Before You Finish a Basement

Posted March 30th, 2010
by Staff (no comments)

One of the things that many first-time home buyers look for is a basement. They imagine that a basement can be a wonderfully private area for a workshop, family room, play area or office. Unfortunately, many of these folks look back years later at an unfinished basement that is used for nothing more than storage. It becomes in many ways a liability rather than a benefit, because you may wind up adding a flood rider to your homeowners insurance just to protect your Christmas ornaments in storage.

If you find yourself with a basement that’s just not being used, you really need to find a way to finish it. Before you get started in the process of finishing a basement, however, there are some things you need to thoroughly consider:

  • Be realistic about the cost. You can finish a basement rather inexpensively if you know where to look for materials and how to do it on the cheap, but it’s still going to cost some money. Do some research so you know what to expect when it’s time to get your materials.
  • Be realistic about your abilities. You might be able to frame in a few walls and install some drywall. But, there are some things you are going to need an expert to do. Things like electrical and plumbing require extensive knowledge, and it’s knowledge that you usually can’t get from reading a book either.
  • Be realistic about the possibilities. A basement can indeed be a great place. There are many things you can do with a basement to make it into usable space. However, you need to realize some important things. For example, you may not be able to get rid of an overall dank smell and feel to your basement. Also, windows tend to be at a premium, so you need to recognize that many rooms will be entirely closed off from sunlight.
  • Obey local home improvement laws. In some areas, you’re required to get a building permit in order to make improvements of a permanent nature to your home. Make sure you know and follow any local ordinances.
  • Update your homeowners insurance policy. After you’ve completed improvements, make sure you let your homeowners insurance agent know. You may need to make changes to your policy to reflect the added value in your home due to the basement being finished.

Photo via AdamSelwood

Categories: Advice

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