Remodeling a basement is a popular way of adding living space to a house – it is typically less expensive than putting on an extension and can increase the usable area of the house by up to 50%. However, too many basement remodeling projects end up going off the rails, particularly if the homeowner takes on the work themselves. In fact, there are a number of avoidable mistakes that can turn what should be a relatively straightforward renovation into a complete nightmare.
First of all, while making minor changes in a basement is a perfectly reasonable DIY project, more extensive work requires expertise that is often beyond the capabilities of the average DIY enthusiast. Unless you have some experience with construction, then you probably need to find a good basement remodeling contractor to do the major work for you. Although this is an additional expense, it is a lot less costly than having the project go wrong. The best way of finding a reliable contractor is to ask other people you know who have had work done on their homes – if you don’t know anyone, then look online on places like Angie’s List.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with basement remodeling is to assume that they don’t need planning permission just because the work is being done indoors. Depending on where you live, you may need to get a permit even for relatively minor changes – and you are almost certain to have to do so if you are doing significant structural work.
In addition, you’ll need to get any electrical or plumbing work inspected to ensure that it meets code – not only is this a requirement, it also eliminates the possibility of fire and water damage down the road. If you don’t get the required permits and have the work inspected, you will be forced to rip out your renovations – which means that you have wasted your money.
Another mistake is to ignore any damp in the basement before starting renovations. Basements tend to be damp at the best of times, and serious damp can damage renovations and create a health hazard.
If you see any signs of damp, then you need to have an expert take a look at it and tell you what needs to be done – sometimes there is a simple fix, but you may need to have repair work done on your foundation in extreme cases. Even if you don’t see any damp, you should put down a vapor barrier on the basement floor, and you should really put vapor barriers on the walls as well.
Finally, you would be surprised how many people have to rip down their basement ceiling when work needs to be done on electrical wiring or heating ducts. If you install a regular plasterboard ceiling in your basement, then there is no way that you will be able to get access to either of these. Instead, put in a suspended ceiling that can be removed easily for access when work needs to be done.