The rise of the basement: Top tips for a better space
With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.
Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.
What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium — and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s — more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.
A smart, affordable upgrade
Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback — a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.
Props for your property value
Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.
To recoup the most from your remodeling efforts, make sure your design and decorating choices are attractive and functional — not too quirky or customized.
Look up, look down: Banish water all around
Before you begin making decorating choices, tackle any needed repairs, including waterproofing your lower level. It’s a good idea to seal your walls and floors first, and important enough to hire a professional if you’re short on time.
And since below-grade spaces are usually cool, humid and prone to water damage, consider investing in a good dehumidifier and choosing moisture-resistant products.
Elevate your ceiling style
Ugly or damaged ceilings can ruin the look of your newly updated basement space, so take steps to repair or replace your ceiling. Plaster any cracks and replace yellowing tiles.
If you’re updating the ceiling, look for products from companies like Armstrong Ceilings that are specially treated to resist the growth of mold and mildew. From there, the sky — or the ceiling — is the limit. Savvy design choices, like coffered ceilings, or wood planks add style and the results are easier to achieve than most people think.
Stuck with an older, 2-foot x 4-foot dropped ceiling grid? There’s no need to suffer without style. Homeowners can take advantage of today’s beautiful new 2-foot x 2-foot ceiling tiles by adding 2-foot cross tees to their existing grid systems.
Flooring: Think warm and dry
Make sure your flooring choices stand up to moisture, too. Patch any cracks in the concrete floor and consider adding a subfloor if the surface slopes or is uneven.
Many homeowners gravitate to the warmth and soundproofing effect of carpeting in basements. Low-pile or Berber carpets resist wear and are inexpensive options. A moisture-barrier pad between the carpet pad and the carpet adds another level of water resistance and reassurance.
Now is a great time to finish your basement. You’ll enjoy the added living space now, and likely realize a healthy return on your investment in the future.