One of the easiest ways to “add a new room or rooms” to your home is to better utilize the space you already have. Most basements are dark areas where we store seasonal decorations, old toys, sporting equipment and anything else not used on a regular basis.
But, perhaps it is time you reconsider how you use your basement? Remodeling the basement is a cost-effective way to greatly expand your home’s living space. Suddenly you could have a guest room, a children’s play room, a home office, a recreation room–the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
Below are five easy steps to reclaim your basement.
1. Solve Basement Water Problems First
Even if your basement rarely has problems with dampness or flooding, it’s best to solve the problem completely before beginning any remodeling work.
Permanent solutions can take time to implement. A good place to start is to talk to an independent home inspector who specializes in basement or foundation waterproofing problems.
2. Decide on the Best Use of Your Basement
Consider using the space for activities for which typical basement characteristics offer natural advantages.
The lack of light is useful when setting up a home theater or a dark room. The isolation helps create a sound break for a play area, a teenager’s hangout or a place to practice a musical instrument.
Also, in basements, there is usually ready access to things like water lines and heating and cooling ducts. This makes adding a bath easier than it would be elsewhere in the house.
3. Get Help with Your Basement Design
While your basement may not be much to look at now, you’ll want to end up with quality living space when the project is complete. An architect or interior designer can help you get the most out of the space. A little forethought and careful planning now can help you create a space that is attractive, comfortable and useful.
4. Pay Attention to Air Circulation
When your Pittsburgh home was first built, the odds are that there were few if any registers or vents installed in the basement. When you remodel your basement, you need to think about the need for good air circulation, adding openings where necessary.
You’ll also have to include a return air duct, but it’s important that it be located far from the furnace. Otherwise, it may suck dangerous furnace exhaust fumes back into the house.
To be on the safe side, install a carbon monoxide detector in your basement so that you’ll have an early warning of any problems with the venting of the furnace or any other major appliances.
5. Maximize Your Basement’s Natural Light
For many reasons, you’ll probably want to add more light in your basement.
If parts of the basement extend above the ground, you can add new windows or enlarge existing ones.
If that isn’t possible, another option is to dig window wells. Window wells can increase the odds of water problems, so it’s a good idea to build ones with waterproof covers.
Another advantage of enlarged windows is that they provide alternative escape routes in case of fire.
One concern that some people have about basement windows is that they provide thieves with ideal access to the home. One way to mitigate that risk is to install glass bricks (rather than conventional windows) at high-risk locations.
Maximize the effect of regular windows by mounting some windows in the interior walls between rooms that open pathways for natural light to reach interior rooms.