Home Spotlight: A smart investment starts with a finished basement



You might say it’s the age of the basement. In the last century, below-ground spaces in homes were often viewed simply as storage. But, increasingly, with kids moving back, aging grandparents moving in or the need or desire to create a rental space, basements have become an integral and livable part of the home.

If you’re thinking of finishing or remodeling your basement, here are a few suggestions, as well as things to think about and avoid:

  1. What do you need it for? Basements can be cavernous and undefined so, unless you’re an architect, it’s tough to imagine how best to divvy up the space. Decide what your needs are an entire apartment, with a living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom? And if so, will you want access to the basement from outside to maintain privacy upstairs? Or are you just looking for more space for your family an extra bedroom, game room, den? And if so, should you finish the whole space or just renovate one area? Before you get started, start asking questions.
  2. Do your research: Municipal building codes usually require basement bedrooms to have direct access to the outside through a door or window. Ask a building inspector or the municipal planning department for guidance on what you’re allowed to do before you get started, especially if youre thinking of renting it out as an apartment. Speak to building experts about any structural considerations, like tearing down walls or pillars.
  3. Ceilings, floors and windows: Basements are often dark and gloomy. You may want to consider digging out the basement floor to increase the height of the ceiling and enlarging windows by digging window wells. You’ll also want to install good lighting, including recessed lights and lamps. These improvements might be pricey but they’ll make the space more livable particularly if you’re planning on renting it out or inviting a family member to live there long term.
  4. Cover-up: Basement surfaces are usually concrete. To make the space as homey as upstairs, you’ll need to cover surfaces with plywood, drywall and paint (on the walls and ceiling) and flooring. Keep in mind, solid wood floors are not a good idea because temperatures and humidity make them more susceptible to warping. Consider engineered hardwood, laminate, tile, cork or carpet.
  5. Storage: However you finish your basement, don’t forget to leave a sizeable space for all your stuff! Storage may no longer be the primary use for your basement but it’s still important.
  6. Heating, Ventilation and Cooling: Unless the basement is waterproof, its likely to be damper than the rest of the house and more susceptible to mold. Youll want to consult a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) expert to help manage the ambient temperature and air flow to prevent mold.

You’ll find some common basement finishing mistakes here. And, as always, please share your own tips, suggestions and basement renovation experiences with other members in the Shop Talk Blog community forum!




Did you know? It isn’t cheap!

The average basement remodeling project costs between $15,000 to $100,000 but can add $20 to $30/sq. ft. in added value to your home. Speak to a professional before you get started! (Source)(Source)


25 thoughts on “Home Spotlight: A smart investment starts with a finished basement

  1. The idea of turning the basement into a livable space is wonderful and mind-boggling at the same time. My basement is the entire underside of my house and is all dirt/cement, and has all the pipes and heater vents etc.
    I don’t think it would be possible but if you guys wanted to try, I sure as heck would let you. I’m disabled so wouldn’t be a will to help much, but don’t let that stop you!
    Mike Smith, California

  2. Suggestion making basement area a home theatre room and gaming area. Yes thats what i would do!!!

  3. If you ever finished my basement it would be great I have an antique pool table downstairs it was my grandfathers and then it was my fathers and now it’s mine so it would just be wonderful to be surrounded by beauty. After I lost my dad one of my dreams was to get the pool table refinished because it’s such a beautiful table and my dad loved it as I loved him.

  4. I dont have a basement but I would love to get help with curtains in my living room,just have help decorating, that would be nice if i won the gift card my money would go on curtains and flowers for my yard.

  5. I would love to have more Lighting in my home and have my kitchen redone to make it bigger

  6. You know, I think that i’d get the floor carpeted in a lush, fur-covered fabric of some sort in a rich jewel tone. Perhaps a nice royal purple, maybe? That sounds like a wonderful idea ! How awesome of them!

    1. You also didn’t mention the parents coming back to live with their kids when they are elderly. Mainly if they have lost thier spouse. They are lonely. They need to take care of someone. We are the perfect if I had not injured my shoulder again. We would have been painting this week. I will be doing it soon . If i did what I did after i messed it up the first time I can do anything!

  7. If I had a basement and I was going to remodel my basement for rental property first of all I would get the experts in there to remodel my basement they know all the pros and cons as far as to remodel in the area of which I live I would do it right the first time as for spending money it may cost me more money at the time of the renovation but in the long run it will be cheaper our harm me a decorator to do the inside because the decorator would know the right material to put on the floors and on the walls of the basement and that’s how I would handle the project out

  8. Help, My husband is a wonderful man however he is a bit of a procrastinater which tends to piss me off. I was diagnosed with chronic multiple sclerosis in 2007. I don’t need a lot of things but because we lost our main home we moved up to our mountain home,which is where I really wanted to live all along believe it or not living up here has helped my condition. My husband tells me there is no room for a dishwasher,however it hurts my bones to stand for long periods of time mainly because I have lesions on my brain and spine. Having MS has totally changed my needs,I now have to walk with a cane which is really sexy(lol) Our home s super small and I have so many ideas but now not much money to do it with.

  9. I realize how valuable this project would be, but to give up the storage space? … With money renting it out, and the substantial equity in your home, very smart. Maybe I will get a dumpster!

    1. If I owned a home and had the money to remodel my basement, first I would make sure I didn’t live in an area where that town flood all the time cause where I live it floods almost every time it rains and they have to close the bridge also until the tide goes down. Would gut the whole basement and make sure when putting up new wall and insulation it would be sound proof and have lots of different pinball machines and pool table shuffle board also of course have a very nice cherry oak wood with lighting around the bar no I don’t drink alcohol but would keep it in stock for others also the carpet would have to be all matching with the paint on walls and a big round table with chairs a nice clock hang on wall behind the bar and see if I could get some old bar sings to hang not to many, want it to be for the ids and adults, and while the adults r down there no kids allowed and of course I would make it so the bar had cabinets and they would be locked at all times and can forget the start or the art sound system and also have good pictures of the family and good art paintings’ also have an also have a whole different vision of how I would do my basement its according to family size and how big it is.I will tell that secret maybe later if u want to hear about it.

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