroom further add to the budget. So if you’re working with a small budget, manage your expectations for what your new basement will look.

For most remodeling projects, labor takes up most of the cost at nearly 40 percent. Although some areas could be done on your own, most basement improvements will require a professional contractor. Never do a DIY if the job includes electrical wiring, plumbing and structural problems. Doing so could mean costly mistakes that not only force you to spend more to correct but also add to your timeline.

Basement Transformation: How to Make it Look Good

Once you’ve figured out a budget, think about what that money could do and which would contribute to the home’s resale value. If you’re not looking to place your property on the market, consider what remodeling will improve your lifestyle.

And how do you determine the right answers?

Basement space

How much space will you be working with? If your basement is too small, a tiny bedroom or a craft space for the kids could work and a home gym may be cramped. From the size of your basement, list the potential uses it could serve to guide your remodel project.

Building codes

Before you break ground or knock out a wall, find out the basement building codes in your area. Any structural or electrical change must comply with building codes to ensure the safety of the basement. Every county will have a different one, and the plans you submit will let them know if you’re following those building codes. Otherwise, your basement remodeling plan may be rejected, pushing back your timeline.

Inspection from a contractor

A contractor’s expertise and experience will help you determine the biggest problem areas of the basement. A remodel will last only if the underlying issues of the space are uncovered and resolved. These issues may include:

  • Pest damage
  • Water damage
  • Rot

Only a licensed contractor will be able to tell you if such problems exist in your basement. They’ll have the equipment as well to identify issues you may not be aware of, for example, a radon test kit will tell you if the basement is a death trap.

If the problems are not fixed before finishing the basement, it will not be a livable space. And you’ll have wasted money on the construction.

Quality materials

A basement remodel lasts if the materials you used are of good quality. The basement ceiling and walls must be fitted with sturdy materials. But quality doesn’t always have to be pricey; some have affordable alternatives that are also going to last long. The right contractor will be able to inform you if some materials have economical alternatives, helping you save money on your basement remodeling.

How a Finished Basement Can Be Cheap

basement renovation
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Basement spaces can be more than just a storage space. With the right plan and contractor, your basement remodel could be a valuable home improvement investment. But how do you do it on the cheap?

Don’t do it all

Basement remodeling can be done in stages; if you have money only for one side of the room, do just that. Unless you must use the space immediately, remodel just a part of the space. Finish the rest when you’ve put together enough money.

Finish a small area by designating it as, for example, the home office or the bar. As for the unfinished parts, clean it out and keep it organized.

Choose cheaper alternatives

You can remodel for less and not have to sacrifice on appeal of the space. For example, instead of the pricey stone materials as accent on walls, try stone veneer. Their not only lighter in weight but easier on the pocket at $10 per square foot whereas natural stone costs about $30 to 48.

You could also try sourcing used brick for ambiance without the big bucks and reclaimed wood for durability without the high price.

Decorate with unique items

Instead of putting in new tables and chairs or a sofa, find bargain stores that offer used products at good conditions. Shop for unique pieces to elevate and customize the basement, making it truly inspiring as a living space.

Use professionals to stay up to code

Finally, never cheap out on labor. Paint the walls and install trims or do woodwork, but leave the electrical, HVAC, plumbing and framing to licensed pros. Mistakes in basement renovation aren’t just going to cost more money, but they could also leave the space unsafe.

It’s Worth the Investment

Basement remodeling is worth it. Just have the right plan. Come up with a reasonable budget. And use the right contractors for major changes to this typically unseen and unused living space. Get it right, and remodeling a basement may just add value to your property.

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