What to Look For As You Plan Your Finished Basement Project
Follow these two principles as you plan your finished basement project and we guarantee you will be delighted with the results.
1. Get A Professional Design
Above all, you should have a complete and professional design done at the outset of your finished basement project. This is the only way to guarantee that you will:
- Use and enjoy the space like you intended.
- Avoid misunderstandings which result in a much higher final cost than you expected.
- Get it done on time and on budget.
- Get the best value for your money.
- Maximize your return on investment upon resale.
Use And Enjoyment
What do you feel when you think of the word basement? Dark? Cold? Dusty? Cluttered? Maybe even spooky? Do you like to be down there? Chances are, you'd rather be somewhere else.
So the first secret of finished basement success is to come up with a design that removes the basement stigma from your space. You must change the look and feel to that of another living level...an inviting and seamless extension of your home.
In other words, if your basement still feels like a basement when it's done, you may part with a bundle of cash for something you will never—or rarely—use.
You probably would not finish your basement if you planned to move soon. But we live in fast times. You never know. So resale value is important.
Hard data for home improvement resale values is hard to come by. After all, these costs aren't itemized in resale asking prices and you can't buy a finished basement separately.
Fortunately, there is help in this area. Remodeling Magazine surveys realtors throughout the United States to get estimates of home improvement resale values. Estimates for finished basements range from 37% to 115% of original cost nationwide.
The factors that most influence finished basement resale values include:
- How well your lower-level space complements your main living areas.
- The basement should feel like it was built when the house was and have the fun additions that the main floor might be missing.
- Inclusion of key features like bedrooms and bathrooms in your design.
- The scarcity of homes in your area.
Finally, if you follow the "use and enjoyment" principles we noted above and insist on high-quality design and construction, you will further maximize your resale value.
In our FREE Homeowners Protection Pack, we show you how "saving" $10,000 on a $40,000 finished basement can actually cost you $8,000-$18,000 in the end. Or, looking at it another way, how that $10,000 could bring in a 275% to 625% return on investment when you sell your home.
Getting The Best Deal
Every expert in our industry will give you the same advice: get multiple bids to make sure you aren't getting ripped off. That's good advice.
But the fact is, people still screw up this step badly—but not because they fail to get multiple bids. Rather, it is because they have no idea if the bids they received are at all comparable.
Using a square foot price to determine what your basement might cost is a flawed and misleading method. Here's why: If you have a nicely designed bathroom that costs $5000 for instance and you have a 500 square foot basement, that bathroom costs $10 per foot. That same bathroom in 2000 square feet is only $2.50 per foot. So if a contractor tells you a square foot price without actually basing it on an accurate design, that one room alone can have a margin of error of as much as $7.50.
If you want to learn how to solicit and compare bids properly, get our FREE Homeowners Protection Pack. And remember, American Basement Company is the ONLY company that removes 100% of the risk from this process.
Avoiding Change Orders
If you want to avoid costly change orders, disappointing results, or both, you must get an accurate and professional design before you sign your contract.
Your design should include 3D elevations and renderings. This is because what happens above the floor is especially important—and challenging—in finished basement design.
Designing a basement is harder than you might imagine. Basements pose unique design challenges:
- How to conceal pipes, poles, soffits, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical.
- How to provide adequate light and safe egress.
- How to deal with stairs, water heaters and furnaces that are in the way.
- How to create inviting areas that complement the rest of your home.
Summary On Design
Complete, skilled and accurate design is critical if you want to use and enjoy your basement as intended, maximize resale value, get comparable and reliable estimates, and avoid costly change orders. Don't short-cut the process.
2. Hire A Company With Genuine Design-Construction Expertise
Great design doesn't happen by accident. It takes skill, experience, and attitude.
So when you evaluate contractors for your finished basement addition, resist the temptation to chase the lowest bid or hire the "nice-guy" handyman. Look for a company with proven design-construction expertise.
Elsewhere on our web site and in our Homeowners Protection Pack, we talk about why American Basement is uniquely qualified to do this work and how we make the process of planning and contracting your job as easy and risk-free as possible.