Most houses have one: that unfinished abyss below a beautiful main floor that tantalizes homeowners and screams with possibility. The excitement of a totally untouched basement sits on the backburner until you are faced with the reality of turning the concrete cave into the ultimate retreat.
The potential for mistakes is infinite. You’re not a decorator, contractor, carpenter or even close to a plumber, but you want that pool table and beer fridge or leather couches in front of a 100-inch projection screen.
Stop stressing; with a good plan and a clear vision, your project can be easier than you think.
First start with your goals: Are you trying to add to your lifestyle or simply looking to increase value to your home? Develop an overview of what you want—bathrooms, bedrooms, sound-proof band rooms. Then, figure a budget and decide whether you will attempt it yourself or hire an area contractor.
Rob Mortensen, a commercial sales specialist at Lowe’s in Louisville, says it’s hard to pinpoint an exact budget until you unfurl the plumbing and electrical aspects of your downstairs abode. However, there are some important details you will need to notice before you begin hammering and laying down carpet.
“The heating and air conditioning units on the ceiling are important to look at. You need to make sure you can work around those units because they aren’t just going to disappear once you start,” says Mortensen.
Of course, this is where finding a contractor comes into play. Shop around. Get referrals.
“You have to get a contractor to find out where leaks are and to check out foundation issues, or seepage issues,” Mortensen says. “It’s important to take care of that before you start, or you’ll have to spend more money to fix it later.”
Once you find the right person to create your vision, they will tell you about any issues you might face during the process as well as how to reap the benefits of a finished basement.
Rick Holien of Shelter Construction in Lafayette has been a contractor most of his life. He says typically his clients remodel to enhance their lifestyles by adding a bar, home theater or rec room. But certain projects can net more than a dollar for every buck spent.
“A vanity issue is that home theater they want or feel they need—but it isn’t going to increase the value of the home at all. Adding bathrooms and bedrooms is what increases the value of the home,” Holien says.
If you’re really looking to get value, consider renovating it yourself. Mortensen says you can save up to 50 percent by dusting off your tools.
“Usually half of the money for a renovation is spent on the contractor and half is spent on vanity items you get after it’s done,” he says.
If you need a little inspiration, flip the page and read up on five basement remodels that’ll have you jumping downstairs with a tape measure to see what’s possible…