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What to Know Before Finishing Your Basement

A basement remodel is exciting for more reasons than one. To start, many people designate their basement as the “fun zone” with areas set aside for leisure (movie night, anyone?) and self-care. Some basement renovations even include the addition of wine cellars, exercise studios, game rooms, and more.

finished basement remodel wine cellar

Finishing your basement is a fantastic idea because it expands the square footage of your home while using an already existing space. It makes the most of an otherwise unusable area in your home. And it provides endless opportunities for making it your own.

As you embark on a home renovation project to finish your basement, keep these tips in mind.

Determine the Purpose

Before making important decisions like choosing a layout, building walls, or picking a type of flooring, you must decide what you plan to do in the space. For example, a media room is going to require different pre-planning and features than an exercise studio. How many electrical outlets will you need for a media room versus an exercise room, and where is the best location? Do you want the space to have a cozy, family-room feel? Do you want to break up a large space into multiple rooms? Do you want to add a bathroom? These are the questions you have to ask before you even start the basement renovation.

Consider an Inspection

It’s always better to know what you’re working with before starting any home renovation project. That’s where an inspection comes in. Foundation, plumbing or electrical issues on this level of the house can not only destroy your basement, it can cause serious issues throughout the rest of your home.

Some people avoid inspections because if there is something wrong, they don’t want to know. They’d rather turn a blind eye and pretend it’s not there. But if your inspection does uncover pricey issues, they’re still less expensive to fix right away than waiting for disaster to strike — like your upstairs bathroom falling into your newly renovated entertainment room because someone missed (or never found) a leak.

Obey the Codes

Each state has residential building codes that must be followed, even when renovating a basement. For example, Ohio code states that basements must be insulated from the top of the basement wall to the basement floor. But don’t worry about researching and understanding all of the building codes before finishing your basement. Your contractor should know the codes and how to follow them.

Make it Moisture-Free

There’s nothing worse then the vision you’ve been dreaming about — like that game room with an indoor putting green, pool table, and bar area — being ruined by water. Because they’re underground, basements are notorious for flooding, water damage, mold, and mildew. If you’re going to finish your basement, you have to protect it from moisture.

Check and fix any current water damage, then make sure your contractor takes the proper steps to insulate it from future water damage. They’ll want to install vapor barriers both behind the drywall and under the flooring. A moisture barrier is also a good idea to install behind the insulation and framing.

Check Your Electrical Panel

One thing that’s often overlooked among DIYers is the electrical system. As you finish the space in your basement, you’re going to add new electrical outlets. Can your current electrical system support the extra circuits required? For code compliance purposes, your contractor will want to make sure the electric system can carry the increased load from the finished basement.

Choose the Right Finishes

Picking cosmetic finishes like flooring types is a little different in a basement. While considering what you plan to use the space for, also consider the environment. Since they’re underground and near all of the home’s plumbing, basements are highly susceptible to mold, moisture and mildew issues. Water damage is the last thing you want, but should you get moisture in the basement, you probably want your finishes to be able to withstand it.

That’s why many people opt for flooring like vinyl, tile, or waterproof laminate instead of options like hardwood or carpet. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have carpet if you’re going for a cozy, family-room feel. But consider this when you decide which finishes you’d like to include in your newly finished basement, and ask your contractor for their advice.

It’s true — there’s lots to consider with basement remodels, since they tend to impact important components and structural elements for the rest of the home. But finishing a basement is an exciting project that will create a space the whole family can enjoy. It will pay off in the end, just make sure you work with a knowledgeable contractor to get the job done right.

Remodels, Renovations and Additions in Columbus, Ohio

Dave Fox is an employee owned company who makes our clients our number one priority. We design and build basement remodeling and renovation projects for our clients in Central Ohio and deliver the best value through exceptional craftsmanship, excellent materials and ethical business practices. Contact us today to learn more and sign up for our newsletter here!

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We are a design-build remodeling firm unlike any other. As an employee-owned company based in Columbus Ohio, we are committed to serving our customers and employees by delivering high levels of quality and value through innovative design, unparalleled craftsmanship, and professional services. Learn more about our basement remodeling services and projects:
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