When you go down into your basement, will it be a haven for your family, or a scary place where unopened boxes go?… out of sight, out of mine. Has the shag carpet sat there since the early 2000s, or is the flooring clean and functional? It may be time for a basement renovation – if the price is right. For many homeowners, renovating the basement makes sense as an investment in the home. In some situations, the money you will spend will not come back to you when you sell the house. So let’s take a look at some of the benefits – and some of the potential drawbacks.

Counting the cost

Let’s take a look at the cost, which has several factors involved. How large is your basement? What type of rooms do you want to create in the space? What sort of finishing materials do you want to use? Are you in a major city, or are you in the suburbs – or out in the country? What is the housing market like in your part of Canada right now? Adding a bathroom or including a kitchen renovation in your basement plan can increase the budget significantly. So can plush finishings such as crown molding and hardwood floors. If your finishings are more basic, expect your budget to run between $25 and $35 per square foot, going near $50 per square foot if your finishings are more luxurious.

Benefits of a basement renovation

A basement renovation can bring multiple benefits, starting with the jump in living space. Finishing out the basement can as much as double your livable space much more cheaply than putting an addition on the house at ground level. The basement can become a playroom, a “man cave,” or a guest suite, for example.

The resale value of your house can increase significantly after a basement renovation. The more homes in your neighborhood have unfinished basements, the more your own home’s value will go up if you finish it out. Your home will have significantly more livable space, and it should sell more quickly.

Privacy can come at a premium, particularly as your family grows. When one of your kids has three friends over, another kid has a loud TV show blaring, and a third kid is blasting music upstairs, then Mom and Dad may need to sneak down to the basement for some quiet relaxation. Of course, Mom and Dad can also send the kids down to the basement to go crazy – and if you have room for a ping-pong table or some other fun equipment downstairs, your basement might be the most popular one on the block.

Possible Drawbacks

Remember that the cost for your basement renovation can be significant. If you’re upside down on the house right now (you owe more than the current market value), you should wait. 

There are a couple of other disadvantages, such as the time that it takes. Going into the basement can mean tying up part of your house on the ground floor while the renovation crew finishes the project, which can last weeks or even months. 

There is also the risk of investing money without getting the appropriate return. Kitchen renovation and bathroom renovation projects tend to pay off at resale time more than basement renovation products, and if there are more visible parts of the house that also need an upgrade (and if you plan to sell in the short term), it makes sense to knock out those other projects first.

Finally, moisture can cause problems. Humidity will be higher in the basement than elsewhere in the house, which means that the likelihood of a musty smell and mold on the walls is also higher. If the humidity levels in your basement are frequently higher than 50 percent, then considering adding a dehumidifier to the cost of the basement renovation can make a lot of sense.

Planning the project

What do you want to put in your basement? Will it be a workshop, a media room, a playroom, or a bedroom-and-bathroom for your mother-in-law? The plans you have for the space will determine the finishing requirements.

Is the plan realistic given the space that you have? A large basement should be divisible into smaller rooms. However, if you have a small basement, that plan might not work. Start by calculating the square footage in the space to figure out if it makes sense to plan more than one room. A larger, more open concept is more likely to appeal to potential home buyers than small, dark rooms that make the basement feel claustrophobic.

Be willing to think outside the box. You might already have a playroom, a media room and plenty of guest space up at ground level. However, a basement could turn into your wine cellar, a room to work on your craft or home improvement projects, or a place to brew your homemade beer.

Create your budget, and make sure that the numbers are realistic. Make sure that you don’t need the money you are spending on your basement renovation for anything else, because it’s just not worth the stress and hassle of going into significant debt.

Remember to get bids from at least three contractors before making your choice. Make sure that you get in touch with references for a contractor before you sign the deal. The Better Business Bureau has information about contractors that you would use for this project. Checking out your potential contractor on review apps like Yelp and neighborhood apps such as Nextdoor can bring you more information about their performance – although bear in mind that people are much more likely to leave negative than positive reviews.

Having a hard time getting bank financing for your basement renovation (or your kitchen renovation)? Amansad Financial has helped many clients get the funding they need for renovation projects from private and other non-traditional sources. See if you pre-qualify at this link: https://amansadfinancial.com/prequalification/ for an assessment that will not show up on your credit report. We look forward to helping you today!

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