Basics for Finishing a Basement

5 areas that need to be addressed early on

When you first moved into your house, chances are you had a lot of plans in mind for improvements. This may have included sprucing up the kitchen or adding a bathroom. You might also have thought about doing something with the basement. Perhaps turning it into another bedroom or something unique like a movie theater? But now, all this time later, it still sits as you found it: dank, dark, and little more than a place to store your junk. Want to finally change that?

Like a lump of clay waiting for a sculptor to create something beautiful, your basement could be transformed into something spectacular. Finishing a basement does take a lot of work, however, but the results are always worth it. When you’re ready to get started, these are the areas you should first focus on:

1. What you’ll use it for

Okay, now that you’re committed to creating a finished basement, the first question has to be what exactly you want to do with it. While you have lots of options, there are some things to think about that could affect your decision.

Because natural light may be hard to come by, if you want to create that extra bedroom, just be sure the person who will use it is comfortable with this ahead of time. On the other hand, the lack of light could be ideal for a movie theater or media room. (On a side note, if you intend to create a bedroom, for safety purposes, you will need to have a window big enough for someone to exit out of. This is also important if you plan to sell your home in the future; without a sizable window, you won’t be able to call it a bedroom.)

2. How bad is the moisture?

Pretty much every basement has some degree of moisture, and it can run the gamut, from damp walls to actual puddles. When moisture isn’t a big problem, it can usually be taken care of fairly easily.

Caulking holes and cracks and/or using a waterproof masonry sealer often do the trick. Bigger issues, however, will probably need more in-depth solutions. If water shows up in your basement every time it rains, you have to figure out where the problem lies and make sure it’s taken care of before doing any major work.

3. Climate control

Sometimes you get lucky with a basement; in the summer it may be nice and cool, and in the winter – if the house uses a furnace – it’s warm enough. However, in many instances, hot weather creates a muggy atmosphere, and when it gets cold, the basement may be like a walk-in refrigerator. Fortunately, there are some solutions.

Electric baseboard heaters are a good way to heat things up. It’s also possible that your HVAC ductwork runs through the joists on the above floor, which you’ll be able to use in the basement. If this isn’t the case, putting in a ductless mini-split system may be a good option.

4. Storage considerations

Right now, it is very possible that you have quite a bit of stuff in your basement. And while some items almost certainly can be thrown away, sold, or donated, you probably want to hang on to a lot of it. This means that you’ll need to find a temporary spot to put it all during the work on your basement, and then a more permanent place when it’s done.

While you can just shove it all back down there, that sort of defeats the purpose of the remodel. But instead of filling your attic and closets, the better idea may be to keep part of the basement as it is. If it’s large enough, you can opt to finish part of it, which gives you the best of both worlds. Putting up a wall can separate the finished and unfinished sections from one another.

5. Lighting things up

As mentioned earlier, most basements don’t have much (or any) natural light coming in, so this means lighting will have to be added. And with a low ceiling, this can pose a challenge. But before you think about just bringing in lamps, there are some other choices. Recessed ceiling cans are a great way to provide illumination. Adding lighting sconces in different spots can also be very effective. Even bright-colored walls can do wonders for lightening up a darker space.

Finishing a basement can be a daunting challenge, which is why it’s always worth hiring skilled and experienced professionals. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with Tandem Contracting. For a quote, call us at 973-864-3100 or fill out our online contact form.

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