Top Ten Basement Renovation Tips for the Average Homeowner

Are you thinking about finishing the basement, considering an expansion of your living space without the enormous expense of a home addition? These top ten basement renovation tips will help those planning to hire a renovation contractor, as well as those going the DIY route. From floor to ceiling, a successful basement renovation starts with careful planning.

Tip 1 - Good Lighting is Vital

Basement living spaces require above-average lighting design to ensure a bright, comfortable area. Windows tend to be smaller, which results in lower levels of natural light. Supplement by including plenty of lighting wired to various switches that allow maximum flexibility.

Dimmer switches also help you to control lighting levels, while pot lights provide good illumination without protruding into the space. Consider using wall sconces in stairways and track lighting to provide light in those dark corners.

Tip 2 - Maximize Window Size

Although this may not be possible in many suburban homes, try to maximize window height and width for the optimum natural light. Think about window location when planning the room layout, placing the largest windows in lounging areas and bedrooms.

Most municipalities have standards regarding the location of bedrooms - only rooms containing a window that meets minimum fire code requirements can be used or designated as a bedroom.

Tip 3 - Insulate Against Noise

Noise from the floors above often disturbs the peaceful setting downstairs. Include insulation in the basement ceiling to reduce the noise level and create a warmer, comfy space to relax. Enhance a drop ceiling with insulated panels or add fiberglass batting or insulation to the floor joists when installing a drywall ceiling. Both of these options cost very little when compared to the value of a quieter living space in your basement.

Tip 4 - Save Money With Lightweight Drywall

When it comes to drywall, paper is what matters. To ensure your basement wall remains strong and durable, invest in drywall made with thick paper. But you can save money on your basement renovations by searching for lightweight drywall that still provides that strong paper covering.

Talk to representatives at your local building supply store and take a look at product samples. You want drywall that will resist tearing, yet still retain a manageable weight and price point.

Tip 5 - Underlayment Provides Protection

Closed cell underlayment and other moisture-resistant underlayment designs provide the necessary protection against moisture in your basement. Concrete is naturally porous, and moisture continually seeps into your basement over the entire year. Closed cell underlayment and other water-resistant products installed under basement flooring act as a barrier against this moisture.

Protect the organic materials from mold and mildew by keeping moisture away. This type of underlayment is required with carpeting, and highly recommended when using engineered hardwood or other types of flooring suitable for below-grade applications.

Tip 6 - Remember to Rough-in for Electronics

Most homeowners include a certain amount of electronics in their basement living space. It makes sense to rough-in the wiring for all electronics you plan to include in the basement, such as home theater systems, speakers, home computer networks, gaming systems and more.

Rough-in for speaker wires, network cables and power to each of the systems during the framing stage, well before drywall limits access. Try to plan for the future and consider what type of electronics will dominate this space. It may help to run large conduit to accommodate additional wiring later on.

Tip 7 - Research Government Rebates and Grants

In many cases basement renovations improve the efficiency of your home heating system, assuming the proper type of insulation is installed. Many state governments are currently offering rebates and grants to homeowners upgrading or improving efficiency levels.

Find out about these funds before the design stage, as stipulations may dictate what type of material is installed and where. It's in your best interest to insulate this space well, creating a warm, comfortable atmosphere, but you may need to use a specific type of insulation or concentrate on certain areas in order to qualify for the grants or rebates.

Tip 8 - Use Mold Resistant Building Materials

Experts often recommend mold resistant materials for below grade applications, simply because the moisture level in your basement cannot easily be improved. Using a dehumidifier can help, but installing treated materials to combat the growth of mold helps you take an active role in protecting your family.

BluWood or stainless steel framing can be used in place of standard spruce framing, eliminating one of the main mold footholds in basements. Consider investing in mold resistant drywall as well, or using manufactured wall panels to reduce the risk of mold in your basement. If flooding occurs, mold is almost a foregone conclusion. But using these building materials will help to decrease the risk of mold issues in standard conditions.

Tip 9 - Use Licensed Contractors

Many elements of basement renovations fall within the skills of a DIY enthusiast, but a skilled professional must handle others both for safety and aesthetic reasons. Any electrical and plumbing work in your basement reno should be completed by a licensed tradesman, and homeowners are wise to hire licensed contractors for the balance of the project. Protect your investment and improve the value of your home with skilled trades.

Tip 10 - Consider Air Quality

Create the most comfortable living space possible with air filters. Furnace units work throughout the whole home, but require a decent investment. If your budget cannot accommodate a large unit, consider a standalone air filter for the basement to keep things in peak condition. Tabletop models and floor units are reasonably priced and operate with little fuss, while making a noticeable difference in the air quality.

Check out these ten tips when you are planning basement renovations. From lighting and noise reduction to underlayments, mold issues, hiring the right contractor and wiring your electronics, these simple instructions will make your basement renovation more attractive and valuable.

Posted by: diana
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