If you need a little extra living space, the basement could be your best and most economical resource
You may dream of a quiet home office area, a place to set up a few pieces of exercise equipment, or perhaps you have a hobby that needs a home. Take a look at the basement and see what living space could be utilized for any of these needs. Whether planning an elaborate or simple configuration - from a corner to a complete entertainment room, it is usually more economically to convert the basement than to plan an add-on above ground.
First, though, you must create a plan for the area and be sure that moisture is not an issue. There are many products on the market today that can be applied from the inside. These will prohibit water vapors from ruining your new space. The most important addition to a room, however, could be the flooring. A basement is always capable of flooding, so choose wisely. Avoid carpets or wood and stick to laminates or tile. You can always place nice thick area rugs around to warm your feet and deaden sounds.
There are a few steps that will require the help of a professional: the electrical wiring and the plumbing. For a bathroom installation, especially, you should enlist the aid of an expert. For standard toilets, a portion of the foundation will have to be removed. Some new commode models, though, are designed to pipe vertically through the wall and upward. These are well worth checking out.
Doorways are another precaution; they should be wider than normal, especially if you are leaving some space unclaimed for storage. You may not own a freezer, a pool table or other large accessory purchase, now, but if it's in your future, you want plenty of clearance for moving large-scale items in.
Acoustics and tray ceilings are most practical for a basement. These provide plenty of access for wiring and light installations. Tray ceilings, which look just like inverted trays with sloping edges - are more attractive and will add height to the feel of a basement room. Recessed lights and flush mounts are also recommended. Most basements have lower ceilings to begin with and these will create the illusion of space.
You may want to invest in a good dehumidifier that will keep vapors at bay. Good units can run 24/7 and leave the room feeling fresh and dry while smaller, more economical portables require some babysitting to empty reservoirs.
When planning any extensive remodeling project, always abide by local building codes. It may also be helpful to consult with an engineer who can assess the condition of your foundation, especially if any cracks are present in the slab or walls. Expansions are never cheap, so it's best to do it right the first time.
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