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Concrete Basements Home
Can you have a basement? Water tables and soil conditions
Types of basements: Masonry, poured concrete basements, precast panel basements
Basement construction checklist
Finished Basements
Planning a Finished Basement
Popular Basement Uses: Workshop, laundry or media room
Codes for Finished Basements
Basement Permits: Permit types and an overview of the process
Preventing Moisture Problems
Waterproofing or dampproofing basements: Which to do
Foundation drainage and waterproofing: How to keep below-grade spaces dry
Keeping Moisture Out: Building healthier homes from the basement up
Enhancing & Repairing Existing Basements
Enhancing Basement Floors: Seven reasons why you should enhance rather than cover up concrete basement floors
Repairing Bowed Basement Walls: A carbon-fiber-reinforced grid system permanently stabilizes bowed foundation walls with minimal disruption and no excavation

When most people think of an addition to their home, they think about adding on to the existing structure. What many seem to forget is that their "addition," already 30% completed, is literally right under their noses in the basement.

Realtor surveys consistently show that finished basements rank just behind kitchen renovations and bathroom renovations in recompensing homeowners. Payback on the cost of remodeling the basement comes in at between 20% to 115%. Keep in mind, though, that this meansprofessionally finished basements. Unprofessionally finished basements are a minus.

Homeowners are recommended to delay or not undertake the renovation at all if they cant afford to do it properly. Prospective buyers have consistently shown themselves uninterested in undoing . . . or living with . . . the mistakes and miscues commonplace when would-be do-it-yourselfers find themselves in over their heads.

By remodeling their newly-found additions, homeowners gain several advantages:

  • Basements are naturally insulated by the earth, which means theyre cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Moving the family room, home entertainment center, home office, or childrens playroom to the basement frees up additional space in the main living area, which can mean an expanded kitchen or bath, a larger master bedroom, or an additional guest bedroom or living quarters.
  • Of course, if the house does not currently have room for a family room, home office, etc., one can be built economically in the basement.
  • By putting a home entertainment center, exercise area, workroom or other "activity" room in the basement, the rest of the house can be quieter and more stress free. Conversely, a den, sauna or whirlpool can be put in the basement as a quiet retreat from other household activity.

Remodeling a basement to fit specific needs may also involve some special considerations, outside of what would be found in a "normal use" type of room. That's why it's so important to plan the basement layout prior to starting on the project. Here are just a few examples:

Basement Home WorkshopHaving a basement workshop is ideal, as it isolates the often-noisy activities from the rest of the house. Here are a few things to plan for:

  • Sound insulation: This prevents the shop noise from permeating the rest of the home. Also consider weather stripping for common doorways between the shop and other parts of the house. This will not only add to the soundproofing effort, but will also help eliminate sawdust and other materials from entering the living spaces.
  • Electrical outlets: Adequate power for home workshops is always a concern. For those with a lot of heavy-duty power tools, plan on adding one or more circuits routed through a subpanel to keep circuit breakers close at hand.
  • Dust collection system: This is essential for woodworkers. Supplement this with plenty of ventilation from windows and/or fans to eliminate fumes such as those from paint or glue.
  • Lighting: Good lighting is essential for the close work often encountered in workshops. Evenly spaced fluorescent lights with diffuser grids, and light-colored ceilings and floors all contribute to good lighting conditions. Have adjustable work lights focus on individual workstations and machinery.

Concrete Basement Laundry RoomLocating the laundry room in the basement is ideal, as many of the necessary components, such as hot and cold water, and a drain system are already available. This can also be a noisy activity, best isolated from the rest of the house. Some items to consider:

  • Floor drain: Protect against burst or leaking hoses to and from the washing machine with a floor drain to prevent flooding throughout the basement. This drain will have to be connected to the homes drain system. However, proper installation can be tricky, and is best left to a licensed plumbing contractor.
  • Large sink/tub: Consider draining the washing machine into a large tub or sink with hot and cold facets. The tub can come in handy for soaking clothes, cleaning large objects, or other household chores.
  • Water-resistant floor coverings: Paint the concrete slab with a heavy-duty paint, or cover the floor with glue-down vinyl if the slab is smooth and crack-free.

Concrete Basement Media RoomThe dark, theater-like ambience of the typical basement can be finished into an ideal media room. Some special considerations:

  • Sound-dampening: Install a sound insulation material such as corkboard over the walls, or hang heavy curtains to achieve the same effect and add color. Insulate between floor joists with fiberglass batts and cover with drywall, or suspend an acoustical ceiling. Carpet the floor, and furnish the room with heavy sofas, overstuffed chairs, and plenty of pillows.
  • Lighting: Use indirect lighting (usually aimed at the walls or ceiling) for a soft, glare-free light. Install dimmer switches to further control lighting.
  • Wiring: Plan component installation well, so that sound and video components are easily accessible in their appropriate cabinets, and so the appropriate wiring may be run through walls, behind cabinets, etc.