by Roger Diez
You may need some extra space because your family is growing or a relative needs to move in with you. Or maybe you need a place to entertain? You can't add a second story and moving is out of the question, so what do you do? Well, with a little imagination and some ingenuity and hard work, finishing your basement can transform that dark, dank junk storage space into something usable and even elegant. And when you are ready to sell your home, a finished basement can add to its value.
A remodeled basement has many potential uses. You can make it a recreation/play room with a pool table or ping-pong table. If you work out of your home, basement remodeling can provide you with a home office or a craft room. Do you want to get in shape? A home gym is another excellent use for the space. You can also remodel your basement into an extra bedroom for your growing family or for in-law quarters, complete with bath and cooking facilities. If you have separate access to the basement, you could even create an apartment for rental.
Now that you have decided on finishing your basement, you don't want to head downstairs with a load of lumber, some nails, a hammer, and a bucket of paint. If you want your project to succeed, a little planning goes a long way. First, take measurements so you know the space you are dealing with. Then lay out what you have and what you want the finished product to look like. You can use graph paper and pencil for the layout, or you can use basement remodeling software for a more sophisticated plan.
If you are good at home improvement projects, you might want to try finishing your basement by yourself. But there are many facets to consider, particularly if your basement is damp. Are you skilled in the use of special coatings used to keep basements dry? Do you know about using specially treated lumber? How do you block off your furnace and water heater from view, but still have easy access? Can you get the proper permits and install plumbing and electrical systems that meet building codes? If not, you may want to bring in a specialized basement remodeling contractor. The contractor can determine whether or not you need exterior grading or a sump pump to keep your basement dry. They will be able to advise you on materials such as flooring and paint, and help design a proper heating and ventilation system. Make sure you select a basement remodeling contractor who has references. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau and your state contractors' board. A good contractor can save you time and money in the long run.
Once the work is done, you will wonder why finishing your basement didn't occur to you sooner. Now you can have fun furnishing it. Whether you put in bedroom furniture for guests or in-laws, a poker table or pool table for recreation, a stair-climber for exercise or a computer desk for work, your remodeled basement is likely to get a lot of use and give you a lot of pleasure.