Tips for planning a basement remodel

If your basement is limited to storing the artificial tree from the 1995 holiday season, riding toys the kids have outgrown and several pieces of discarded furniture, you could be neglecting your home’s potential for additional living space.

Basement remodeling could transform this space into an entertainment area with a kitchenette, a wet bar, comfortable couches and chairs and a big-screen TV; an extra bedroom and bathroom; a crafts area; or a kid’s play room. With the help of an experienced contractor, you can explore an array of possibilities to fit your needs.

With a basement remodeling project, you can expect to recoup from 72 percent to 75 percent of the value when selling your home, according to a 2010 report released by Remodeling magazine.

If you’re among the residents of the more stable areas of Washington, D.C., which is among the few metropolitan cities with relatively stable home prices in the past few years, a remodeling project could be an ideal way to expand your living space without moving. It seems that Angie’s List members in the Washington, D.C. area are aware of this remodeling option – in the past six months members have searched Angie's List for D.C. remodelers more than 6,000 times.

When undertaking a basement remodel, follow these steps to ensure that you’re prepared for the process and happy with the results:

  • Evaluate the space. Determine if it needs to be professionally waterproofed before spending tens of thousands of dollars to renovate it.
  • Determine its use. Meet with family members to determine how you spend your time and how a remodeled basement could best fit your needs. Do you need space for your teenage daughter and her friends? Or do you need a guest bedroom for relatives?
  • Set a budget. The addition of a bathroom, for example, could significantly add to the total cost. List your needs and wants. It may not be necessary to add the same type of granite countertop to a kitchenette as you did in your main kitchen.
  • Interview contractors. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry suggests checking affiliations, licensing and referrals and/or reviews from neighbors and friends before interviewing contractors for the final selection. Contractors who specialize in basement remodeling may be better equipped to handle your project.
  • Understand the scope of the project. Although the basement may be out of sight, if you don't have a walk-out basement, anticipate workers constantly walking through your home with materials to accomplish the project. Also, the project could take four to six weeks, according to a news report published by NARI.

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