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Pros and Cons of Finishing a Basement

May 25, 2022

Pros and Cons of Finishing a Basement

If you've ever wished your home had more space, you've probably debated between a finished versus unfinished basement. Finished basements are appealing and attractive, and they add a whole new level to a home. On the flip side, they also take a lot of work to build and maintain. 

As a homeowner, you want to envision the process and weigh the benefits against the disadvantages before you make a decision. 

Pros of Finishing Your Basement

There are plenty of advantages to a finished basement — that's what makes them so popular. Whether you're looking for some extra space for your family or seeking out a specific room design, finishing your basement can be an appealing strategy. 

Here are some pros of a finished basement:

1. Boosts Home Value

A finished basement can add value to your home — between 70%-75% of the initial cost. You'll essentially be adding living space to your house, which will be a clear advantage when it comes to selling your home. As potential buyers come to look at your home, they'll be impressed with the new look of your basement. Since it's already finished, this also takes some of the work out of future owners' hands. 

2. Gives You More Space

One of the most popular reasons to opt for a finished basement is because it adds a whole new livable floor to your home. Unfinished, your basement is usually reserved for storage. Finished, it becomes an extension of your livable home, with new rooms to create however you see fit.

 

3. Creates Privacy

Looking for some space away from the rest of the world? A finished basement gives you that, being a level or two below everyone else in your home. For larger families, finished basements offer a perfect way to create some more space. Family members can entertain guests in the basement while the rest of the family can still enjoy peace on other floors — or vice-versa. 

4. Provides Safety

Finished basements also give you safety options. In case of natural disasters, like tornadoes, basements are often the safest place to be. With a redesigned, comfortable living area, you'll be ready if that time ever comes. You'll have couches, TVs, even fridges to stock water and food, creating a safe, comfortable place to hunker down.

 

5. Offers Design Freedoms

Another great aspect of finishing your basement is the design freedom it gives you. Unlike other areas of your home which have designated uses — kitchen, living room, bathroom — the basement is yours to craft any way you'd like. Here are some different ways you can transform your basement:

  • Home theatre: Take watching a movie to a whole new level with a home theatre. Comfy theatre seats, a wall-mounted screen and some popcorn — it's like going to the movies in your own home. 
  • Fitness area: Looking to streamline your workout routine? Take all the hassle out of going to the gym with a convenient fitness area in your own basement, decked out with weights and machines. 
  • Home office: If you want a practical space to focus on work in, a room in your finished basement makes a great home office. You can customize the size and layout to fit whatever working space you need.
  • Elegant wine cellar: Upgrade your wine cellar to a livable area with elegant couches and marble countertops. Put some of your favorite bottles behind glass and create a space to entertain guests or unwind after a long day. 

Cons of Finishing Your Basement 

Though a finished basement is appealing, it also has some potential disadvantages. These aspects are something you'll want to consider in the pre-planning process. For most home projects, there are going to be some challenges to overcome. You can weigh those challenges against the benefits of the completed project.

The cons of a finished basement can include:

1. Has a High Cost 

Cost is one of the most significant cons of a finished basement. The total cost will differ slightly based on the design you want — a home theatre will likely cost more than a finished room with a couple of couches, carpet and a TV. You'll also have to consider these factors: 

  • Electricity: You'll need bright lighting to transform your basement into a livable space. This also means installing new lighting and dealing with a higher energy bill. 
  • Plumbing: Looking to put a bathroom in your new basement? This creates a whole new challenge, as you'll have added plumbing costs on top of the finished basement. 
  • Floor plan: What kind of floor plan do you want? A design that plays to your basement's current layout may be the more affordable option, while adding additional rooms can raise costs. 

The more intricate your design, the higher the price of a basement will be. Electrical, plumbing and other costs can quickly start to add up during the construction process, so it's important to have a good idea of what you want and see if it fits your budget. 

2. May Not Recoup All Expenses 

Although finishing your basement will boost your home value, you may not recoup a quarter of the project's cost. This is a con that isn't as important to some homeowners, since they're willing to spend the money for the added convenience and living space a finished basement offers. 

3. Creates More Upkeep 

An unfinished basement requires little upkeep. Maybe you descend once in a while to dust off old belongings and vacuum, but for the most part, it remains of little importance. 

After the basement is finished, it becomes just like any other part of the home, subject to routine cleanings and maintenance. Basements are usually high in moisture, so you'll want to have a plan to reduce mold growth. Dehumidifiers are a good option to keep your basement clean and fresh-smelling. 

If you do all of the cleaning yourself, this could add some time and energy to your weekly routine.  

4. Has to Adhere to Building Codes 

Although it's a part of your home, your basement remodel will have to follow local building codes in your area. Fail to live up to a certain code, and your construction could have to be halted. It will take a little time to get in contact with the city and unearth those small details about finishing a basement. Electrical outlets, for instance, should be within 6 feet of each other.

Make sure you're adhering to all of these codes so that you can finish your basement and have confidence that it's done the right way. 

Finished Basement Myths 

When it comes to finished basements, there are many myths and assumptions. These range from the actual definition of a finished basement to the impact on home value. Here are some frequently asked questions that address those myths. 

What Does “Finished” Basement Mean? 

In simple terms, a finished basement refers to one that resembles other parts of a home. It will typically include finished floors and walls, an electrical system and furnishings. 

Does Adding a Bedroom in the Basement Add Value?

Yes, an extra bedroom in the basement will add value to your home. Potential buyers will love the usable space, as it can act as a guest room for college students, relatives, elderly parents or even an extra bedroom for a large family. 

Do Basements Easily Flood?

While it's true that basements are more prone to flooding than other parts of the home, you can install a waterproofing system that can help defend against excess rainwater or snowmelt. 

Do You Need Permits to Finish Your Basement?

In most cases, you'll need permits to finish your basement. Check with your local city government to ensure you're following the building codes. You may also need separate permits for electrical and plumbing, depending on your design. 

Should You Finish Your Basement?

Finishing your basement is a tall task, and one you should thoroughly think over before you make a decision. Weigh the pros and cons of finishing your basement against one another to see if it's the right decision for you. 

 

Things to Consider if You Finish Your Basement 

If you do decide to finish your basement, there are a lot of things you need to consider. Make sure you break down each part of the process into manageable steps so you can put the right amount of focus into each one. It's better to take more time in the planning process instead of having to redo designs later on. 

1. Budget 

If you want to finish your basement, determine your budget first. Prices can easily rise as you work on your basement project, so it's important to set a range and stick to it. Setting a budget will also help you design your basement, as it will put some frames of reference around the process — you'll know whether you can add walls to create separate rooms or if you need an open plan, for example. 

2. Overall Design

Next comes designing. What are you envisioning it to look like? Consider these factors when crafting your design:

  • Function: Are you looking to put in a home theatre, or just want some extra space for your family to hang out in? Or maybe you're just looking for an extra bedroom for an elderly parent? Whatever your reason for finishing your basement, make sure you tailor your design to that specific function. 
  • Floor plan: You'll also want to determine the floor plan — are you going to want separate rooms or an open, spacious area? This will play a large factor in your budget, as adding extra walls could increase costs. 

3. Lighting

To transform that dark and shadowy basement into something livable, you'll want to pay close attention to your lighting. With the right lighting, you can make your basement into a bright and inviting atmosphere. You may want to add some windows to let some natural light in. LED lights are also a great option for basements, as they can illuminate a large space without wasting too much energy. 

4. Moisture

Moisture is going to be a huge aspect of the upkeep of your basement. To get a head start on this issue, you should think about how you're going to address humidity during the planning process. You can utilize a few different strategies to keep moisture away:

  • Dehumidifiers: A dehumidifier is an effective way to reduce moisture in your basement. It's an easy strategy that effectively cuts down on any issues that humidity can create. 
  • Proper drainage: You should also ensure your roofing has proper drainage so rainwater isn't collecting at the foundation of your home. Have a professional take a look at your drainage to ensure water is draining away from your house. 
  • Fans: Another effective strategy for handling moisture is to use fans. These can circulate air, reduce humidity and give your basement an overall cleaner, more fresh feel. 

With proper moisture prevention methods in place, you can reduce any costs associated with mold removal and keep your basement smelling clean. 

5. Flooring

Cater your flooring type to the characteristics of your basement. Because of moisture, solid wood flooring might not be a good option, as it could start to split and crack. Instead, you could opt for something like tile or vinyl planks. Here are a few of your options:

  • Ceramic tile: If you're worried about flooding, ceramic tile is a great option, as it dries out quickly and stands up well to water. It's also rot-resistant, making it a tough, long-lasting option for your finished basement. 
  • Sheet vinyl: This option is also a great defense against water and is also affordable — a great choice for those looking to save some money on their budget. 
  • Engineered wood: Although solid wood isn't a very good pick for basements, engineered wood is an ideal flooring type. It stands up well to moisture and also has great sound-absorbing effects. 
  • Carpeting: For a cozier, softer floor, you can always opt for carpeting. It gives you a lot of warmth in your flooring and is perfect for families who have children. Unlike hard options like tile, carpeting will be much more forgiving to falls. You'll need to have a solid subfloor and moisture-prevention methods in place to keep your carpeting dry and clean.
  • Concrete: What if you want to keep the concrete that's there and just touch it up a little bit? That's also possible —  just stain or paint it to give it a different look. Concrete is your most resistant moisture option and also the most affordable. 

6. Safety

Many basements are underground, which raises several safety concerns. Most local codes require basements to be built with windows big enough for safety equipment to get through in case of an emergency. Make sure you're installing the proper preventative measures like fire, carbon monoxide and radon detectors. 

Checking safety off your list will give you confidence that your basement is a safe place to be. 

 

Find or Build Your Perfect Home With SK Builders

Maybe you've decided a basement remodel isn't right for you, and you want to start from scratch. If you're looking to buy or build your dream home, SK Builders is here to help, with over 25 years of experience delivering quality work to the upstate South Carolina area. 

We're dedicated to providing excellent customer service, professional craftsmanship and beautiful designs to all of our clients. Our partnership with McAlister Realty makes the buying process as seamless as possible. Bring your dream home to life and start working with SK Builders. Contact us today!

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/pros-of-finishing-a-basement-for-property-investors-2124861
  2. https://www.builderpeople.com/blog/how-to-set-up-a-home-office
  3. https://www.builderpeople.com/blog/types-of-floor-plans
  4. https://up.codes/viewer/south_carolina/irc-2015/chapter/39/power-and-lighting-distribution#E3901.2.1
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/dehumidifier-benefits
  6. https://www.builderpeople.com/blog/types-of-hardwood-floors
  7. https://www.builderpeople.com/homes
  8. https://www.builderpeople.com/build-on-your-lot
  9. https://www.builderpeople.com/contact-us

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