This is the second article I’ve written on basement remodels recently – primarily because, as an agent, I know just how important the topic is for the Seattle real estate market. In an area where every square foot counts, a remodeled basement can dramatically extend living space to include additional bedrooms, office space, a rec area, guest space or, of course, even potential rentable space. And additional living space can in turn increase the resale value of your home. Perhaps you are considering remodeling your own unfinished basement. Or perhaps you are a buyer evaluating a home that has an unfinished basement. Whatever your vantage point, keep in mind that some unfinished basements are better candidates for finished basements than others. To assist in your evaluation, here is a check-list of things to keep in mind:
- Ceiling Height and Finishing the Ceiling: Ceilings in basement areas are often low and low ceilings can feel uncomfortable. Options for raising ceilings are major projects with big price tags. Finishing a ceiling can also be a challenge as you will often need to work around ducting, plumbing and electrical work. Be sure to keep all of this in mind when evaluating a potential remodel.
- Moisture Control: Basements are particularly susceptible to moisture issues. It’s important to fix moisture problems before finishing begins. This may mean waterproofing walls and floors, grading the yard so water falls away from the foundation, installing drains around the foundation or even potentially installing a sump pump.
- Indoor Air Quality/Ventilation: Basements often house combustion appliances such as water heaters, furnaces or clothes dryers. If you are remodeling around these appliances make sure they have sufficient combustion air and that they are properly vented to the outside.
- Potential for Heating: Refinished space must be heated space in order for it to count in total square footage for resale. Heating your basement could be as simple as tapping into existing HVAC main trunks and adding vents or as complicated as upgrading your entire system. Be sure to research this before proceeding.
- Egress: Building codes dictate that a finished basement must have at least one door or window large enough for people to get out of and for rescue help to get into in case of emergency. Each bedrooms must also have their own point of egress and each egress opening must be at least 5.7 square feet with the window sill no more than 44 inches above the floor.