7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Finishing Your Basement

If you're looking for more usable space in your home, your basement could be a great way to provide you and your family with the room that you might not have on the above-grade floors. If your basement is currently unfinished, finishing it might be the perfect way to add that coveted space you've been dreaming of.

But before you finish your basement, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself first.

Is it Dry?

Before you ever finish your basement - or any other space in your home - it's imperative that you check to make sure that there are no water or moisture issues. If you cover up any water problems, you risk having to rip everything out to fix the issue. Finishing your basement is not a cheap task, so you want to make sure that the area is completely dry before you lay flooring and put up drywall. 

Tell-tale signs of water issues include water drips, pools of water, yellowish stains, musty odors, and even cracks in the foundation. If there are any issues, be sure to have these repaired first before you finish the basement.

What Are the Local Building Codes?

You might have an idea of what you want to do with your basement, but you will have to check with the city before you take hammer to nail. There will likely be specific building codes that are in effect that you will have to abide by. Speak with a representative in the building code department at the city to see what the codes are and what required permits may be needed before work starts.

Should You Consider Noise Control?

A finished basement is a great way to enjoy a rec room, additional family room, home office, or even an in-law suite. But you might want to think about insulating the ceiling above the basement in order to control the amount of noise created by all the foot traffic upstairs. 

It might cost you an extra few hundred bucks, but it can make a world of difference in the amount of pounding you'll hear on the main level from all those feet walking by. This is especially important if you plan to finish the basement to be used as a rental unit. 

Do You Have a Financial Cushion?

You may have budgeted for the specific type of job at hand, but like most other home improvement projects, the unforeseen can happen which can end up costing you more than you initially anticipated. 

If that happens, you'll need to make sure that you've got the extra funds needed to make that happen. If not, you could be stuck with a job unfinished. Always budget for at least an extra 10% of the expected cost of the job in case something happens that requires extra money. 

Do You Have Adequate Headroom?

Many older homes tend to have very low basement ceilings, which can get in the way of comfort, especially if you're on the tall side. Don't forget that the ceiling height will drop after the ceiling drywall is installed to cover up ductwork, plumbing pipes, and electrical wires. Keep this in mind before you decide to finish your basement.

What Are Your Drainage Requirements?

If you're only finishing the basement to create a rec room or playroom for the kids, you probably won't have to worry about extra plumbing. But if you're installing a bathroom or a kitchen with a dishwasher and sink, you'll definitely have to add some plumbing pipes to account for the necessary drainage. 

If the plumbing has already been roughed in, half the work is already done. But adding a completely new plumbing system in a new spot where no plumbing previously existed could be a big job. In this case, be sure to hire an experienced plumber and account for the added cost of this job.

Have You Thought of a Window of Egress?

Unless you've got a walk-out basement that allows direct access to the outdoors, you'll need to make sure that you've got windows that are large enough for a human to escape through. This will be a requirement according to building fire codes if you plan to finish the basement into a separate unit. Other than that, you should think about the type of windows that you'd like to install, including the size, the number of panes, and whether or not they'll be able to open. 

Should You Sell?

Of course, there's always the option to sell your home if the size of your current home no longer cuts it for you and your family and finishing the basement won't provide you with a solution. If that's the case, make sure to get a seasoned real estate team on your side to help you find the right home that checks everything off your list and sell your current home as quickly as possible and for the right price.