Tips to Prepare for Basement Finishing

Many people have bought a home in the best location only to find that, with addition of children, their beautiful spot is becoming too small. At first many of these homeowners build storage areas in the garage, basement and attic but then these areas become clogged with sports equipment, toys and boxes of clothes. The next step for these beleaguered parents is usually to look for a larger place within an area that they have called home many years.


But this choice becomes more daunting as the hunt for a new home begins. All of a sudden there is the reality that schools may have to be changed and that their child's favorite extra-curricular activities will have to be altered or even curtailed. And this is not to mention the act of moving and the disruption of life for maybe months on end.

Sometimes they are successful and can get a place within their cherished realm. However, now comes the part where they have to sell the first house in order to get the new, larger one. So, they luck out and the timing is perfect for walking from one property to the other. Or they face the chilling thought of carrying two mortgages and maybe dumping their old house at less than its value just to lighten the burden.

Remodeling Options for Space

One of the most popular options is to renovate the home to accommodate the enlarging family. A contractor may be called in to go over the options. Because in reality this includes adding a story to the home, adding and addition to the home or turning to a basement finishing contractor. In other words, they can up, sideways or down.

Unlike the other two options going up into the attic requires demolition work. This is basically having a contractor and crew take the top of the home, shingles and frame, and add another one story home on top. This requires the family to move out for period of up to a year and a contracting bill that might equal or best the mortgage for the original home.

An addition requires building “a cottage” out of the original structure. This means pouring a new foundation and, if required, a basement. Utilities have to be brought in laterally - pipes, conduit and ducts - and, in many cases the roof line is altered to accommodate the new portion of the home.

Digging for Dollars

The basement is the most logical place to increase your living area for so many reasons:

  1. Location: It is already there.
  2. Infrastructure: The pipes, ducts and conduit are already there.
  3. No moving: Your family does not have to leave during the basement finishing
  4. No Structural Changes: House walls nor roof line is changed.
  5. No Mess: The renovation waste and dust is kept in the basement area.
  6. Equity: Your home has increased in value.
  7. Revenue: The space can be constructed so that it can become an apartment or an in-law suite after the kids have gone.


  1. What Do You Want? The first order of business is to find out exactly what you want in a basement remodel. In other words is there going to be a bathroom, kitchen or both? This will determine the infrastructure considerations such as water, sewer, heat and electrical load.
  2. Draw It: Now take some graph paper and draw a rendering to scale. This will allow you to visualize the project. For those of you who have a computer there are free programs you can download which will enable you to add cabinets, etc.
  3. Basement Finishing Contractor: A basement finishing contractor is skilled at making the subterranean are of homes into livable space. You should get 3-4 estimates for this project because it not only helps you define the cost but will solidify the plan that you have. Each contractor will have a different spin on how the project should be done.


Clean: The basement needs to be decluttered so you can see where you are going to be working. If need be use a storage rental place. It should be an empty shell before you begin.

Moisture: Being below the ground a basement is a portal for moisture. Cement by its very nature is porous and will absorb water from the earth around it and allow it to infiltrate the air. This is why a basement always seems cool. To alleviate this problem the walls should be sealed and any cracks filled.

Mold and Mildew: If a basement is old there is a chance that there is some mold and mildew. This is especially true if the walls are already covered with wallboard or another covering. The contractor will see that this is taken out and the walls scrubbed with a fungicide. Then the walls will be sealed. However, there are a few old school contractors who might want to put plastic vapor seal on the walls and floors before insulating. If there is the standard vapor seal protecting the fiberglass batts from inside moisture then there will be an air lock which will promote more mold growth. It is best to look to a closed-cell foam spray insulation. This will not only seal the cement it will not provide any surface for mold to grow.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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