Finishing your basement is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase the usable living and storage space in your home to meet your family’s needs. And though any remodeling project begins with a little bit of dreaming and a lot of planning, your basement requires consideration of a few additional construction details, even before you start.

We have lots of basement remodeling experience and have helped many homeowners visualize all the possibilities of their basement space. So, before you think about how much built-in storage you need or where to put the TV, here are 5 things our experience shows your basement remodeling plan needs to address right from the start.

1/ Moisture

The most challenging thing about finishing a basement is the presence of moisture. Basements need to be – and stay – dry before you add any new building materials to the space. That means checking to make sure that there isn’t any existing moisture damage or mold problem that needs remediation. Once we know the space will stay dry, we can proceed with making it a great living space.

finished basement bathroom

Finished basement remodeling by Merrill Contracting

2/ Plumbing

Whether your home is old or new, a basement that’s not finished probably doesn’t have the proper plumbing you’re going to need if you want to make the best use of the space. To add a full bath, or even a powder room, plumbing needs to be added that will bring hot and cold running water to the bath. If the existing sewer line is located at an elevation above the basement floor, a pump will be needed to bring the waste water up and out of the below-ground space.

3/ Flooring

Your choice of flooring in the basement is affected by the temperature and the desire to avoid any future moisture problems. A cool floor might sound nice on a hot, humid summer day, it’s not so nice in the middle of winter when your kids stay indoors to play. Hardwood floors are not recommended for use in basements, but engineered wood, tile or laminate flooring used with area rugs work well. And adequate insulation is important for maintaining a comfortable temperature and controlling condensation.

Engineered tile flooring in finished basement remodeling

Photo courtesy Armstrong Flooring

4/ Lighting

The typical basement has challenges like low ceilings and poor natural lighting. Unless you have a sloped lot with a walk-out basement, there usually isn’t an option to add large windows to let in more light, as you might do in a family room. Some thoughtful planning and design are needed to create a brighter space. Well-placed recessed ceiling light fixtures supplemented with task lighting and lighter wall and flooring color choices can make the space warm and welcoming.

5/ Egress

The word “egress” isn’t something you usually hear used in a residential remodeling project. But in a finished basement, it’s required for you to have a way to get out in an emergency other than by the stairway to the first floor. A walk-out basement door solves the problem, but if the space is all below grade, you need to add at least one “egress window” that opens and is large enough for an adult to go through. There are also specially made basement windows that include built-in steps and a window well that allow someone to climb out safely.

walk-out basement

Walk-out basement remodeling by Merrill Contracting

Once we’ve solved any problems, don’t wait another day to have your basement become your favorite place in the house! Start with how you’d like the space to function. Maybe you want a cozy family room, a wine cellar, or home office. If storage is desired, the right solution for storing frequently used items will be different than creating storage for holiday decorations that only need to be accessed once a year.

Call us today or submit our contact form. We’d be delighted to take a look at the space, share some ideas, and help you discover all the basement remodeling possibilities waiting for you.

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