Since basements are generally surrounded by earth they remain at a stably cool temperature year round. Before starting a remodeling project, you must brainstorm what you would like to make it: a playroom for your children, a home office, exercise area, a large shower place, a guest space, etc. Consider all of these before you start the work. Many people like a kitchenette or a wet bar.
You must also consider the disadvantages of basements: small windows, low ceilings structural columns, etc. Basements should be more heavily lit to maximize both natural and artificial lighting. If you want to maximize the lighting, you can create an open floor plan, very big windows, or a French door to the basement instead of a solid door. You should also consider light colors, and mirrored walls or ceilings.
Here are some things you should tell your contractor or consider yourself if you want to build a perfect basement in your home:
- Maximize the window area for emergency escapes. Another great reason: to maximize the daylight. Also, most buildings codes require every room to have two ways to exit. You should heavily emphasize the access to the outdoors, even if it does require them cutting through a solid concrete foundation.
- Relocate plumbing along walls so that you can have the ceiling high in the center of the rooms, where it is critical. You can then install custom built-ins such as cabinets or shelving. This place is also great to locate closets – If your head room is very low, consider asking your builder to dig the floor and for new slab to be poured. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Make the doors a bit shorter by about an inch or two. This is because it will make the ceiling seem higher and people feel taller.
- Try to use Mexican tiles if at all possible because they have low maintenance and are very durable. Also, unlike regular carpets, they don’t hold moisture. Create a separate heating zone with its own thermostat for convenience. Although this may sound ridiculous, make sure to hang the pictures a bit lower than other floors, since this is the basement.
- Most nowadays consider an extra bathroom to be a must, so if you would like, make sure the request that to your builder. Ask them to incorporate closets in enclosed utilities as much as possible such as natural gas and water meters, as this will allow for much more storage space. If possible, request to drywall the ceilings instead of drop-styling them since this provides a more natural look instead of just a regular basement look. Consider adding recessed lighting and perimeter lights in order to not encroach on anyone’s head.
- Consider opening up a stairwell with a half-wall, as it will definitely help integrate the basement into the rest of the house. If you would like to hide beams, ductwork, and support columns, put them in walls or built in cabinets – this will drastically help improve the look of the basement. Another important rule is to pay more attention to the heating and ventilation system, since this is a trouble many people feel will worsen after the builder has already constructed the walls. Make sure to add energy efficient occupancy sensors, as these sensors will turn on the lights automatically, while after you leave, they will turn off. This is mostly considered a must have in most upper scale homes nowadays. Also, it is pretty easy for the average person to adjust according to needs and will most likely wow many of your visitors.
- Lastly, if your home was unfortunate enough to be built on expansive soil, great precautions should be taken over a concrete slab. You can improve this cosmetically will adding slip-joint details that will probably disguise any big movements of the foundation; although most contractors don’t offer this service; ask around since it is definitely worthwhile to take this precaution or do it yourself if you have the skills/time.
If you follow all the advice in this article, you should be able to build an almost perfect basement that can be used for any purpose, from an office to a home theater, children playroom, guest room, and more – your basement will be a more integrated part of the house, instead of just the forgotten, dark and damp room below.