Basements often become the catch-all space for life’s extras but remodeling an underutilized lower level can be a terrific way to gain extra living space. Your basement remodeling dream may include visions of a British pub, home theatre and game room, or a place for 50 of your closest friends to enjoy the big game, but it makes a lot of sense to slow things down and consider some important elements of basement design that may affect what you can and can’t do with the space.
If you’re excited to get started on your own basement remodeling project, we’re certainly not here to rain on your parade! But, here are some of the more practical details that go into remodeling a basement.
Basement Remodeling Tips: Finish Your Basement the Right Way
Of all home remodeling projects, the challenges of creating an inviting room out of an often dark and dreary space may be the greatest. One of the biggest design hurdles to overcome? Tastefully concealing the infrastructure and HVAC systems that occupy most home’s basements.
Other things to consider:
- Plumbing. If you’re adding a new bathroom, wet bar, or laundry room, more piping will need to be run. And in homes where the main drain is above the basement floor level and not underground (or in a basement without drainage provisions), you’ll need to install an up-flush system to pump the water from the shower into your home’s main drain. It’s simple science: gravity means water runs down, so if you want it to go up, you’ll need special equipment.
- Natural light. Often in short supply, it is possible to bring more natural light into the basement so it doesn’t have a cave feeling. Building an egress window, which is required by code, lets more light pour into the room. Add more than one and you increase the effect. An open floor plan allows for better light flow, so if your current plan involves installing walls, consider which areas don’t really need natural light and design accordingly. If you’re worried about darkening the room for optimal screen viewing, there are retractable blackout screens available.
- The ceiling. There are always ducts, pipes, and wires to conceal in a basement remodel. This usually means dropping the ceiling height in certain areas, but decisions made in the design phase can create a space where it’s barely discernible, giving the room a much more finished look and feel. In the past, basement remodels typically included drop ceiling tiles, but many people don’t care for this look and prefer drywall. That’s not a problem, but if there’s flooding from an upstairs bathroom or kitchen, any repair to the basement ceiling will require cutting out the affected drywall and replacing it.
- Ceiling height. The International Residential Code, with some allowances, requires basements to have at least a 7-foot ceiling. Regulations aside, anything lower than that also makes the space feel cramped and uncomfortable. How will the finished basement be used? If you’re including a home workout area, you’ll probably need plenty of headroom to comfortably exercise and use equipment like a treadmill. There are several ways you can gain more height in areas of the basement where it’s needed, and our designers are happy to show you how to do it.
- Waterproofing. Flooding is a big topic with basements for good reason. It happens! So, planning ahead is a smart design decision. Things to think about are flooring that can handle getting wet and having one or more floor drains installed. If and when your basement has any flooding, you’ll save by not having to replace carpeting, furniture, and any other fixtures or furnishings that get waterlogged.
- Lighting. Good lighting design is essential to any successful basement remodel and our designers, Megan and Brittany, are skilled at getting the room the coverage it needs. Recessed wall and pendant lighting should all be used to complement natural light. Energy-efficient LED lights are a popular choice, as are undercabinet fixtures. Put as many lights as possible on dimmers for better control.
Regardless of what your basement will ultimately become, dealing with the practical considerations at the design stage is crucial to a great finished room. At J.T. McDermott, we love helping our clients tap into the unlimited potential of their home’s basement. To learn more about how to get started on the basement of your dreams, schedule a conversation with us today. We look forward to meeting with you!