Many homeowners who are seeking extra space (or some additional privacy) opt for a finished basement instead of a more expensive and time-consuming home addition. Basement remodels have lots of practical uses, such as: storage area, family room, media or recreation center, home office, man cave, children’s playroom or a guest room. Finishing a basement is also generally a good investment. The National Association of Realtors estimates that a finished basement returns approximately 64% of the homeowner’s investment. Finishing a basement may not be as complex as a full addition, but it still has many components to consider and manage. Here’s what to expect when finishing a basement in Maryland, as well as some tips to make the process a little smoother.
What “Finished” Means
An unfinished basement may be useful as a laundry area or even as an open indoor playspace where children can ride tricycles or rollerskate, but it is not considered part of the living area of the house. To be considered “finished” and be included in the home’s total square footage for real estate appraisal purposes, the basement must be warm, safe and suitable for living. This means it must have heat, lighting, flooring, drywall, waterproofing and fire exits. Depending on the size of the basement and the type of remodel (basic, mid-range or luxury), experts estimate the cost of a basement renovation to range between $22K to $46K. To help ensure your basement remodel turns out to be everything you wanted, it’s best to spend a little extra time up front in the planning process.
Electrical Considerations for Finished Basements
Before starting any remodel or new construction project, it is always important to carefully consider what features you are looking for and understand how they will impact the project budget and timeline. Think about how you and your family are most likely to use the finished basement – both now and in the near future. Then, work with a licensed electrical contractor to develop a wiring plan, including all light switches or dimmers, electrical outlets and appliances. The electrical contractor will also help determine if your current electrical system needs to be upgraded to meet the demands of your new basement. Here are some additional tips for planning your basement lighting and electrical system:
- Work with a local electrical contractor to ensure your basement is in compliance with all county, state and federal electrical codes.
- Ensure all stairways and entryways are properly lit, with easily accessible, bright lighting to avoid trip hazards or other accidents.
- Take all precautions to avoid the possibility of a flooded basement. Inquire about mounting electrical outlets high enough so that flooding would be less likely to cause major electrical system damage.
- Consider whether you should install a sump pump or take other waterproofing actions. Water can wreak havoc on any basement. In addition to damaging the electrical system, it can create other costly problems as well.
- Install GFCI outlets as needed in any area that could become damp or wet, such as a basement laundry room or bathroom.
- Ensure all exposed wire is run through a conduit.
- Consider both insulation and sound-dampening properties when selecting wall and flooring materials.
- Plan out all basement lighting prior to starting construction. For example, recessed lighting will need to be installed prior to the drywall.
- Basement floors are often very cold during the winter months. Ask your electrician about the possibility of installing radiant heat floors.
- Consult with a contractor to determine whether electric or gas heat would be the best option for your basement.
With the right planning, your basement may easily become the most comfortable space in your home.