The Do’s and Don’ts of Finishing a Basement

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Home Renovation: Converting your basement into a guest suite, laundry room, game room or extra bathroom or adding a pool or gym could add value to your property. Photo: Getty

This is one of the most popular extensions to do on a home and is estimated to add between 10% and 20% in value, but what advice and precautions should you take before embarking on a home conversion? basement ?

We asked five experts – from lighting to color schemes, here’s what you need to know if you’re considering converting your basement.

Don’t think you need to have a cellar to do a cellar conversion

It might come as a surprise to find out that you don’t need an existing cellar to do a cellar conversion.

“Most cellars that already exist were not designed to be living spaces – they are often not insulated and do not have sufficient ceiling height to be considered habitable spaces”, explains Charlie Avara of All Done Design.

“Whether a property has existing space below ground or not, you will likely still have to go through the process of excavation, reinforcement and insulation to get usable space.”

What is actually more important is if the ground conditions around your home are suitable for this type of conversion.

Read more: Property: The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of a New Kitchen

“That’s because you have to dig in without compromising the structure of your home and surrounding buildings,” says Natalie Mitchell, property and construction expert at Homehow.co.uk.

That said, having a basement already – even if it’s just a crawl space – makes conversion much cheaper, as the foundations are less likely to need adjusting, which adds time. and money.

Consider what its function will be

As obvious as it may seem, you need to think about how you will use your cellar conversion.

“It is crucial that there is a specific function for the basement – ​​whether it is a guest bedroom, an additional bathroom or another living space – so that potential buyers feel there is a need for the space and it’s not just an empty room with no purpose,” says Simon Bath, creator of Moveable.

Not having a clear idea of ​​the goal from the start of the project can also lead to complications later. Avara cites adding a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen where “wastewater drainage must be in place prior to the installation of the concrete floor. It’s a consideration that can trip people up.”

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“It is crucial that there is a specific function for the basement – ​​whether it is a guest bedroom, an additional bathroom or another living space – so that potential buyers feel there is a need for the space and it’s not just an empty room with no purpose,” says expert Simon Bath. Photo: Getty

Don’t skimp on waterproofing

If there’s one thing you don’t want from your cellar, it’s humidity.

“If your new basement isn’t properly waterproofed, water will seep through the walls and into your finished space. This can cause mold and other damage that could have been avoided with proper waterproofing techniques,” says interior designer Linda Haase.

A specialized cellar expert will always pay particular attention to the tightness, but it is worth checking just in case.

Think about what will add value

If part of the motivation behind converting a cellar is to add value when selling, talk to local estate agents about the best use of space and if there is a ceiling price for cellar properties. your street.

“If you live in an area popular with families and young professionals, it might be worth adding space and going for a premium finish to make it appealing in the market,” says Mitchell.

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“However, if the cost of the work exceeds what someone is willing to pay for that extra space, you won’t add value.”

Using the space for a home theater or pool will cost more, but add the most value if it’s something people want in your area. Usually, adding a guest suite, laundry room, game room, or extra bathroom is also a smart use of space.

Beautiful interior of a luxurious tropical resort bedroom in Asia.  Low light and shadows on the wall and bed create a relaxing mood and atmosphere.  Perfect vacation getaway.

Usually, adding a guest suite, laundry room, game room, or an extra bathroom in your basement will add value to your property. Photo: Getty

Know that lighting is crucial

The way you light your basement will make all the difference. If it’s dark and you feel like you’re underground, it’s not going to be a space you want to spend time in.

To avoid this, make the most of the natural light you have by creating skylights on the sides to let in as much light as possible.

“If the basement is going to extend longer than the property above, you might consider overhead lighting. You might think of a frosted or glazed ceiling in some parts of the basement,” says Sahar Saffari, interior designer at Hi-Spec Design.

“You can also include mirrors or glazed furniture in the space to reflect light around the space.”

If natural light is minimal, Mitchell suggests you “use bulbs that are bright but not stark. Wide beam lighting with LEDs that mimic natural light will help it feel bright and airy.”

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Haase suggests using recessed lighting because it doesn’t take up space or cause glare on the walls. “Recessed lighting also allows you to use dimmers to adjust the brightness to suit your needs and mood. If you are looking for a more dramatic look, chandeliers can be installed on the ceiling above the stairs leading down to the basement.

Think carefully about the color palette

While it’s a good idea to plan most elements of a cellar conversion in advance, the color scheme is something you should expect.

“It’s a good idea to leave the decorating until last, so you can see what the paint color swatches look like under the artificial lighting,” says Mitchell.

“Bright whites, light grays and blues can increase the feeling of space, while medium to dark greens can make it warmer and more natural.”

Bath thinks you need to play it safe if you are considering selling the property: “Colours such as green, bright yellow, dark brown and black can sometimes be classed as a no-go zone if you are looking to increase the value of your property.

“Sometimes smaller accents of black could help achieve the desired dramatic effect. However, minimalist colors are likely to be more palatable to potential buyers.

“It’s a good idea to leave the decorating until last, so you can see what the paint color swatches look like under artificial lighting,” says expert Natalie Mitchell. Photo: Getty

DO NOT underestimate the size of a project

Our experts all agreed that converting a cellar is a major project that requires specialized contractors.

“From cost, time, effort, planning permissions and property disturbances to worker selection and maintenance, there’s a lot to think about and it shouldn’t be a rushed decision,” says Saffari.

“Get a variety of different experts to provide recommendations and costs to ensure you have a full view of the project’s potential outcome and minimize any unexpected issues that may arise later.”

Watch: How much money do I need to buy a house?

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