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!

Starting Any Home Remodel? Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin

Thinking of remodeling your home? A home remodel can be a great way to upgrade your home so that it includes all the features that you have been dreaming of; it is also a major project that should not be undertaken on a whim. Before you start seriously planning your home remodel, think about the answers to these three big questions. This process can help you keep your remodel on track and allow it to be completed on time and within your budget.home remodel questions

Big Question No. 1: What Is Your Budget?

Before you start thinking about anything else, you will need to determine the budget for your home improvement projects. This will help you decide which features you will incorporate in your newly remodeled home and which you will skip in order to cut costs. Once you have decided on a budget, you can start pricing different options and decide which contractors you will hire and which rooms you will include in your home remodel.

Big Question No. 2: What Is Your Timeline?

Once you have determined your budget, you will have to decide what kind of timeline you are working with. When would you like to start on the home remodel? When would you like everything to be done? While the best-laid plans sometimes do not work out, it is a good idea to have a realistic projected timeline in place before you begin construction.

Big Question No. 3: Will you stay in the house during construction?

This is another factor that many people neglect to consider until the last minute. Some home remodels are easy to live through, but others can cause a huge disruption to your lifestyle. For example, a master bedroom renovation can be more disruptive than giving your laundry room a makeover. (Although there is no such thing as a convenient home remodel!)

Each option has its own pros and cons. Staying in the home makes it easy to keep tabs on the contractor’s progress. You will be able to track the progress each day and know early on if something is not working out the way you had hoped. The downside of this, however, is that you have to live with the dust, noise and constant interruptions in your schedule. Leaving for the duration of the project can be a far more peaceful option, but rental costs can add up fast.

Each option has its benefits, so consider your family’s lifestyle and budget carefully before you make your final decision.

Once you have determined your budget, timeline and plans for accommodations, you will be ready to start talking to contractors and exploring your options. This is an exciting process that can have very rewarding results, so make sure that you have everything planned ahead of time so that it will go off without a hitch.