Is Basement Remodeling the Best Way to Add to Your House?


A common mistake in home remodeling is getting oversold on a finished basement. Although there may be available space in the basement of your house that could be put to some use, most basement remodeling projects are a poor place to invest money – whether for a playroom, game room, bedroom, bathroom, laundry, home office, or even man cave. So when you weigh the pros and cons of a basement remodel, ask yourself, “Do you really want to go down there?"

A basement ceiling is typically too low to begin with and even lower around pipes and ducts when basement remodeling is completed. And a basement can be damp and clammy even though there are many ways to fix a wet basement, essentially by getting sunlight and fresh air into it. Most important, what are you going to use the basement for – an expensive renovation just for a playroom for the children?


When you weigh the pros and cons of a basement remodel, do you really want to go down there?
Basements are always prone to moisture and floods. If the basement smells musty, mold is present.
A basement apartment may run contrary to local zoning and be a red flag during a home inspection.

Are you sure the children and family will use the new basement design plans? Too often the basement remodel's anticipated use lasts only a year or two on rainy days; not sufficient justification for the cost to remodel basement. Moreover, it is difficult to supervise very young children or teenagers a full flight of steep stairs away. If it is to be an adult game room, your guests might think you are afraid they will ruin the living room carpet and, unless the access is through the entrance hall, everyone will have to wind through the house and the kitchen to get to the back stairs with the typical basement design.

Basement Bathroom - can you put it elsewhere?

What is the purpuse of your basement remodel? Do you need to know where to find space for an extra bathroom and then how to add a bathroom? A new bathroom remodel can be squeezed into an surprisingly small area. A space 3 feet by 5 feet can accomdate a sink and toilet; 3 feet by 8 feet is enough for a shower too, especially with the latest in shower enclosures. You can discover locations for your basement bathroom by utilizing the best 3D home design apps to visualize your new space. Money spent on renovating areas such as kitchens and baths usually produces a greater return on investment than refinishing your basement. Using home design software you can plan the ideal basement remodel to the last detail so far as proportions, locations of doors, windows, pillars, and stairs.

Basement Bedroom - who wants to sleep down there?

Furthermore, the basement is not a good place for adding bedrooms. Older people will complain of the dampness and cold walls and floors, even if they are bone dry. Children feel demoted and like second-class members of the family if they are made to sleep there; guests may resent being stuck down in the cellar for the night. Because of the way they are built, basements are always prone to moisture and floods. A wet basement is not the best atmosphere for a good night's sleep. Most importantly, a basement apartment may run contrary to local zoning and be a red flag during a home inspection.

Basement Laundry - do you need the extra work?

A basement laundry room will double the work of doing the laundry because the clean clothing, bed linen and towels must be hauled back up steep basement stairs even if you install a laundry chute to get it down there. Moreover, a washing machine and dryer will add to an already damp basement. Moisture levels are likely to be greater because of temperature differences between the basement and the areas of the home above grade, especially in a laundry room. When basement moisture levels go above 60% mold will start to grow. Even if the mold is not visible, if the basement smells musty, the mold is present. 

Basement Home Office - can you work in a dungeon?

A basement does not usually work out well for a study or home office because books and papers get musty and moldy. Even with a daylight basement, which has small windows near the top of a wall, basements will have poor, if any, natural lighting on the lowest level.

Basement Man Cave - will it sell?

That man cave may fit your lifestyle, but buyers may complain about the lack of storage space. Finishing a basement can be an expensive project; not the best idea if you’re on a tight budget or if you owe more on your house than it’s worth.

Basement Work Shop - how much noise can you make?

Don’t build a shop in the basement, either; noise from the machinery will get carried throughout the house; wood, paint, and other materials will need to be carried down and then out again and create a fire hazard when stored there.

Wet Basement - how much to fix?

Do you have a wet basement or does it flood during rainy weather? You need wet basement solutions. Most leaky basements could have been made watertight if good construction practices had been followed when the foundation was built. Dampness, rust, mildew, mold and allergic reactions are only a few of the problems produced by water in the basement of your home. At the very least, the basement can no longer be used for storage or kids play area. At the worst, a wet basement makes the whole house almost unlivable. If your home has endured some sort of water damage, whether it is from a broken pipe or natural disaster such as a flood, it is essential to perform the correct water damage clean up to remove the water before it causes permanent damage to the structure of the house. A well-constructed basement should be just as effective in keeping out water as a swimming pool is in keeping it in!

If Not the Basement ... where?

Convert the garage into another room, and either build another garage or carport elsewhere. If you want a playroom or game room, add it where the children can be close to the kitchen and outdoors; If you need additional bedrooms, build them where you can use them comfortably - in a wing, or by adding a second floor doormer. If you want a laundry, add it near the bedrooms where the dirty clothing is discarded and the linen is stored, instead of putting the laundry in the basement. However, if you are still inclined to do something with the basement, be sure that there are, or that you build, two separate exits and that one of them leads directly to the outdoors in case of fire.

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