If you’re going to pay the mortgage for a house, then you may as well get the most bang for your buck. Yet many people don’t; they leave areas of their home untouched, even though those areas have bags of potential. Take the basement, a room that most people just use for storing anything they want out of sight. It might be useful in this regard, but it can be so much more! If you’re not currently making the most of your basement, then maybe this is the year when you undertake a conversion project. Below, we take a look at nine tips to get you started on the journey.
Pick a Use
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to your basement. The only limitation is your imagination! OK, maybe there are some logistical issues to consider, but still: there are more options than you might think. For example, you could create a home cinema room, or a games room, or a social area with a bar included, in which you can host friends. If you’re thinking about the possibilities of your basement, then take the time to develop the space in line with its ultimate use – it’s much easier to do it this way rather than convert it and then try to make it work with your ideas.
More General Usage
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to pick one specific use for your basement. You can convert it for more general use, and then if one specific function crops up later, adapt it to meet that need. If you’re taking this route, then you don’t need to worry too much about specific aspects; you can just make it a livable space, which usually means adding proper wall covers, flooring, lighting, and so on.
Design the Space
The basement will have a big floor plan, but it’s important not to get fooled into thinking that it’s as big as it looks. It won’t be! Because it’s probably just being used for storage, no consideration will have been given to making it warm and inviting. For that to happen, you’ll need to add insulation both on the walls and on the ceiling, and as such, you’ll lose some of the floor space. It’s best not to overcrowd the basement in your design, as you may have less space to work with than you originally thought.
The main issue you’re going to have with regards to your basement is making it light. When you’re underground, there isn’t so much natural lighting that can get in! And no-one will want to spend time down there if it’s dark and dingy, no matter how comfortable the rest of the basement might be. As such, you’ll want to give more consideration to your lighting than normal. You could make the window bigger, or add one altogether if the basement is currently windowless. Aside from natural light, it’ll be all about adding spotlights and corner lights. Avoid one large central lighting, as this won’t illuminate the corners.
Managing Potential Issues
Of course, there is an issue with the basement that you’ll soon come to understand once you’ve begun looking at transforming the space, and that is that it wasn’t designed to be used as a living space. As such, there will be issues that you’ll need to take care of in order to make it a comfortable space. Water and damp can be an issue, so you’ll need to look at working with a company that offers basement waterproofing services to make sure water stays out. And while you might not have been using the basement as a living space, it’s possible that other creatures have been. You’ll want to check the area for any pests, and have any that you find removed by a professional company.
It’s not just in the basement itself that you’ll want to take care of, either. You’ll need to think about the entryway. If you want to make the space an area where people want to spend time, then you’ll need to make sure that the steps leading down are well-lit. Don’t forget this area when you’re designing the space! The steps down should set the standard for the rest of the space. A few framed photographs, carpeted steps, and good lighting should do the trick.
Watch the Budget
There’s a reason why home professionals recommended converting a basement: if you get it right, then it could add a lot of value to your home. If you spend, say, $20,000, then you might find that you’ve added somewhere in the region of $40,000 in value. But of course, this isn’t a given, and in any case, you’ll only see the return once you decide to sell. As such, you’ll want to watch the budget, just as you would with any other room. There will be costs that don’t add to the look or feel, but which are essential, such as making sure the basement is adequately heated. Factor in all these costs, and you’ll see that it’s not a cheap project to undertake. You may have less money to play with when it comes to adding the fun aspects than you originally thought, so you’ll have to be smarter with the money that you do have.
Pick the Right Time
A basement conversion isn’t something that’ll happen overnight; it could take weeks, or even longer. Because you’ll need to work with professionals for various aspects of the project, you’ll want to pick the right time of year. Summer could be a good option, as you’ll be spending more time outside of the home, and won’t be as affected by any drilling and other noise.
Stay on Top of Tidiness
Finally, remember that it’s important to stay on top of the tidiness of the space, more so than the other areas of the home, for the simple reason that you’ll have less of a “tidying as you go” approach. If you’ve spent all this time and money getting it right, don’t let dust make a home there!