Should You Finish Your Basement?

You bought your house with its unfinished basement assuming it would suffice as a storage and laundry area. Now you’re having second thoughts about it. Turning it into a safe, comfortable recreation area seems tempting, but is it a wise decision to finish your basement? Before you decide to redo the underground level of your house, consider these factors.

Reasons you should finish the basement

The most obvious reason you should finish your home’s basement is that it creates more usable, livable space, which you already have the foundation for. If the rest of your house is cramped, especially if your family is growing, a finished basement would provide more elbow room. It has many potential uses: a playroom, a movie theater, an exercise room or an office.

That livable space impacts more than your comfort and convenience: it can impact your home’s value, too. According to Erin Eberlin of The Balance Small Business, a finished basement can add value to your property by functioning as an additional bedroom and/or bathroom, as long as you have at least two forms of egress. If so, you could list your home as having more bedrooms or bathrooms than it did when you bought it, which means you can sell it for more money.

Eberlin also points out that a finished basement is a great way to add onto your house if zoning codes limit above-ground additions on your property. As puts it, “Since the basement is already in place, you can increase your home’s living space without the hassle, additional labor and expenses that are common with traditional home addition projects.”

Reasons you should not finish the basement

Just because you can finish your basement doesn’t mean you should. You should carefully, thoughtfully weigh the costs and the payoff before deciding.

For instance, for as much money and time as it will take to finish the basement, will you actually utilize it more than you already do? Those grand dreams you have of hosting parties, entertaining houseguests, creating a hobby room or upgrading your exercise amenities might not be very practical. How will your daily life change so that you will spend more time in the basement? points out your current basement might not be as unusable as you think. You can still throw down area rugs and a couch for a lounge, a pool table or even a futon for sleeping guests. Investing a couple hundred dollars in a rug and a portable room divider might be a wiser option for you.

If you’re sure you’ll use the basement for its new purpose, make sure finishing it is a wise investment. Jeanne Huber of This Old House warns it could take a lot of repairs to prepare your basement for finishing. If condensation forms along the floor or walls, the foundation could not be fully sealed. The floor could sag in areas that would need flattened. The ceiling may not be high enough once you cover up the pipes and wiring with tiles or drywall. If your current unfinished basement isn’t up to snuff, it could be more of a money pit than a value increaser.

If you’re considering finishing your home’s basement, talk with an expert and get a consultation or estimate to see how much money and work it would take to make your dream come true.

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