Unfinished Basement: Making the Most of the Additional Square Footage

You purchased a home with an unfinished basement. At the time, you probably had lofty ideas for what to do with this space. Now, months (or years) later, this space is still just sitting there, not being used to its full potential. It’s time to make the most out of all that additional square footage.


There are some basic fears we all share. Fear of the dark, weird sounds, monsters under the bed and going down in the basement are a few of the most common ones. Don’t let your basement be the subject of your family’s nightmares. Finish that unfinished basement and make the most of that extra space in your home.


What can you do with an unfinished basement?


Create an indoor playground for the kids – children are basically messy by nature. An unfinished basement can be an ideal area to put them and all their stuff. That makes it easier to keep the main areas of the house looking neat and tidy.


Make a home gym – you don’t need fancy furnishing and expensive finishes if you choose to use the area as work out space. Equipment, weights, mats, etc. can all be stored and used in your basement. Then you can be free to be your stinky, sweaty self away from everyone else.


Turn it into a work room – got tools? You can turn your unfinished basement into a place for all your projects and hobbies. And free up space in your garage for your actual car.


Prepare it for finishing – if you are currently saving money to finish your basement, or looking for the right contractor, there are things you can do in the meantime to get it ready. Things like adding doors to the outside, putting in some heating/cooling vents and doing plumbing work now will make it easier to finish down the road.


Finish it – the possibilities are practically endless. However, for most people, this is not a DIY undertaking. Hire a skilled contractor to help turn your unfinished basement into a finished masterpiece.


Ideas for an unfinished basement


When you find a home with a basement, it can feel like hitting the jackpot. If it is an unfinished basement, this is an extra bonus. You get the extra square footage without paying too much more and you get to make it whatever you want. The price of the home is often reduced because an unfinished basement may be a tough sell. You yourself may even be a little unsure of what you will do with it. The following ideas may help you decide.


  • Deluxe home spa
  • A peaceful sanctuary
  • Basement pub or sports bar for you and your friends
  • Wine cellar and tasting room
  • Man cave or girl grotto
  • Movie theatre and entertainment room
  • An athletic court or a putting area
  • Music stage


What does it take to turn an unfinished basement into a finished one?


It’s quite easy for a previously comfortable, spacious home to become cramped and awkward. Kids getting bigger (or moving back home), elderly parents needing care, or other life changes can require the need to build or tackle that unfinished basement.  Just remember that this is not a minor task and there are many things to keep in mind before and during the project.


Get the proper permits

If you are simply painting or sealing your basement walls, no special permission should be needed. On the contrary, if you are building your basement from scratch, new construction typically requires some sort of approval. Adding electrical wiring or plumbing or building new walls within your concrete ones also needs authorization. For example, there are likely local codes to determine factors such as how many electrical outlets must be installed and who is allowed to perform the work. Some people believe that because it’s a basement and no one can see what you do to the inside, they can ignore this phase of the project. However, this is not a step you want to skip. Failure to get the right permits has dire consequences. On the low end, you may have to pay a hefty fine. In extreme cases, they may make you remove all the work you’ve had done.


Pay special attention to the walls

In most cases, your basement walls are concrete and surrounded by soil. This is the perfect condition for moisture to get in through cracks or even in the concrete itself. That can make your basement damp or humid. Before performing any work, you must be sure the walls are dry; otherwise, you could have mold and numerous other issues later. You can test this yourself by taping a bit of clear plastic to your basement wall. The next day, take it off and see if it’s wet. A qualified contractor may need to waterproof your basement walls by fixing cracks, installing a drain under the floor or using a masonry sealant. You also need to be sure to use the right materials, including moisture-resistant drywall, treated wood and foam board insulation. There are also steps you can take to direct water away from your foundation, such as putting in new gutters and downspouts or adding landscape features.


Time and money

Don’t expect to have the finished basement of your dreams in a week. Managing expectations will help make the process go smoother. For a professional contract team, the project may take up to 45 days. The cost can range from $6,000 to $20,000, depending on the size and scope of the project. Thankfully, the return on investment can be as high as 70 percent. While you may experience some extra noise, traffic in and out of your home and a bit of a disruption for your family. In the end, when you gain all that usable square footage, you will find that it was worth the investment and minor inconvenience.

A qualified contractor – to make sure the job is done right and avoid headaches; it’s wise to find a reliable contractor to handle it. They will have knowledge about rules and regulations and offer warranties on the work. If you are considering work on an unfinished basement, give Tandem Contracting a call.

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