Basement Remodeling the Smart Way

Remodeling your basement is a no-brainer.pioneer (9)  Right?  It’ll give you the much needed space your family requires.  Also, it’ll increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to buyers when you sell.

Or not.  Contrary to what many people believe a finished basement isn’t always a good return on investment.  Depending on how you do the remodeling you may only break even or actually decrease the value of your home.

The smart way to avoid making a big expensive mistake is to “think” first and “do” second.  Here are some areas to consider.

Resale                                                                                                                                         

How long do you plan on being in the house?  Turning your basement into a Brown’s multi-media, wet bar, Dog Pound complex is fine if you’re going to be in the house for many years. But, if you’re planning on selling in 5 years or less you probably should rethink it. 

Most buyers look for the basics: is it dry, is the wiring up to code and can it handle today’s electronic needs, are the ceilings high enough, is there any natural light and is it a functional space which can be adapted to their needs?  (Putting a toilet next to the washer and dryer doesn’t make it a bathroom.)  They want good quality, neutral walls, ceilings and floors. 

Determine the requirements of the project

Intelligent remodelers do their homework to determine the practicability and ultimate outcomes of their project ideas.  For example, in case of fire, most cities require a bedroom to have a proper exit, which must lead directly outside.  It can’t be a door that leads to another room.   Where are you going to put a window in an underground basement? 

Here are just a few things to think about and determine.  What are the daily requirements of living with the project?  What utilities are going to be turned off and for how long?  How are the workers going to be going in and out?  Are they going to be alone in the house?  How do you find a good contractor?  What’s your budget and how are you financing it?

Be realistic about money

Dreams of craft rooms, kids’ play areas and man caves are exciting – why else would you be thinking of remodeling your basement?  But, they should be mixed with reality.  Look at your basement with a critical eye.  How are you going to work around 4 support poles, a sump pump, an electrical box and 2 drains in the floor?  And how much is it going to cost?

Adding a bathroom?  What about ventilation?  Truly evaluate current and future water/moisture concerns, as well as the expense of fixing them.  It’s almost impossible to live in Northeast Ohio and not know someone who’s ignored their basement water/moisture problems, resulting in expensive repairs to their basement. 

A basement remodel is a big investment in time, money and energy.  It’s worth the effort to do it smart.  You know someone who didn’t think a home remodel or project through before they acted, we all do.  Don’t be that person.


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.