Practical Ideas for a Budgeted Basement Remodel

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Jan 01, 2011 |
 
Basement set 04

source: PseudoGil, Flickr.com

Many people own houses with unfinished basements. This means that there is an entire floor with wasted potential, just waiting to be transformed. Because basements are underground, they usually remain at relatively constant temperatures – they’re cooler than most other locations in the summer and warmer in the winter. They’re also quieter than most other areas in a home because they are partially below ground, making them ideal for a variety of functions. The problem is, however, remodeling a basement is usually a costly undertaking. Whether you want to create a playroom for children, an office, or an exercise area, the following are a number of tips for getting the most out of your money.

Plumbing

If you’re considering hiring a plumber to install a bathroom or laundry room in your basement, position these rooms as close as possible to your water heater. This will save plumbing infrastructure costs. If it’s possible, eliminate the addition of a bathroom altogether and save even more money.

Weatherproofing

An unfinished basement will usually need to be waterproofed and insulated. Don’t cut corners when it comes to these things, especially if you live in a rainy city like Minneapolis. Basements are extremely prone to leaking during rainy or icy weather, so spending money on weatherproofing will actually save you money in the long run.

Walls

Your basement probably has concrete walls and floors. You’ll want to improve these, and most contractors will recommend sheet rock. However, while attractive, sheet rock can be costly and isn’t the only option. A much less expensive alternative is to hire a professional painter and have him coat your walls with whatever color suits the rom best, provided he first puts a primer on the surface to keep the paint from peeling. One downside to paint, however, is that often concrete basement walls have a lot of holes in them, and these will still show once painted. If this is a problem in your basement you may want to consult with a remodeling contractor to consider other options.

Floors

Flooring can also be a costly proposition. Instead of installing hardwood, tile or carpeting – the usual materials for basement floors – consider laminate flooring or concrete staining. These are much less expensive and provide a long-lasting, attractive look. Staining or dying your concrete can also create a unique design which can be specified to your taste.

Other Tips

Expanding windows or installing French doors can create much-needed natural light in a basement as well as cut electric bills. If you plan on using your basement as a lounge, recreational area, or even a home office, consider buying secondhand furniture.

When selecting a remodeling contractor, be sure to hire only an experienced professional. The best way to save money is to employ an honest contractor who will charge you a fair fee and perform work that will last. Ask friends or neighbors for recommendations of contractors, or ask the contractor himself to provide references.

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