Have you thought about finishing your basement and adding living space – an extra bedroom and bath, a home office, a media room, or even an apartment? There are many reasons why other families in Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland have improved their basements. A blog on the Basement Masters Waterproofing website, Seven Fabulous Uses for a Finished Basement, goes into more detail.
Before you do anything, however, you’ll want to consider steps you’ll need to take before adding living space to your basement. Basement Masters Waterproofing has a great deal of experience helping their customers get their basements ready for remodeling. The following blog explains a few of the key things you’ll need to have done before you hire a contractor to remodel your basement.
One of the biggest reasons families don’t consider finishing their basements is that the basement ceiling is simply too low. When many older homes were built, people didn’t even think about using the basement for additional living space. You didn’t need a high ceiling for your furnace, water heater, laundry facilities, or storage shelves. If you want to put in gym equipment, a room for family activities, a bathroom with a shower, or a kitchen area with cupboards and appliances, you definitely need the extra height.
The easiest way to “raise the ceiling” in a basement is actually to lower the basement floor. Basement Masters Waterproofing uses a process called underpinning to lower the foundation floor and make the basement deeper. Underpinning involves digging beneath the footings of the home (concrete that distributes the load of the foundation) and filling in additional concrete. Once complete, the basement floor can be dug deeper without undermining the support of the foundation walls. The advantage of underpinning is that you don’t need to raise the entire house higher off the ground and replace entrances, stairs, and porches.
While you are lowering the basement floor, you’ll want to make certain your home is structurally sound. Your foundation professionals will be able to diagnose and repair any cracks in your foundation walls, floors, or ceiling. If you are having problems with sticking windows and doors, sinking or uneven floors, or leaning chimneys, they will be able to correct any problems related to foundation settlement. Whatever repairs are made should last for many years, so you won’t need to worry about structural issues at a later time.
If your basement is not used for living space, you might not object to a musty odor or an occasional leak or puddle on the floor after a heavy rain. Once you put carpeting or flooring on the floor and fill the space with new upholstered furniture, beds, and electronic equipment, you won’t want to risk having moist air or standing water in the basement. You will definitely want to install an interior drainage system with a sump pump and a backup, battery-operated sump pump in case of a power outage.
Other things you’ll need to keep in mind is the location and configuration of the sewer line going to the street. You don’t want to risk having a sewer backup into the basement once you have filled it with new flooring and furniture! Your foundation professionals will be able to recommend an experienced plumber to take care of any additional plumbing and drainage issues.
If you plan to put in a bedroom and bath or new apartment, nearly all communities in Maryland and Virginia require installing an egress window and window well for escape in case of fire or other emergencies. Even if you don’t plan to use the basement as a sleeping area, some regulations require that any new basement remodeling project include plans for an egress window. In addition to the safety considerations, you’ll also welcome having the additional light for growing plants or having other benefits provided by an egress window.
If you decide to build your dream basement, contact Basement Masters Waterproofing to get it ready for you. We have experience using underpinning to lower basement floors so you have an adequate ceiling height. Also, we can work with your builder to coordinate placement of the egress windows, drainage system, and sump pump. We are highly rated by our customers and have won Angie’s List Super Service Award six years straight! Contact us today!
This post was originally published on 7/25/2017 and updated on 12/16/2021 for accuracy and a larger scope of information.