Basement remodeling adds functionality, value to a homeWritten by Michael Driehorst | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When mortgage rates rise, home remodeling typically increases because it’s cheaper to remodel than to purchase.
While today’s 30-year rates are under 6 percent, the unstable economy is forcing people to look at remodeling if they need more space.
Many homeowners are looking underground for that additional space.
“Homeowners are looking at better ways to utilize the space available in their basements than create more space by adding on,” said Bonnie Wolke, who with her husband Denny have owned Wesson Builders, Toledo, since 1986.
Jim Burnor, owner of Burnor Appraisal Service, Toledo, added, “A finished basement enhances a property’s value, overall utility and general appeal. Having a finished basement makes a house worth more.”
How that additional value impacts property taxes depends on what is done. According to the Lucas County Auditor’s Office, if the basement remodel is an extension of and has the same look as the main living area, then it will be included when the property is reassessed.
One of the steps homeowners must take as they begin to consider remodeling or finishing their basement is to make sure it is dry and that there is no water seepage through the floor or foundation walls, said Glenn Banas, who with his wife Ann have owned Banas Construction, Waterville, since 1978.
Banas also said any bowed walls need to be corrected, and homeowners should look into a battery or water-driven back up for the sump pump.
“You do not want to cover up [any problems] and have to spend a lot of money to repair the damage later,” Banas said.
Once you get your basement ready, what’s next?
“The first thing we ask homeowners is what functionality do you want?” said Denny Wolke of Wesson Builders.
Homeowners have a wide range of options for their basements – a recreation area, a play area for the kids, a family room, a wet or dry bar area, a home theater or even a “mancave.”
Banas said, “The sky’s the limit. There is really nothing you can’t do in the basement that you can do in the upstairs.”
No matter the purpose, Wolke said that nearly all remodels include either adding a full or a half bathroom in the basement.
He said a lot of homeowners add amenities and features in their basement that normally would be seen in the main living areas. For example, recent bathrooms Wesson Builders has built in basements include features like ceramic tile floor, furniture-grade vanities and glass shower doors.
“Things that you would see in a master suite are making their way into the second bathroom,” he said.
As you starting thinking of how you want to use your basement, almost no matter what you choose, there are some basics you’ll need – like walls.
With concrete walls, Banas said some homeowners like to give it a faux brick look that can be left as one color or each “brick” painted to give it a particular look. However, with that, there is little insulation.
Wolke said there are generally two main options for walls: pre-finished panels with a fabric surface, or building a stud wall system and using drywall. While the pre-finished panels may be quicker and less messy, they do not provide the insulation and other flexibility a stud wall system offers, he said.
Comparable in price to a fabric wall system, a stud wall system allows contractors to add insulation and vapor barriers, and even the option of moving the HVAC vent from the system down the walls with vents at the floor. There also are drywall products that are resistant to mold and mildew, Wolke said.
The ceiling also is a consideration. If the basement has 9-foot walls, homeowners usually have the option to add a flat, drop ceiling. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, adding a drop ceiling typically doesn’t offer much head room and means the ductwork and joists are exposed. In those projects, Banas said the open ceiling is usually painted a solid color that is neutral like white or one that complements the rest of the basement.
One word of caution both Banas and Wolke offered is for those homeowners who want to add a bedroom in their basement. If you do so, building codes require that an egress window be added as a second means of escaping in case of a fire. Doing so often requires a large window and a well dug outside that window.
While the final price of a basement remodel depends on what homeowners want, the low end will start around $12,000 to $15,000 and can go up to $20,000, $30,000 and more. For the duration of a basement finishing project, homeowners can expect four to six or eight weeks from start to finish.