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finished basement kitchen

Your unfinished basement is an untapped asset to your home. Here are some ways to approach this value-add home improvement project.

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If you have an unfinished basement, you have an uninviting storage space that’s just begging to be turned into a warm, comfortable, functional room. A finished basement adds a lot of value to your home, and it’s easier than it sounds. Here’s how to do it.

Thorough plan

Remember, your basement can be anything you want it to be. Take some time to plan what form your finished basement will take and where everything will go. Will it be an entertaining space with plenty of seating or more of a personal retreat? Will it be your dream bar, a home theater, or an extra bedroom?

Once you decide how to transform the space, make a layout plan with proper measurements and estimated furnishing. Remember that you’ll need at least seven feet of clearance to meet average building codes. If you have less, the project may involve pricey elements like lowering the concrete floor.

Inspect condition

Most basements double as settings for equipment like water boilers and fuse boxes. Before starting any work in the space, inspect all equipment to make sure it’s in good condition. Also test moisture levels in the basement, which is as easy as taping a small sheet of plastic to areas where you suspect condensation and checking it over several days for visible water. This shouldn’t be a major issue as you will likely install moisture-proofing insulation regardless at a later stage.

Proper walls and floors

Most basements are too moist, even with insulation, for standard drywall. Look into mold-resistant paneling instead and make sure to wrap any exposed pipes in insulating foam before installing the panels. Many finished basement walls also include insulated stud frames for extra protection. For floors, opt for vinyl instead of wood as it’s also more resistant to mold and rot.

finished basement spare bedroom

Sound-proofing

Many basements don’t come standard with sound-proofing like other rooms. Make sure any finishing plan includes sound-proofing insulation for the ceiling. Any noisy elements like speakers or televisions shouldn’t be next to pipes or vents that go throughout the house, and they should rest atop noise-dampening mats.

Maximize light

Remember that a basement is primarily underground. If possible, make use of any sources of natural light available in the space, but know that the room will depend on electric lighting for most of the day. Plan for overlapping lighting so there aren’t dark or dim patches.

Electronic assistance

For a truly modern space, you’ll need to prep your finished basement for seamless electronics support. For Wi-Fi and cell phones, this usually means installing a signal booster so you get ideal connection speeds and reception below ground. Also make sure to have plenty of easily accessed outlets. An emergency generator or lighted power outage kit is essential for the eventual blackout.

A value-add project

The cost of finishing your basement will vary greatly depending on the size of the space and what you want to do with it. It can cost just a few thousand dollars, but it may cost as much as $30,000 dollars for extensive jobs. One thing’s for sure: it’s cheaper than adding on a surface room. For another, it’s space that you could put to better use, adding value, but also adding definition to what your home could mean to you in the future.

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.