Basement Renovations

Key Items to Consider when Planning a Basement Renovation

By Mark J. Donovan

Renovating a basement is an excellent way to create additional finished living space within the home. Renovated basements can be designed to include a recreation room, an extra bedroom or two, a bathroom, wet bar, billiard room, or even a fancy wine cellar. If done right, a finished basement can become one of the most popular living spaces within your home.

Before committing to renovating your basement, however, it is important to first determine if your basement has any type of moisture level issues. If it does, you’ll need to first figure out how to resolve this issue before proceeding with the finishing of your basement.

If you don’t properly address the moisture issue problem, you’ll end up having mold and mildew problems that could eventually make the renovated basement unusable and unsafe.

When evaluating your basement for moisture issues, measure the humidity level in it. See if the levels are high. Also tape down a few small patches of clear plastic on the basement floor and let them sit for a day or two. If you notice droplets of water on the underside of the plastic you know you have a moisture problem in your basement.

Also, check the foundation walls and concrete slab floor for cracks. If there are any, fill the cracks and then seal both the floor and foundation walls with a waterproof basement sealer. If you know you have had water leaks in the basement you may also want to consider installing a perimeter drain around the outside of the foundation walls.

Another major consideration is whether or not there is sufficient ceiling height in the basement. Make sure the finished ceilings can be at least seven feet tall. Otherwise the finished basement may feel claustrophobic and may be a building code violation.

After you are sure you have addressed any moisture issues in your basement, and confirmed there is no issue with the basement ceiling height, you can then move on and begin to develop your basement renovation plans.

 Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet

As with any major home construction project planning is critical for success. Make sure you understand upfront what you want to get out of the basement renovation in terms of new living space. Also figure out what your budget is during the early planning process and assess if you will need to obtain financing.

Then sketch out your basement renovation floor plans. Make sure to include dimensional information. Also write down a list of materials to be used in the project. Alternatively, you can buy a home design software package to generate the renovated basement floor plans and list of construction materials. Home design software packages also enable you to see 3D views of your renovated basement design, and at the click of a button, allow you to view different materials and color options.

One key area of consideration when developing your basement renovation plans is how to finish the ceiling. Depending upon the ceiling height you may or may not be able to use dropped ceiling tiles. Dropped ceiling tiles allow easy access to plumbing fixtures and electrical wires in the upper level floor joists.

Basement renovations

If the ceiling height is marginal then you may need to drywall the ceiling. If you do, make sure to include access points to various plumbing fixtures or electrical junction boxes. Also, make sure to use moisture resistant drywall. As a matter of fact, plan to use moisture resistant drywall for the entire finished basement.

If your basement renovation plans include a bathroom or wet bar, then you will need to think about plumbing. Of particular concern will be the need to cut out sections of the concrete basement floor to run drain pipes. Moreover, you may need to install a pump-up ejector system to transport the waster water into the septic system or sewer.

Another major consideration when generating your basement renovation plans is ensuring adequate lighting in it. A basement can be dark and gloomy due to limited ways for natural light to enter into it. If you have the ability to add additional windows in the basement then do so. For example, often basements will have a walk out side, or framed crib walls along a portion of the basement. If so, incorporate a couple of windows in them. If there is no ability to include additional windows then make sure your finished basement plans include copious amounts of electrical lighting. For example, you may want to install recessed ceiling lights throughout the entire finished basement area.

Another major item to consider in your basement renovation plans is the finished flooring.

There are more options to choose from then you may think when it comes to finished basement floors. For example, if you have adequate headroom in your basement then you may be able to actually install a wood floor in your basement. You’ll just need to first install a grid of 2x4s on the basement floor. The 2x4s are placed on their flat side and in-between the grid bays rigid foam insulation is installed. Moisture resistant plywood is then installed over the 2×4 grid. Finished wood flooring, or even carpeting, can then be installed over the plywood. As an alternative to this type of flooring solution, you can also consider using ceramic tile.

By doing this upfront basement renovation planning, and considering these major topics, you’ll be able to get a clear idea of how much work and money will be required for your project. You’ll also have the necessary materials to obtain accurate quotes from basement remodeling contractors and pull the necessary building permits. Note, make sure you do pull permits. Not doing so could haunt you later on down the road.

A well thought out basement renovation project should only take a couple of months to actually construct. However, to ensure a successful outcome make sure you do your homework to find the right general contractor, or the various sub-contractors if you plan to manage the project yourself. Always check references and confirm with the state and Better Business Bureau that the prospective contractors you are considering are reputable and have no issues.

For more help on Basement Additions, see’s Basement Remodeling Bid sheet. The Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your basement remodeling project is done correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.

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