Every neighbor plays a role in the neighborhood. One couple has the pool. Another does the big July 4th party. There’s always one house with the meticulous lawn, too.
Now, here you are with a little extra money and an unfinished (or inadequately finished) basement. Sure, it’s good for storage. But, do you really need all that stuff?
What if you could turn that room into a place for new experiences, like better ways to relax and stay healthy, a customized area to entertain, a plush home office to launch your startup, and any other type of space where you can live out your dreams.
Whether you plan to build a nano pub or a full-sized dojo, there are some guidelines to follow to ensure any living space you create in the basement remains as healthy and comfortable to use as your rooms above grade.
Give Your Neighbors Something To Envy
Believe it or not, basements are a relatively new idea. The concept originated from root cellars, which were storage areas underneath the house that stayed cool enough to preserve food before refrigeration. It wasn’t until the 1950s when people in the U.S. began using their subterranean space to live in. Nowadays, people are taking their remodeled basements outside the traditional definitions and creating theaters, game rooms, offices, gyms, in-law suites, and much more.
Don’t default to thinking of your finished basement in terms of “dank, dark, or faux-wood paneled.”
Today’s building technology makes it possible to engineer the same climate-controlled comfort you enjoy upstairs into your subterranean dream room. If the neighborhood band is jamming in the soundproof mini-auditorium while staying cool downstairs, everyone else can be warm upstairs in the peace and quiet.
No matter what type of awesomeness you create in your finished basement, you can personally get as much as 70% return on your basement remodel when you sell your home. Your neighbors will be glad to know you’ll be raising property values with your added living space, according to Bill Gassett, owner of Maximum Real Estate Exposure in Massachusetts. Living space below grade typically appraises at half of above-ground square footage, which is something to keep in mind, however, the market value of a property is typically more than the appraised value.
Keep Your Eye On The Dream
When you finally nail down what your remodel will look like, all your decisions should support that vision. Not only are you optimizing your chances for success but decision-making will be quick and straightforward.
Let’s look at dollars and cents first since budgets can be a real contentious issue when improving your home. It’s best to take time and set expectations early so the project can move from one step to the next smoothly.
Many factors go into estimating the cost of an addition so this article is using broad strokes to guide you through your own process. It’s important to get a quote from at least 3 contractors in your area to understand your options and fair-and-reasonable costs for your location. For this example, consider the average cost estimates given by HomeAdvisor, an online provider of tools and resources to homeowners:
Cost For An Addition (Wakefield, MA) • Cost To Remodel A Basement (Wakefield, MA)
$28,607 to $89,286 $10,870 to $28,061
Generally speaking based on these estimates, you can treat yourself to a high-end reimagined basement ($28,061) for less than you can expect to at least pay ($28,607) to build an addition.
No One Uses A Room That’s Not Comfortable
Also take the time to get estimates for the best heating and cooling system to fit your new living space and budget. Factory-trained HVAC technicians can give you valuable insight into getting your remodel done right the first time.
Here are some HVAC-related topics to discuss categorized by the hottest interior design trends reshaping basements. Which one are you going with?
1. Workout and Fitness. We’re starting here so we can address moisture and air quality right away. Basements have up to 10x the pollution of above-grade living space. Mold is mostly what you’re smelling in that characteristic odor basements have, and mold is also the number one health danger associated with damp and dusty living spaces.
To recap, moisture and dust will make your new Ninja Warrior training gym have stinky, sick air.
Talking point: Ask about solutions to regulate relative humidity and enhance air quality.
2. Open Concepts. Open-space layouts allow for flexibility dividing up space without cutting off or confining inhabitants. The HVAC challenge with these spaces is consistency. With a central system, for example, you may be warm under a vent and someone in the same room may be cold in the corner.
Talking points: If you already have a central heating and cooling system, ask if it can be expanded. Also, ask about how ductless mini-splits can be a cost-effective and hassle-free solution.
3. Media Rooms. In the middle of shaking the walls of your kids’ rooms two floors above after bumping your home theater system way past 85 decibels, you don’t want your antique HVAC system to ruin it by clamoring on and howling like a windstorm.
Many new central heating and cooling systems have features to reduce noise inside the home. Another good option is a ductless mini-split, which produces a level of noise fit for a library. Plus, mini-splits regulate temperature with thermostats on the air handlers to offer room-specific comfort. You don’t want to cool down your entire house to feel like a movie theater.
Talking points: Ask about how quiet the units run, and discuss the most cost-effective ways to enjoy customized climate control.
4. Separate Living Quarters. Whether your parents or in-laws are moving in or you want to become an Airbnb host, providing guests with a customizable indoor climate is essential. Zoned heating and cooling is one option, if you plan to add or upgrade your current central system. When you call to get your estimates, ask the HVAC tech to both assess the capacity of your system and, if it’s inadequate, suggest the proper size unit.
Ductless mini-splits also offer room-specific comfort with wireless control. Another advantage of mini-splits in this application is their efficiency. Because heated and cooled air doesn’t need to travel through ductwork where it can leak out, living spaces heat and cool quickly so the units only need to run when you need them.
Talking point: Ask about HVAC equipment rated for energy efficiency, and ensure whatever type of system you use is designed to handle the size living space it’s servicing.
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