Sunday, October 25, 2015

          From Dreadful to Dreamy

  Halloween being next week lead me to discussing that place of childhood nightmares, the basement. My nightmare involved some unknown force attempted to drag me into the depths of its darkness by way of a strong vacuum-like wind. I am sure I am not alone when I recall moments of fear concerning our basement. I can remember challenging myself by turning off the light st the bottom of the stairs and racing up them, all the while fearing something was going to reach of of the darkness and grab me.

     Often a basement is just a subterranean space below your home that usually is dimly lit, sometimes damp, and home to all kinds of creepy crawly bugs. It is used as a additional storage space, a place that is utilitarian and not a place to hang out. You throw your belongings or seasonal decorations down there and shut off the light and, admit it, get the heck out of there as quickly as possible.

  It is possible to transform this into a beautiful space but, obviously lots of work needs to be done to make that happen. You may have the know how to address these issues but, obviously it will require the will and cash to do it. Of course there are also plenty of professionals who can do it for you as well. It can potentially be very expensive. The thing to consider though is it will expand the livable and usable  square footage of your home dramatically.

  As you can see from this photo, if you neglect to address your excessive dampness first it can cause all kinds of damage and extra work and obviously more cash.  It is also noteworthy that mold can be a major health risk so if you have a area of mold larger than 10 square feet you should contact professionals to clean it up. If you are lucky you don't need to worry about anything more than a dehumidifier to deal with this since there is no major source of water or you can change the grading around your foundation to slope away from the house. You may need to contact a professional to take on the problem.
   Framing out your basement leaves you with more choices. The fact that your basement is home to your houses mechanical equipment means you have to frame around these vents, pipes and beams. This can be painfully obvious when deciding on how to finish your basements ceiling. The easy and logical solution is a drop ceiling. Albeit it is not nearly as attractive as a dry-walled one, the practicality of it is you have ready access to your plumbing should a problem arise. If you opt for the drywall, make sure there are access panels to shut-offs and drain traps.

  The next decision you need to make is whether you want to include a toilet in your basement. If you choose the traditional method on the left, the floor needs to be cut/broken into and the plumbing installed. The problem with this is, unless you want a long trench cut into your floor for drainage to your main stack you are limited in where your bathroom can be placed.
  The picture on the right is a newer idea that eliminates the need to break up the concrete and allow you to place your toilet anywhere you have access to an electrical source and you can run some piping. These systems are new but they work like a charm and its very obvious why they are a very appealing option.
 Carefully consider electrical outlet placement, cable, internet accesses and lighting if you are doing this yourself or share you thoughts with your contractor.

    Now time to pick a flooring option. You of course could just choose to paint the concrete and be done with it. The advantage with this is you need not worry about any spills or possible limited water intrusion. An indoor/outdoor carpeting is another choice or wood flooring and even tile. Regardless of your choice of floor covering, I would opt for a good underlayment like the one pictured. The dimpled rubber layer allows for any dampness that does happen to get in to dry due to the air flow underneath. This would also make a slightly warmer floor possible compared to bare concrete.

   This is a huge undertaking and can have costs run into the tens of thousands depending on how you finish it. Even if you have the knowledge and will to do this project it will be expensive and time consuming. The bottom line though is you will have a huge return in so much as way more livable space in your home. A place where your kids can play or where you can entertain. Then there is the fact that it will increase the value of your home.

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