Michael James Remodeling
Planning Your Perfect Finished Basement or Basement Remodel
When it comes to North Georgia homes, there are certain elements we have come to expect. Among those are enough garage space to keep vehicles protected from the hot Georgia sun, open floor plans and kitchens big enough to accommodate friends and family. But it also turns out Georgians like basements.
Of course, the North Georgia basement is not likely to be the dark, damp, concrete cavern used for storing old bicycles and Christmas decorations that may come to mind when we hear the word “basement.” Today we envision all the ways we can turn a home’s foundation into valuable, functional space to serve just about any idea imaginable.
While an unfinished basement does work great for extra storage space, your basement could be used much more effectively. A lower-level remodel can transform under-utilized space into an additional living area, home theater, home gym, or playroom. It’s not hard to see why so many people love their basements. This space can provide plenty of extra room to work, play, relax, or entertain. It’s a versatile area that can be updated and repurposed over time. Even better, basement remodels and finishing tend to have a good return on investment and can give your property’s value a major boost, which is always a plus.
Whether you envision a pool table, ping pong table, climbing wall, media room, playroom (for the children or the adults), second kitchen, bar, or extra bedrooms, Michael James Remodeling can help. Let’s first take a look at some of the possibilities before digging into some important things you might want to consider before tackling the basement of your dreams.
Home Theater / Media Center
Who needs to go to a crowded, dirty movie theater and pay $25 for popcorn and a drink, when you could set up the perfect movie experience downstairs in your own basement? To create the ideal media room, you can start by thinking of your favorite theater and work from there. Comfortable seating and an enormous screen are obvious features. You may also look into setting up lighting on a dimmer, adding a surround sound speaker system, or installing a fridge or kitchenette to serve as your own personal snack bar. However, while many home theaters are built as enclosed dark spaces to optimize the “theater experience”, you may consider opening it to other areas of the basement so the “big screen” can be enjoyed while playing games, working out, fixing snacks, or hanging out at the bar.
Having a dedicated workout space in your home can make it much easier to commit to a keeping fit, without having to find the time to head over to the local gym. The basement can be the perfect place to set up your favorite exercise equipment. Your basement is likely to have enough space to dedicate to fitness so your treadmill doesn’t windup doubling as a clothes hanger. In addition to setting up your gym favorites, you may also consider setting up fans, extra ventilation, a convenient shower, or even a sauna.
Home Bar / Wine Cellar / Tasting Room
With a little imagination and planning, you can turn your basement into a bar area perfect for football or after-work happy hours. Add a full wet bar with a fridge and icemaker or a small kitchenette for storing drinks and snacks for game time. Or if you are a serious connoisseur of wine or whiskey, take it to the next level and turn your basement into a luxurious wine cellar or an intimate tasting room.
Are toys taking over your entire home? It may be time for a basement playroom. The basement can be an ideal space for letting kids run and play. Carpeted floors and non-slip mats can help make the space safe and comfortable. Creative storage and built-ins can be added to stash toys and games when playtime is over.
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Now more than ever, home offices are becoming essential. Whether you’re self-employed, a remote worker, a freelancer, or you simply want a quiet place to write or pay bills at the end of the day, a home office space can be a valuable addition to your home. Look for a corner of the basement that is away from other activity. Your basement home office may be a good place to consider some soundproofing. While it may be hard to find in a basement, we suggest utilizing a part of the basement with natural light. Studies have shown that natural light can improve productivity in a number of ways including improved creativity, mood elevation, and reduced eye strain.
Whether you want a “man cave” or the neighborhood go-to party spot for you or the kids, why not use the basement to set up a multipurpose game room. This could include a pool table, ping pong table, air hockey, or setting up an old-school arcade with pinball and video game machines. Set aside a corner with a table and lots of comfy chairs for board games for family game night or playing cards with the neighbors.
When your garage band has outgrown the garage (or the living room), why not set up a practice space in the basement? The underground space can be the perfect place for musicians or aspiring musicians to practice their instruments. Some soundproofing and a few finishing touches can let you use the basement as a recording studio or a place to rock out to your favorites without disturbing the neighbors and the rest of the household.
Considerations and Planning
No matter what you decide, in order to pull off a successful basement remodel, proper planning is essential. Here are a few things to expect and consider before starting your basement remodel or finish project.
Return on Investment
Finishing a basement can be a good investment. According to Cost Vs Value the average return on investment for a basement project is currently around 75 cents on the dollar. A basement project is also likely to add new functionality to your home (e.g. more bedrooms, more efficient storage, and more space to entertain) that you can enjoy for many years to come.
Obviously, natural sources of light can be limited in basements, so where possible, plan for windows and doors that can allow as much natural light as you may want/need into your basement. Make sure openings are planned and cut before other work begins. Before creating any new windows or doors, make sure the surrounding walls can take on the increased structural load.
Installing a dehumidifier can actually create problems by drawing water through foundation walls. To prevent moisture in a finished basement, ensure good drainage off your roof and away from your foundation and proper ventilation. Sealants, breathable insulation, vapor barriers should be installed between interior stud walls and floors and between foundation walls and floor slabs.
Not all flooring is ideal for basement applications. Solid wood for example may buckle and split with small fluctuations in moisture levels. Instead, look for products such as vinyl plank, carpeting, ceramic tile, and engineered wood flooring that can be used below grade and still achieve the look and feel you want.
Drop ceiling tiles work well in basements because they are easy to install, can hide ducting, wiring, and plumbing that may not have been routed through the floor joists, and can be individually moved for access. A drywall ceiling is a more attractive option, but if you don’t have the necessary height, this may require the rerouting of the aforementioned HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Also keep in mind the potential for water leakage in or above the ceiling which may result in costly repairs.
Your home’s heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems may have been installed based on upper-level requirements. Make sure you have the right equipment installed to serve the basement as well.
Local building codes may require windows in order for a basement room to be considered a bedroom. An enclosed closet may also be required. Windows should be large enough for a firefighter in full gear and for occupants to safely escape if stairways are blocked by fire.
Finding the Right Contractor
Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do with your basement space, it’s time to inquire with friends and research online to find who is best suited to do the work for you and your family. Get quotes from multiple contractors. Invite contractors and designers into your home to discuss your requirements. Remember to take into consideration not only the price but also, the contractor’s ability to complete the job, per your specifications and needs.
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