The key to creating a finished basement that gets used and brings maximum resale value is design. And it’s not as simple as it looks.
Finished basements pose unique design challenges. Obstructions like poles, pipes, soffits, HVAC, electrical, furnaces, stairs, water heaters and foundation anomalies all conspire to make designing comfortable, appealing lower-level living spaces a challenging task.
But that is not all. Every basement is born with a negative stigma. Basements have long been exploited by authors, screenwriters and directors as settings for eerie mysteries and frightening encounters. These psychological impressions stick with us forever.
What’s more, the concept of down gets little respect in our English society. There’s the bottom of the totem pole, the lowest rung on the ladder, getting sent down to the minors and more. Up is good. Down is bad.
So how do you overcome all of these problems in a way that doesn’t come across like a cheap retrofit? How do you turn your spooky old basement into an inviting and seamless extension of your home? The key is design. So when you hire a contractor, look for someone with proven design-construction expertise.
Unfortunately, many basement contractors are little more than handymen or construction laborers trading up to the lure of bigger jobs. Their idea of good design may be to install drywall around everything they see. The result? Your basement still feels like a basement when it’s done.
- Beautiful open layouts
- Elegant wood window surrounds
- Hand-crafted, coffered ceilings with up-lighting accents
- Exquisite granite or ceramic tile countertops and floors
- Open staircases with wooden handrails
- Crown molding
- Rounded drywall corners
- Art niches lit just right
- Generous lighting
- Move water heaters, furnaces, plumbing and HVAC that inhibit efficient use of space or attainment of open design layouts
- Compensate for irregularities in support structures, floors or foundation walls
- Insulate ceilings so you don’t feel like the tenant in a first-floor apartment and get to enjoy the sounds of toilets flushing on the main floor.
It’s hard to believe, but many contractors still design and bid basements based on hand sketches. This can only get you in trouble.
Others deliver professional-looking 2D drawings or blueprints, but get this: Have you ever tried to visualize the “look and feel” of a living space from a 2D floor plan? It’s impossible!
Today’s top design software for building and architectural professionals can produce dynamic 3D renderings of your design space in addition to professional blueprints. If your design contractor isn’t providing these 3D renderings, you are missing out on the most crucial element of planning. The computers and software just aren’t that expensive. It’s just the effort and the care that’s missing.
Seeing your space in 3D can both stimulate your imagination and help you catch issues that you might otherwise never have done until it’s too late or too costly to correct.