Unlocking Your Dungeon: How to Finish a Basement Without Finishing off Your Checkbook

 


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One thousand square feet, fifteen hundred square feet, three thousand square feet—however big your home is, you know it could always be a little bit bigger. Whether you’re in the throes of parenthood and trying to find spaces to stash your kid’s toys, or you’re starting a home business, and you could probably use an extra room or two. One way to get more space is to buy a whole new house. For those of us in the real world, though, a far more economical and practical solution is to finish the basement.

Yes, that creepy, crawly dungeon can be turned into a playroom for your children, a home office for your bustling new business, or an entertainment room for the weekend’s big game. You’ll just need to cover over the cold concrete floors and the gray foundation walls. Then there’s the pipes hanging from the ceiling that you’ll want to hide, and the washer, dryer, and storage boxes that you might want to section off.

OK, maybe this project isn’t sounding so practical or economical anymore. But actually, despite the time and effort that goes into it, finishing your basement is basically easy and cheap—if you know how to go about it the right way. There are eight key considerations you ought to make if you’re down with finishing your basement. They’ll help you figure out how to go about it, as well as help you decide if you really want to go about it in the first place.

No. 1: Just how much value will the basement add to your home. Chances are, a finished basement will make a “cellar" want to offer more to buy your home. But by how much? To be worthwhile, make sure the increase in your home’s value will over-compensate what you spent to finish your basement. Talk to neighbors who have finished their basement, or do research online or with your real-estate agent to see what houses are worth in your area, with and without finished basements.

No. 2: Have a good sense how long you will be in your home after you finish the basement. Sure, a finished basement will bump up the value of your house, but you also want to be sure you will get some value yourself out of all that new space.

No. 3: Be realistic about costs and work time. Depending on your basement, finishing it could be more intensive than you first imagine. Can you really spent (or borrow) $10,000 at this time? Do you want contractors in your home for two weeks?

No. 4. I don’t need a contractor to do work I can do myself! (Oh, really?). Even handymen or women can get themselves in over their heads when it comes to major projects like finishing a basement. And don’t get us wrong. You may be capable of doing all of the necessary work. But are you able—meaning, do you have the time and energy after your 9-to-5 job, your children’s sports practices, and a few hours of sleep?

No. 5: Local laws may have something to say, too. Hiring a contractor or doing it yourself—whatever way you decide, you may have to comply with local or state codes for such construction. Again, a neighbor who’s recently done a similar home renovation could be a wealth of information, as well as municipal or state Web sites. Following such regulations may seem like a pain, but they may help you prevent real pain that comes from injuries if you carry out your project without safety codes in mind.

No. 6: Sure, it’s a good idea to finish the basement—but exactly how? Here’s the fun part. Once you determine that it will be worth it to go through with the project, now you need to figure out what sort of room you want down there. Will the theme be a spare bedroom, a playroom, work-out gym, office, home theater, etc. ?

No. 7: Are you being realistic about the basement’s new theme? OK, it would be great to have a fitness room down there, but do you really have the room for the treadmill and the weights? Do you have the square footage for two couches and a 60-inch high-definition TV? Will you have the ceiling height to fit your 7-foot-tall bookshelves?

No. 8. Your basement can handle your vision of finished glory—great, now make it happen. Start shopping around for all your necessary appliances and furniture. Do your research on price and selection and get your best value. In many cases—such as with office furniture or fitness equipment—buying used is the way to go. Used stuff can be none the worse for wear, and at online classifieds or auction sites, you can more often than not-get great deals on it.

Steps 1 through 8—just like that, it’s simple to make your house that much closer to being that figurative castle, or that is, to turn your castle’s dungeon into the king’s (or queen’s) court!

Donald Lee is the public relations manager for Buysellcommunity.com. Buysellcommunity provides free classified listing services. Buy, Sell and trade: auto, computers, household items, real estate, pets and much more. For global and localized classifieds, please visit http://www.buysellcommunity.com - Free Buy & Sell Classifieds

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