Basement Idea

Assess your Basement Idea for it's Remodeling Potential

Knowing what to look for and realizing the potential problems you will have to overcome in developing your basement idea into a successful living space - may save you a lot of time, money and energy before you start...

and the best place to start is a quick superficial self-assessment to give you a better idea if your basement area is suitable as a basement remodeling project or not, before you take the next important step of calling in the experts.

Careful planning for successful renovations takes time - and the best time of year to do an assessment of this particular area of your home to really see what problems need to be dealt with is during the winter months as this is when the true extent of problems of dampness are evident.

A quick trip to your local building department will also bring you up to date on local codes for minimum dimensions - especially the height of your basement, assessability, light and ventilation requirements.

A quick trip to your local estate agents may give you a better idea of what basement idea is recommended in your area as a way to adding value to your home - be it as a home office, childrens play room, home theatre, double ensuite or even as a home gym and luxury sauna.

Lets take a closer look at what you need to look out for before you can plan to develop your basement idea and realize its potential.


Basement Idea - Assessing your Space

It is unfortunately rare to find a basement that is ripe for development and doesn't bring with it some of the many problems that can be expensive to solve, however the steady increase of interest in basement remodeling has helped create more cost effective and innovative solutions.

The only way to complete the successful development of a basement idea is to plan carefully with your contractor, get all of the guidance and information available from your local housing inspector and to adhere to all of the local codes regarding basement remodeling in your area.

Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind:

  • Basement Dampness
  • Basement Insulation
  • Basement Ceiling Height
  • Basement Staircase Access
  • Basement Lighting
  • Basement Ventilation
  • Basement Egress - Emergency Exits
  • Basement Heating Systems
  • Basement Pumbing
  • Basement Security

Building code requirements for any of the above do differ depending on where you live so it is very important to contact you local building department as soon as you begin planning your basement design idea.

Codes are in place to help you with your home renovations and help you overcome any problems particular to your area by developing the right way - and indeed your safety and the safety of your family may well depend on how closely you adhere to or even surppass the requirements of your local building code.


Basement Idea - Dampness

This is probably one of the most difficult problems to overcome when developing a basement, get it right and you will be able to enjoy this very valuable space but try to cut corners or depend on an inexperienced 'bargain quote' contractor and you could be throwing your investment away.

Whatever is causing the dampness in your basement must be dealt with before you can proceed with any plans for insulation and new wall coverings.

Often dampness in basements can be caused by the down spouts - leading roof water from gutters end too near to the ground level of your home, this can easily be remedied by entending the run-off pipe away from the footings of your home to ground that slopes away from your home.

Dampness and flooding can also be caused by cracks in the foundation wall of your home - depending on the extent - this could be an expensive problems that must be addressed, not only for developing your basement idea, but also to strengthen the foundations of your home.

Everything must be done to ensure that your basement can dry out and stay dry before you can go ahead with insulation treatements in preparation for your basement design idea.


Basement Idea - Insulation

The type of material you choose to insulate your basement to make it into an inhabitable space by eliminating rising and penetrating damp will largely depend on:

  • the type of walls you have and if you have cavity walls
  • your budget
  • If your location is especially prone to dampness - water proof membrance!
  • it will also depend on the experience of your contractor and his prefered method of choice

A totally undeveloped basement means starting with a blank canvass and this often gives you more choice - whether you decide to use blankets, rigid foam otherwise known as foam boards, a loose fill or spray with liquid foam.


Basement Idea - Ceiling Height

Basically, you are not going anywhere with your basement design idea if you don't have enough floor to ceiling height in your basement space, the minimum requirement in most areas is about 7ft - 8ft, nearly 2.5 metres... although you should check this with your local building office to get exact measurements...

without a doubt your basement development will be more successful if you can allow for much more than the minimum - going as high as the basement construction of your home allows.

One of the most important factors in making the basement a viable living space is having sufficient ceiling height, there is nothing worse that the feeling of claustrophobia you can get with extremely low room height, compounded by the problems of cables and pipes boxed in - lowering the height even more in areas.

While you are down there taking measurements, its worth considering if you are going to box in pipes or if you are going to incorporate them as a feature of your basement design idea.

It may be possible to excavate the ground of your basement to give you more height - but apart from being one of the dirtiest and most uncomfortable jobs in renovating that will require the use of certified breathing equipment - you can only dig down as deep as your house foundations go - your local building inspector together with your contractor will best be able to advise you of the particular conditions in the basement of your home.


Basement Idea - Staircase Access

It's best to budget for a new staircase to give a stable and secure access to your newly remodeled basement. There are important rules for the size of risers and treads for basement staircases that lead you to a renovated and newly developed area that will be used much more that a simple storage cellar.

It's important for your investment and the safety of your family that you get the correct required dimensions from your local building office.

A basement that has a walk out access will always be of more value than a basement that just has an emergency exit window. A walk out basement will always sell better to potential buyers if you should later decide to move on and...

A basement that has it's own independent access allows for the development of a wider range of basement idea remodeling projects.


Basement Idea - Lighting

Lighting is very important to make your basement development a comfortable living space.

If you have limited ceiling height you will have problems with the conventional drop ceiling lamps - recessed ceiling lighting will be the best option.

Basements are often dark and can feel oppresive, even with the addition on an egress window or door when developing your basement as a walk-out space - this is why lighting is so important in this area of your home and allowing for different degrees of lighting - and making clever use of dimmer switches - will make your basement idea as bright or as softly lit as you need it to be.


Basement Idea - Basement Ventilation

It can't be understated how important sufficient free flowing ventilation and a good air quality will be for you and your basement, dehumidifiers are popular, but they are also often overly loud in confined spaces and are usually quite expensive to run.

The best solution is to extend your current air-conditioning and heating system to include the basement area, failing this a reverse fan will help draw out hot air in the summer to reduce moisture build-up and draw air in during the winter to help keep the air quality high in a heated basement space.


Basement Idea - Basement Egress

There is nothing more important in any home improvement and financing project than planning for the safety of your whole family when the work is finished and they can actually make use of the new space in your home.

With this in mind you will find out when you visit your local building office that an acceptable means of escaping from your basement needs to be incuded in your plans.

To give you an idea of how carefully planned the rules are for the safety of the residents, keep in mind that - an emergency exit needs to be included in every bedroom you create in your basement.


Basement Assessment Check-List

In doing a quick self asssessment for your basement idea - pay particular attention to

Height, Light and Ventilation

If you smell dampness see if you can find out the cause, check the drains - and don't forget to take into account the height of the ground outside.

Try to imagine where the best places would be to cut into the wall of your basement and build a retaining wall outside - to introduce light and give your basement idea a well drained emergency egress exit or better still a walk-in access.

Can you easily extend any of your home services to include your basement giving you electircity, water, heat and air - effectively making your basement idea a real part of your home.

Planning for a bathroom in your basement will always be more cost effective if you can place it in line the plumbing of other bathrooms or the kitchen above you.

Always get references for your proposed contractor and check them out - view basement development work that they have completed in the last year and try to have a chat with the property owners to see how satisfied they were with the work done, the level of finish, the time it took and how on budget their project was.

Speak to estate agents in your area and ask them what approximate value they think that it would add to your home once you had finished your basement idea - check this against estimated costs and add some - always try to set aside an amount for contingencies.

Adding safety, fire safety and security features in this new extended living space of your home should also be a vital part of your basement idea planning.

This is a great home improvement and financing project - develop a basement design idea to give you the extra space you need, improve the quality of your families home life, enable you to work from home and with clever planning let your basement idea improve the value of your home.

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