5 Things You Need to Do Before Remodeling a Basement


Basements are one of the most versatile spaces in a home and to finish them can cost almost 80% less than purchasing a larger home. However, before you can get started on remodeling a basement, there are five key things that you will need to consider first.

1. Check Your Foundation

Before remodeling a basement, you must first always check the condition of the foundation. It isn’t uncommon for basements to have cracked walls or leaks, both of which will require you to repair the foundation before you can get started on anything else.

Along with cracks, other signs that your foundation needs attention include doors that won’t latch, stuck windows, uneven walls, and bowing or slanting floors. All of these can cause issues if you try to remodel without fixing them, and you will just end up ruining your newly finished basement if you don’t take care of these issues first.

2. Identify Code Violations

When remodeling a basement, particularly an older one, it’s important to remember that building codes could have been different during initial construction. One of the most common violations that many homeowners run into is the lack of egress windows which allow for an adult to be able to leave safely in the event of a fire. However, these weren’t required in homes until the 1990s, meaning that homes constructed before then are most likely lacking these windows. When remodeling a basement with code violations, you will need to bring everything up to modern standards, so it’s nice to identify these early.

3. Removing Water Problems

Another thing to consider before remodeling a basement is the potential for water problems. Make sure to examine the ceiling, walls, and floors carefully for signs of previous water damage, and keep in mind that any issues will need to be resolved in order to keep your new basement clean and dry. This includes making sure that your lawn slopes away from the foundation and that all leaky pipes are fixed.

4. Consider Proper Insulation

Proper insulation is another thing that you’ll want to carefully consider because you don’t want to skimp on it. Insulating your basement properly can help with saving energy, and it can also help protect your foundation and home from the outdoor elements.

While insulation types vary, spray-foam is most highly recommended due to its efficiency overall. This is because it expands to allow all gaps and crevices to be filled and properly insulated. Although spray-foam can be more costly upfront, it makes up for it in energy savings and effectiveness.

5. Consider Your Ceiling

The ceiling of your basement is something that you will need to carefully consider with your contractor. Because older homes often weren’t held to the same fire code standards that modern homes are, older homes are more likely to have lower ceilings. You’ll also need to take into consideration the plumbing and electrical lines that often run along basement ceilings, as you most likely won’t want to leave them exposed. What your contractor advises at this stage can cause a change in design, depending on what you choose to do and what needs to be done. While it may not be an obvious road bump, your basement ceiling may end up being one of the biggest considerations to keep in mind.

Basements are extremely flexible, and they can be finished to create many unique custom living areas. However, before you can get started on remodeling, these five things should be carefully considered. Work with your contractor closely to identify everything that needs to be done, so that you can get started on creating a basement space that you’ll enjoy.