No longer a damp, uninhabited storage area that they once were, basements are making their debut as luxurious, multi-functional living spaces. With a creative design plan and the help of an experienced design team, you can transform your underused basement into an in-law suite, game room, entertainment space, she shed, man cave, exercise room, or any other room that fits your needs. Are you ready to add valuable square footage to your home?
1. Avoid Creating a Maze of Small Rooms
If your existing basement is just one ample open space, consider yourself fortunate. There is a world of possibility in that openness. If the furnace is in full view or there are exposed plumbing lines or electrical panels, you can modify your space to hide these eyesores from plain view—partitioning these elements into a separate room or closet, for example.
A cluster of small rooms can feel confining, so be mindful to keep your basement floor plan as open as possible. Even if you’re creating an “apartment” in the basement, by keeping the main living space as spacious as possible you will prevent the space from feeling too cramped or claustrophobic. In a multi-functional space, consider half walls, movable partitions, pocket doors or sliding “barn doors” to separate areas, or use furniture arrangements to designate specialty uses.
2. Prevent Moisture and Ventilation
Depending on the age of your home and how it was constructed, an unfinished basement may or may not have sufficient waterproof protection under the slab or in the exterior walls. If it does not have protection, it is relatively easy to fix. The goal is to prevent moisture from seeping through the block or concrete, which results in mold or mildew. Ask about vapor barriers and moisture-resistant finishing materials, especially flooring, and choose your finishing materials carefully. Don’t overlook existing problems, inside or out, and plan to repair foundation cracks and exterior drainage problems before embarking on the interior remodel.
Consider the need for a central drain or a backup sump pump if your location is prone to flooding. Even a small amount of water can cause significant problems. Plan for worst-case scenarios and enjoy the benefits of extra protection in case of unexpected events. Always ensure that basement plumbing for a laundry room, bathroom, or wet bar is installed correctly, inspected, and tested.
Air quality is also a significant concern. A portable dehumidifier might suffice, but installing a dedicated HVAC system for the basement is a prudent option to maintain optimum air quality year-round.
Another consideration should be installing a Radon mitigation system. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s produced by decaying uranium. Radon is present in nearly all soils and very low levels of radio gas are found in the air we breathe every day. However, high concentrations can be dangerous so it’s important that radon levels get checked as part of a basement remodel. Radon mitigation is any process or system used to reduce radon concentrations in homes. Your design-build professional should always test for radon to see if a mitigation system is indicated for your basement remodel.
3. Light it up!
If your basement has existing windows or light wells on perimeter walls, take advantage of the light, but always plan to add sufficient electrical lighting to keep the new space well lit. Don’t skimp on electrical circuits and plan for the three types of room lighting: general illumination, task lights, and accent lighting.
Recessed can lighting is an excellent option for low ceilings. Make sure to use the proper IC-rated fixtures that don’t pose a fire hazard. Also, consider other lighting options in your design plan, such as track lighting, mood lighting and wall sconces for functional and aesthetic purposes. Be sure to light stairwells and fill in dark areas with table lamps or specialty task lighting.
4. Insulate and Soundproof
Everyone knows how annoying it can be to hear loud footsteps from above. It isn’t enjoyable to listen to peels of laughter from another room when you’re not a part of the fun. Proper insulation will not only help keep the heat in but help muffle sound transference. You may also consider ceiling sound baffles or specialty soundproofing, depending on how you plan to use your new basement space. It may also be necessary to reroute plumbing lines or air ducts to keep noise to a minimum.
5. Check Building Codes and Get Necessary Permits
There is no question that a finished basement adds value to your home, but only if the finished space complies with established health and safety requirements and existing building codes. Understanding fire and safety regulations, ingress and egress requirements, and governing restrictions about stair risers, treads, and handrails are important when you’re embarking on a basement renovation. The value of working with a design-build firm is that they bring this level of expertise to your project. All of the requirements are built into your design plan, to ensure you are compliant and your project passes inspection.
Specializing in Basement Renovations and Custom Design
With the help of the experts at Sweeney Design Remodel you’re only 4 easy steps away from creating the basement remodel of your dreams. Take a look at our portfolio of basement remodeling projects to get a taste of what fun, caring, compassionate professionals can do for you.
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