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Michael James Remodeling

Basement Remodels

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.

Possibilities

Home Office

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. 

home office

Home Gym

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.  

 

Kids Playroom

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. 

 

basement wine cellar

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.

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Game Room

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. 

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.

 

Music Room

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.

Lighting

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.

 

Moisture

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.

 

Flooring

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.

 

Ceiling

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. 

 

HVAC

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. 

 

Egress

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.

 

See: How to find the best remodeling contractor.

 

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No More Cold Feet

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of a radiant tile floor is that you won’t have any more cold feet when you get out of your shower. There are few things more unpleasant than stepping out of a nice warm shower onto a freezing tile floor. This can be especially bad in the wintertime, when cold feet can become agony.

Heated tile floors will keep your toes nice and toasty when you get out of the shower and during those early morning chills. Best of all, studies have shown that keeping your feet warm can play an important role in regulating your overall body temperature. A heated tile floor can make your overall bathroom experience more comfortable simply by warming up your toes.

Fewer Microbes

Most people who don’t have heated tile floors cope with that chilly tile by putting down bath mats. This helps to keep water off the floor, which can eliminate slipping hazards, and it provides a barrier between your feet and the cold floor. The problem is that these bath mats can become a breeding ground for microbes.

Mold, mildew, and other microbes love environments that are warm and damp, and bath mats make the perfect environment for them. Depending on how often you wash your bath mat, you could be stepping out of your shower onto a thriving colony of germs. Because heated floors eliminate the need for bath mats, they could make your bathroom more hygienic.

Fewer Allergens

If you struggle with allergies or asthma, forced air systems could cause you a lot of problems. These systems heat your house by blowing warm air into the room through vents in the floor or ceiling. The problem is that this blast of air can kick up dust and allergens, not to mention providing a system of ducts for all these allergens to collect in.

Radiant heating doesn’t blow dust or allergens around, and it can do much more than just warm up your feet. In fact, a radiant heat system can warm up your bathroom by as much as five degrees without any forced air assistance. Using these systems can reduce the amount you have to use your forced air system, keeping your allergies and asthma at a minimum.

More Uniform Heating

One of the other major downsides of a forced-air heating system is that they tend to heat rooms unevenly. We’ve all experienced times when we were sitting under a vent that was blasting hot or cold air on us. We were uncomfortable, but the people on the other side of the room might feel perfectly fine.

Radiant heating systems can help to eliminate these cold spots in your bathroom. The mesh or tubing is distributed evenly throughout the floor, meaning every area will get the same gentle warmth. As you move through your bathroom, you’ll stay at the same perfect level of comfort, rather than sweating in one spot and freezing in another.

Greater Energy Efficiency

Now at this point, you may be thinking that offsetting forced air systems with radiant heat is fine and good, but what will it cost? Although you will be able to use your forced air system less, you will have to pay for the extra electricity or gas to heat that system. The good news is that you could actually save money on your utility bills by using a radiant heat system.

Radiant heat systems tend to be more energy-efficient than forced-air systems thanks to their design. Heat rises, so radiant heat systems have to put off less heat to get the room to a comfortable temperature than forced air systems with ceiling vents do. They can also cycle on and off without involving a heat pump and compressor, saving you money and keeping you more comfortable.

No Wasted Space

One of the biggest struggles with adding extra heating systems to your bathroom design is figuring out where to put the components. If you have floor vents, you have to arrange your furniture so those aren’t blocked. And if you’re using space heaters, you wind up with unattractive units hanging on your walls or sitting on your floors, taking up space.

Radiant heat systems are completely invisible and don’t take up any extra space in your home. Because they live under the floors, they blend in seamlessly with your layout. You can get the extra comfort you need without having to work around an unwieldy heating system.

It is important to note that if you decide to use a hydronic radiant heat system, you will have to find someplace to put the water heater for that system.

No Extra Noise

When you walk into your bathroom, you want it to be a relaxing, spa-like experience. This should be someplace you can breathe and unwind, escaping from the noise and demands of the outside world. Unfortunately, that can be a little hard to pull off if you’re listening to the buzz and whoosh of a forced-air heating system.

Other heating systems can be annoyingly noisy, but radiant heating systems are completely silent. In particular, electric systems make no noise, heating your floors without a whisper of extra sound. You can relax in the oasis that is your bathroom without having to tune out extra noise.

Customization

If you’ve ever lived with another person, you know that we all have different preferences when it comes to comfortable temperatures. You may like things toasty warm, while your partner may swelter in those temperatures. Heated bathroom flooring can eliminate fights over the thermostat, since they’re completely customizable.

Your radiant heat system will come with a thermostat that you can set to whatever temperature range is comfortable for you. As we’ll discuss more in a moment, you can even set schedules so the system heats to a different temperature depending on when you and your partner each get ready. And don’t worry – these systems never get hot enough to burn even the most sensitive toes.

Scheduling Features

As with any heating system, radiant heating systems take time to warm up. So it may seem pointless to have one of these systems if you’re still going to have to walk on a freezing floor while you wait for it to warm up. But these system designers aren’t about to let you live with cold feet every morning.

Heated tile floor controls usually come with a scheduling feature that allows you to program when you want your system to kick on. If you have to get up at 7 in the morning and you know your system takes about fifteen minutes to heat up, you can set it to turn on at 6:45. Your floors will be heated to perfection by the time you’re ready to get out of bed in the morning.

No Maintenance

One of the best things about installing a radiant heat system is that you’ll never have to do any maintenance on it. Because these systems live under tile floors, they aren’t exactly accessible. This means that designers create them to last for a lifetime without any ongoing maintenance needs.

Once again, hydronic heating systems can be a little different in this regard. The boiler that heats the water for your system may need attention from time to time, although this is rare. But for the most part, these systems are set it and forget it, providing ongoing comfort in your space for the duration of their life.

Improved Home Value

When you’re doing a bathroom remodel, one of the factors you need to think about is how it will impact the resale value of your home. You want to create something that you will enjoy, but also something that will get you more money when it comes time to sell your house. In general, bathrooms and kitchens tend to bring the most extra resale value to homes, especially when they’re luxurious.

Heated flooring says to a buyer that your home is built for luxury and comfort. When you list your home, adding that feature to your description could get you more viewings and even a higher sale price. These systems may well pay for themselves thanks to their extra energy efficiency and the value they bring to your home.

Discover the Joys of Heated Tile Floors

Heated tile floors are a fantastic way to make your bathroom more comfortable all year round. They can provide a more even heat and may even reduce the amount of allergens and microbes in your bathroom. They can also save you money on utility bills and improve your home value, paying for themselves in the long run.

If you’d like to discover the joys of heated tile floors for yourself, check out the rest of our site at Michael James Remodeling. We are here to bring your vision of your dream home to life in your kitchen, bathroom, basement, and more. Chat with us today and discover what to expect when you experience renovation the Michael James way.

 

Serving North Georgia:  Forsyth, Hall, North Fulton, Dawson, and Lumpkin Counties, Including Alpharetta, Cumming, Dahlonega, Dawsonville, and Gainesville

Michael James Remodeling

3473 Thompson Bridge Rd. Gainesville, GA 30506

(770) 599-2575