Thinking About Finishing Your Basement? Start Here.


If you have an unfinished basement there’s a good chance you’re thinking about finishing it. But before you get started, you’ve got a few things you need to consider before the building can start. Here are the top five.

Looking for a pro? 1. Assessing the Space

Before you do anything you need to figure out how you want to use the space. If that seems like an obvious statement, it is. But you’d be surprised how many folks fail to truly ascertain how their basement is going to be used. Do you like having the crew over to watch the game? Need a home office? Will you be adding a spare bedroom and bathroom? Your answers can have a huge impact on your remodel and your budget. Here are a few things you’ll want to think about

Bored with your basement? -Home Theater

Besides nailing down the best place to install your home theater, you’ll want to make sure you talk to an electrician, cable installer, or home theater pro to ensure you have the cables, wires and outlets you need; where you need them. This is especially important when installing in-wall or in ceiling mounted speakers or a projector. If you’ve got an older home, you might even need to update your electrical panel to accommodate your increased electrical demands.

Home Theater -Home Office

Having a dedicated home office goes a long way to keeping you more organized and more efficient. If you’re considering adding one to your basement make sure you have enough outlets to handle all your office equipment, as well as enough shelving and storage.

Home Office -Bedroom

Building codes are pretty clear when it comes to bedrooms. The two most important specs are headroom and egress points. Most codes specify a minimum of 7.5 feet of headroom and at least two exits - one exit being the door and the other being an egress window. While you can sleep in a room without an egress window, you can’t list it as a bedroom unless it’s to code.


Before adding a bathroom you need to make sure your sewer line is up for the additional traffic. We recommend having your line scoped to check for any obstructions or potential failure points. If it’s an older line, consider adding exterior clean outs or installing a new line capable of handling the additional wastewater.

Find Pros 2. Nail Down the Budget

Not sticking to your budget is a great way to ensure you’ll be eating ramen noodles for the foreseeable future. Most experts recommend adding about 20% to whatever number you arrive at to account for unexpected expenses. Set aside cash for architect and engineering costs, as well as for permitting fees. Check out our Cost Guide to get a better idea about how much you can expect to spend.

Basement Remodel 4. To DIY or Not to DIY?

Unless you’ve got serious DIY skills, you’re probably not going to be tackling the entire remodel yourself. If you are competent enough to tackle the framing, drywall, and finishing by all means do so. However, if you’re not sure you’re up to the task, hire a pro to make sure the job gets done right. This is especially important when it comes to the HVAC, plumbing and electrical work. Leave that to the pros. They’ll make sure everything is safe and to code.

-Moisture, Radon and Infrastructure Concerns

If you notice signs of water damage and penetration (horizontal cracks in the walls, excessive mineral deposits, water seeping through the walls), you need to make sure that gets taken care of before doing anything else. Additionally, if your home hasn’t already been checked for radon, we recommend getting it checked. Radon is an odorless, tasteless gas that increases your risk of getting lung cancer. A radon mitigation specialist will test your home for radon levels and install the proper mitigation equipment.

As far as the infrastructure is concerned, if you’ve got plumbing in place do whatever you can to adapt your plans to the existing plumbing. Moving pipes and HVAC equipment means spending more money.

Basement Remodel 5. Hiring a Pro

Finding the right pro can be a hassle. Our ProFinder technology streamlines the process and finds up to four pre-screened, local pros for you. When it comes to managing the project, the easiest way to tackle it is to hire a GC and let them deal with the hassle of pulling permits and hiring subcontractors. While you can save some cash if you decide to manage the project yourself, you should know that you could be setting yourself up for a truckload of stress. Just remember: the more planning you do now, the less stress you’ll have to endure later.

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