7 Things to Know About a Basement Finishing Project

Many homes in North Carolina have a huge potential asset their owners aren’t taking advantage of: the basement. Most basements in our area are large enough to create a whole new living area, but at the time of initial construction, they’re often left in a condition where they’re not useful for much more than laundry and storage.

If you want a way to quickly increase the livable square footage of your home and drive up the house’s value, a basement finishing project can turn the space you barely use into something comfortable and practical.

But if you’re going to take the plunge and invest in basement finishing for your home, there’s a few things you should be aware of going into the project.  

1. The right lighting is important.

Basements don’t have access to the natural lighting options you’re used to throughout the rest of your house. It can be easy for homeowners to underestimate how much light they really need. Getting the lighting right is an important consideration if you want to be happy with the end result of your basement finishing. Most homeowners will want plenty of recessed LED canned lights to get the right effect.

2.  Make sure you get proper permits and inspections.

Like any other addition to your house, you need to make sure you obey all the local laws when getting your basement finished. In North Carolina, you’ll need to apply for a number of permits and make sure all updates are in line with local building codes. Multiple inspections are required for your basement finishing project to stay on the right side of the law. If you don’t know the ins and outs of the process, you’ll need a good contractor who knows the system to help you navigate things or you can ask for help at the local building permit office.

3. Expect to add a whole new HVAC system.     

You can’t depend on the HVAC system you have for the rest of the house to properly heat and cool your basement as well. If you want the space to be comfortable year-round, expect to need a whole new HVAC system for the basement area itself. Installing one in the space will also require new ductwork and building chases or a tray ceiling to keep it concealed.

4. Your basement will need to be waterproofed.

If water can seep into your basement, you’ll face the risks of mold and costly water damage that ruins how safe and comfortable your finished basement will be. Luckily, many North Carolina homes built within the past twenty years were properly waterproofed when they were built.

But for older homes, a basement finishing project will generally include the need to excavate the area around the exterior of the basement in order to waterproof the space. While there are also methods you can consider for waterproofing the space from the inside, construction experts generally recommend outside waterproofing for better results.

5. Plan on making your basement match your upstairs.

If you want your finished basement to feel like a proper part of your home—and especially if you want future buyers to see it that way as well and value it accordingly—then it’s important to design your basement to match the rest of the house in style and quality. That means putting a true sheetrock ceiling in and making sure the trim and hardware in the finished basement matches the upstairs.

Even if you’re not planning to sell any time in the near future, it’s worth keeping those future potential buyers in mind when planning your basement finishing. Will they see the space as a natural extension of the home, or will it still have that unpleasant dungeon feel that unfinished basements have?

6. Expect a basic basement finishing project to last a few months.    

Having a finished basement offers some significant benefits, but getting it done is a pretty big project. You want to have realistic expectations going in. A basement finishing project for a home built in the last twenty years that includes standard features like a small kitchenette, a bedroom, bathroom, and a living room space, will generally cost at least $65 per foot and take 3 to 4 months to complete. But obviously the cost and time commitment of each project will vary based on the specific details.

7.  Don’t try to do it yourself (unless you’re a professional).

For home improvement projects like basement finishing, those with some DIY skill may consider taking on the job themselves. Even if you’re pretty good with basic around-the-house projects, tackling basement finishing on your own is unwise unless you’re a professional contractor.

Since basement finishing requires dealing with various plumbing and electrical parts that need to be rerouted and addressed, it would be far too easy for an amateur to make expensive or even dangerous mistakes. And because the project needs to be done according to local business codes and include the proper inspections, you’re better off hiring someone that knows the process well enough to keep you on the right side of local law.

Start Your Basement Finishing Project

If you’re considering turning your basement into a space your family can take more advantage of, make sure you find a skilled professional contractor to help you through the project. Fineline Construction has over 20 years of experience finishing basements in the Charlotte area.

We not only know how to navigate the local permits and building codes, we also know how to help homeowners evaluate all potential issues that might arise, and create a basement finishing plan that fits within your budget. To start getting the details of your plan into place, set up a consultation today.