There’s a lot of information out there about how to turn your basement into a fabulous living space. Man cave? Craft room? Kid’s play room? Home theater? All good ideas. But, before you spend your time, money and energy, stop and ask yourself a question. What’s really right for your situation and your basement?
Here are some financial, physical and emotional questions for you to think about.
Return on investment (ROI) – When you’re figuring the ROI take the size, age and neighborhood of the home into consideration. What are comparable houses selling for? What up-grades do they have? Is the basement the place to put your money or will you get better value from redoing the kitchen or a bathroom?
The answer to that is usually in favor of the kitchen or bath — renovation costs for a basement can quickly exceed the ROI, especially if you’re going to do it “right”. Often, a not remodeled space that’s clean, bright, organized and dry can increase the value of a house, while a poor or cheap remodel will detract from it.
Structure of basement – There are a lot of older homes in Northeastern Ohio and many of them simply aren’t good candidates for finished basements. They’re usually cold and damp, which only a lot of money can fix. Also, the mechanicals (i.e., plumbing, electrical, support posts, HV/AC, sump pump) can be difficult to work around or hide — creating choppy, small rooms.
Don’t be lured to the design dark side by reality shows that aren’t real at all. HGTV has a lot of resources the typical home owner will never have access to. No amount of creative designing is going to make the sloping drain in the middle of the floor, which smells like sewer in the hottest part of summer, disappear. Some spaces are simply too difficult to fix up.
Expectations – Take some time and think about what you want this space to “do”. Think honestly about your emotional expectations for it. People often think that internal problems can be addressed through external means, and they are disappointed when that doesn’t happen.
Want a quiet space? (What are you going to do when the kids invade your craft room, like they have every other room in the house?) Think it’ll prompt family time? (Is a bigger flat screen the answer to not spending enough time together?) Do you think you’ll finally get organized? (Unless you’re committed to behavioral changes too more space usually means more clutter.)
Remodeling your basement can be a big project, so be sure it’s really going to meet your financial, physical and/or emotional goals. The poorly lit, badly tiled, damp walled, low ceiled, cheaply paneled, smelly, circuit blowing, weird color remnant carpeted, deserted finished basements of our area are legend, don’t add to them.
Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published. She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction. She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator. She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.