Design Dilemma: 5 Questions to Ask Before Remodeling A Basement | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: 5 Questions to Ask Before Remodeling A Basement

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If your current quarters are feeling a little tight, you might just think about where you can obtain a little more living space. And you may have to look no further than just below your feet. That’s right — an old basement, currently used only to store Christmas decorations and old tools, can actually become a cozy and chic family room, in-law apartment or media room, with a little thought and planning. In many dense cities where demand for apartments is very high, many people are turning their basements into actual apartments, just as well-appointed and comfortable as any above-ground flat.

But you need to take into account some basic considerations before you start knocking down walls and putting up drywall.

1) How wet or dry is your basement? This will make all the difference in deciding on how, and even whether, you can utilize your basement as a living space. If you have any moisture or water coming in through the foundation or slab, you can’t finish your basement until the source of that water is fixed.  Try to forge ahead without addressing the problem and you’ll be left with soggy, moldy insulation and sheetrock, along with ruined flooring to boot. (Check out last week’s post for more tips on choosing flooring for basements.)

2) Is a bathroom feasible? A bathroom requires removing part of the concrete slab and connecting new waste lines for the toilet, tub and shower. Your ability to connect those lines depends on how deep your waste lines are below the surface of the concrete floor. You will need enough slope to allow waste to slide away with gravity. Otherwise, you’ll need a sewage ejection pump.

3) How high are the ceilings? Most basements have low-hanging ductwork, pipes and lines. One way you can raise the ceiling without tearing down the house is by digging down and pouring new footings below your home’s existing ones. Or, if that sounds like too much work, you can investigate relocating ductwork into hidden corners, like closets or installing them into the floor joists above.

4) Is there anything hazardous down there? Basements can be filled with hazardous materials, including asbestos, which was once commonly used to seal seams in ductwork.  Most pre-1978 homes also have lead paint. Work with your contractor to identify these hazards, and bring in a lab to analyze samples for complete safety. You may want to read some mesothelioma law suit FAQs to see the possible consequences that you will be avoiding by identifying these hazards.

5) How noisy will your basement be? Basements used as media rooms can be quite noisy when you’re on the upper level. And when you’re in a basement, you can often hear a conversation on the first floor. Installing sound insulation into the basement ceiling can help. You might also consider using RC channel, which is a long piece of metal shaped like a hat when viewed from the end.  Without a sound break, sound travels through the wood right into the drywall. The RC channel is installed across the joists before the drywall. When it’s time for the drywall to be attached, it rests on the RC channel instead of the wood joists, reducing noise transmission.

Now, need a little inspiration for your basement project? Take a look:

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