9 Basement Remodeling Mistakes To Avoid - Manalapan
Basements once were the second-class level of a home, a place where some families hung out, but not as a first choice. And home owners rarely spent a lot of money to fix them up. But necessity may be the mother of invention as more home owners have seen the basement as underutilized square footage that can be improved, and for less than adding to an upper level. Given a new, fancier moniker, too, of "the lower level," these spaces can improve resale.
In many areas of the country, basements aren't a given. But in regions where houses are rarely built without them, such as the Northeast and Midwest, not having a basement may actually hurt a sale. It can mean $10,000 or $20,000 less in value for comparable properties.
Since the housing market stalled, the basement has garnered more attention. Those in need of more living space looked to this otherwise unused level versus spending double or triple the cost to add space on, depending on their site's topography, labor costs, and the choice of finishes.
Basement renovations also can offer excellent return on investment. According to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, midrange basement redo's, which average almost $63,000, bring a 77.6 percent payback, among the top 10 returns on projects.
Yet, nothing's a slam-dunk. Ensure your clients are making a good investment when they're finishing a basement by helping them steer clear of these nine obstacles:
1. Low ceiling height.
Older home basements were often built with low 7-foot ceilings, which could make some people feel uncomfortable. And excavating to gain more height can prove expensive and sometimes structurally challenging.
2. Water damage.
Another huge challenge in basements is water, which should be eliminated as a possibility before your clients make any further progress such as planning expensive improvements and shopping for furnishings. Even if a basement doesn't have standing water, check to see if it's present in the yard near the home's foundation walls. Negative slope grades toward the house may bode ill as well.
A waterproofing expert or contractor may suggest many remedies, such as wider gutters pitched away from the house, wider downspouts, soil raised up near the house, exterior or interior French drain tiles, a sump pump with battery back-up and generator if the power goes, and a dehumidifier to eliminate excess moisture. When furnishing the room, home owners should consider engineered wood or porcelain or carpet tiles, since they stand up better to wetness and are easier to replace than real wood or wall-to-wall carpet. Certain paints and finishes with low or no VOCs also help remove excess moisture.
3. The dark cave.
Romantic settings are nice, but not if they're because a room lacks ample windows and lighting. Most basement transformations call for additional natural or artificial light. If it's not illuminated well, a basement won't be used.
Some window wells can be enlarged or larger windows can be installed. Use artificial light from multiple sources for the greatest effect. Newer LEDs, LED tape, and CFLs make lighting more energy-efficient and cost-effective over the long term, even if the initial purchase price is higher than incandescent lights.
Home owners can take a plan of their proposed changes to a lighting showroom or a certified consultant for recommendations before the room is completed to be sure there will be suitable lighting, with sufficient lumens (a measure of brightness) and the right number of strategically located outlets. You can use ceiling tiles to access wires rather than permanently close it up with drywall.
4. Awkward floor plan.
Because of utilities and floor drains, the basement level often presents obstacles to work around that can lead to oddly shaped rooms or layouts. Tell home owners not to chop up the lower level excessively, or they'll start to feel claustrophobic.
5. Noisy hub.
Since a home's mechanical systems are usually placed on the lower level, it's good to choose sound-absorbing materials for floors, ceilings, walls, and doors to deaden noises.
6. Too specific or over-improved.
While nobody knows the style preferences or interests of a future buyer, transforming a basement into a home office, family room hangout with a big-screen TV, or a visitor suite generally hold wider appeal than a more limited use such as a photographic darkroom, for instance. Also, buyers of a more modest home are unlikely to spend more to gain a fancy media room or well-equipped gym that never was in their budget.
7. Design continuity.
Furnishings should reflect some continuity in quality and style with the rest of the home, but the basement can also be a place to be more adventuresome. A house can be traditional, but have a lower level resemble a hip lounge.
8. Unappealing descent.
If possible, home owners should improve the stairwell descent into the basement. Removing a sidewall, offering more head room, and sometimes introducing a turn or curve will improve the journey down.
9. Taking the rental plunge.
While earning rental income may be appealing, home owners should verify that their municipality permits it; some don't allow multifamily dwellings in certain zoning areas. If your clients do decide to convert their basement into a rental unit, a typical must-have is large windows or wells for entry and egress.
The bottom line:Even if buyers and sellers don't want to fully finish a basement, doing so partly, perhaps for seasonal storage or upgraded laundry facilities, still adds greater value and makes upstairs life more pleasurable.
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