Indy basement remodeling projects focus on individual family needs
For four years, member Anne Behrend imagined what her unfinished basement could look like. Instead of exposed cement walls, with an old couch and TV, the Castleton resident envisioned a relaxing space with a home theater system. “We wanted to have a space for our teenager to socialize with her friends ... and additional space for family gatherings and parties,” she says.
A-rated All Phase Group in Broad Ripple exceeded Behrend’s vision when contractors converted 1,400 square feet of space into a dedicated entertainment area, bedroom, full bath and storage space. Behrend requested custom cabinetry to neatly house a large TV and space for a full-size refrigerator and dishwasher in the bar area. The renovation cost $97,000, about 10 percent more than the Behrends budgeted, but they say they asked for features beyond the original quote. “All Phase provided formal weekly updates and was always responsive to questions and requests,” Behrend says.
According to Angie’s List reviews, members spent an average of $28,000 on a basement remodel. Designer Kathy Cuppy of All Phase Group says if you’re unsure of your basement’s potential, ask prospective contractors what they would do if the space was theirs and request ideas that offer creative and cost-effective solutions.
Geoff Horen of highly rated The Lifestyle Group on the Southeastside says unfinished basements offer more design flexibility because contractors start from scratch. He says homes built in the last 20 years are the easiest to remodel: “They were intended to be finished.” Still, Cuppy says there’s hope for older homes. “Even if they’re dungeons, they can be finished,” she says.
Cuppy says coffee-colored cabinets are trending along with wood-like flooring. Horen says seated bars are popular. If you plan to sell, stick with neutral tones, and don’t over-invest in fixtures. “Very expensive fixtures will not bring your money back,” Cuppy says. Horen adds that a bedroom must have an egress window that doubles as an emergency exit. “You can’t just frame in a little window and call it a bedroom. It’s against code,” he says.
Although her mother and stepfather don’t plan to downsize for several years, member Michele Paulet, a recent design school graduate, says resale was the reason they asked her to oversee their basement remodel. “We wanted it to potentially function as an in-law suite,” Paulet says.
They chose Brian Oltmanns, owner of highly rated Central Construction Group in Indianapolis, who added a bedroom, full bath and a wet bar in a large multipurpose room to the home in Fishers. Paulet says Oltmanns understood how important it was to stay under the $25,000 budget. “He could tell we weren’t looking for anything crazy. ... He was capable of doing more, but wasn’t trying to push that on us,” she says.
Oltmanns says multipurpose family rooms top the list of basement additions, and Horen says a full bathroom is another top choice if space is available.
Although the end result and extra usable space is well worth it, contractors and homeowners say a remodel can be stressful. Before tackling a project, Behrend recommends checking references and visiting homes of the contractor’s previous customers. “We did [it] with both contractors that bid on our project,” she says. “Establish agreements on how to communicate during the project. It will need to happen often!”