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Four Steps to Finishing Your Basement

Dehydrate the space

The worst place to hang out is a damp and drippy basement. Inspect your basement first to be sure there are no obvious pools of water or leaks. A few more tests include:

Basement fix up

  • Inspecting for water or insect damage in the structure of the basement.
  • Repairing cracks in the foundation or around pipes; any crack wider than a pencil should be inspected by a structural engineer.
  • Taping squares of plastic sheeting to the ground and walls to see whether moisture builds up in a couple weeks; if it does, check the foundation again.
  • Checking to make sure the ground slopes down and away from your house.
  • Checking the carbon monoxide ventilation system.

Planning your space

Your basement needs the right balance of natural light and darkness for the entertainment space. A lounge should have sunshine, but a TV room should be dark for best viewing.

  • Be wary of adding too many rooms and doors — you don’t want your basement to feel like a string of rooms.
  • Bedrooms must have a window from which to escape in an emergency.
  • If you’re installing a bathroom or lights, be sure plumbing and electrical work is up to code. Indeed, all structural changes may need local approval.

Special rules for basements

With all the extra moisture, coolness and heavy-duty structure in your basement, the same rules aren’t going to apply below ground as they do above when beefing up the walls. Take note of the following guidelines — and make sure your contractor knows the rules, too:

  • A vapor barrier is key to a moisture-free basement; lay it on the walls and floors for a few days, and check for moisture before continuing.
  • Place your vapor barrier and foam insulation over the foundation walls and the stud frame, and install drywall on top of that. Your insulation may come with a vapor barrier on both sides.
  • Mold will grow on standard drywall, so use wall panels meant for basements.

Decorating the results

Once all the behind-the-scenes work is done, the fun part can begin: the interior! Here are some recommendations for a beautiful basement:

  • Consider adding dropped ceilings to provide easy access to electrical and plumbing lines. Check out the options at your local home improvement store; you’ll be surprised by how many handsome options you have.
  • Recessed lighting helps ceilings seem high.
  • Baseboard heating keeps your basement warm, and the rising heat warms upstairs, too.

Leave the space around your HVAC unit and water heaters unfinished so that it follows code. Plan on two to three feet around the equipment for the people who will be inspecting and repairing it.

Once you’ve finished your basement, you’ll feel like you won a marathon. Now you can fill it with your guests, kids and pets — if you allow them in your nice, new area!

Working to Get a Good Deal on a Home Purchase

Is This Your Situation: Working to Get a Good Deal on a Home Purchase? Homebuyers want to shave off as much money from the sale price as possible, and home sellers want to squeeze every last dollar they can out of the deal. So how do you know whether you’re getting a good deal on a home in today’s market? Here are 6 factors you must consider to help you get a great deal on your new home.
Working to Get a Good Deal on a Home Purchase
Start with a CMA

CMA, which stands for Comparative Market Analysis, is your first step in determining whether or not you’re getting a good deal on a home. Take a look at homes similar to the one you’re interested in to get a sense for how much the one you are considering buying is worth. Make sure that the homes you look at are in the same neighborhood as the one you’re interested in and are in similar condition. Don’t compare it against a foreclosed home if the one you’re interested in isn’t in foreclosure (and vice versa).

If the home you’re after is priced at or below the market value of comparable homes, then you’re most likely getting a good deal. If it’s above that, then it’s not as much of a steal.

Is the seller throwing in any “extras”?

A good deal on a home comes in lots of shapes and sizes. See what the seller is willing to offer to sweeten the deal. If the seller has agreed to help pay for some or all of the closing costs, that should be factored into whether you’re getting a good deal. Are they offering an allowance to pay for repairs and/or upgrades to the home? That could save you money in renovation costs, if any are needed.

Do the math: What’s the LP to SP ratio?

Have your real estate agent help you calculate the LP:SP, which simply means the ratio between the listing price and the sale price. If you’re getting a good deal, the ratio will be more than one, meaning that you are purchasing the home for less than its listing price. However, if the ratio is less than one, try to negotiate a better deal with the seller.

Is it a seller’s or buyer’s market?

You must consider whether you are buying in a seller’s market (meaning that homes are selling for more than their listing prices) or a buyer’s market (homes are selling for less than their listing prices). If you’re buying in a buyer’s market, you’re in luck! You are more likely to find a bargain this way. However, if you’re house-hunting in a seller’s market, it will be trickier to get a good deal because sellers have the upper hand. In this case, any extras that the seller is willing to throw in will help make the deal more attractive to you.

What season are you buying in?

Keep in mind that the season you’re buying in has a huge effect on home prices. Summer is usually the most expensive time to buy. There tends to be a lot of inventory during the summer months, but competition drives the prices up. If you really want a deal, hold off buying until the fall or winter, when prices can drop dramatically.

Appreciation opportunities

Appreciation opportunities should also be factored into whether you’re getting a good deal. If you’re buying a home way below the asking price but it’s located in a depressed area with little development, your home won’t appreciate much over the years. However, if you find a more expensive home but the area is “up and coming” with lots of new development, it could be worth the higher asking price because the home will become more valuable in the years to come. Signs of appreciation opportunities include new developments such as malls, parks, bike paths and — sometimes — residential buildings.

To ensure you’re getting the best deal on a home, reach out to us today!