Basement Finishing Makes The Most Of Space You Have

There’s a full basement beneath almost every home in Madison WI. For some it’s used efficiently. For others basement refinishing is an ideal option. Even older homes have basements that are candidates for a designer’s touch. In many cases you can expand your living space by hundreds of square feet. If you’re living in a traditional ranch-style house with a full basement you can almost double your living area!

Is your basement a catch-all and storage overflow? With forethought and planning a basement becomes an active element in the family’s daily routine. If you’re planning to make your home for years to come in the house you have or are looking to move on soon, a basement renovation adds value.

We were especially happy from my husband’s first contact until the project was finished. Staff was professional, helpful, patient and knowledgeable. Our job was difficult from the very beginning and we couldn’t be happier how it was handled. We recommend Sims to others.

Diane & Brian B – Madison, WI

Evaluate Your Basement Finishing Investment

Is a basement remodel a wise investment? Only you can determine what’s right for your family and lifestyle. As you evaluate options, consider the basics of every basement project:

  • Walls and ceilings – Drywall on basement walls adds a finished touch. Paint is the obvious covering for basement walls. As you choose paint don’t overlook bright colors. Light colors make a confined space seem bigger. Your basement ceiling can be drywall or tiles specifically designed for a basement remodel.
  • Basement Lighting – one reason basements are underutilized is the lack of efficient lighting. Do your family members shy away from the basement because “it’s too dark down there.” Installing recessed ceiling lights between overhead floor joists makes the most of available space.
  • Available natural light – if you can expand or enlarge basement windows. Natural light makes any room more inviting, especially in finished lower levels. NOTE: if you’re planning a basement bedroom an egress window is mandatory. Be sure to keep that in mind as you plan a basement remodel even if a basement bedroom isn’t a high priority today.
  • Upgraded stairs – when they first went in the “basement stairs” didn’t get much attention. When you plan to finish a lower level, give the stairway a top priority. Leading to a renewed living space they become as important as stairs leading to a second floor. Always take into account efficient lighting and safety features.
  • Utilities – you want your remodeled basement to have all the comfort and convenience as the rest of the house, right? That means heat/cooling and electricity everywhere. Don’t overlook the importance of space for the furnace, water heater and other essentials. You’ll have to be able to easily change filters, etc. NOTE: pay close attention to sound-proofing the area around the furnace and moisture-proofing areas around sinks, softeners and water heaters.

Make The Most Of A Finished Basement

So, you want to finish your basement. Finish it into what, exactly? There are so many options it’s hard to keep track. But, you’ve moved well beyond the “man cave” haven’t you. The concept of creating a “cave” in the basement has given way to more appealing thoughts of retreats and comfort spots. Picture you and the family in:

  • An expanded family room for entertaining friends and family.
  • A game room – where you come to play and watch. Would a Bucky Badger or Green Bay Packers theme excite you?
  • A home theater or media center.
  • Your own personal pub.
  • On a more productive side consider:
  • A workout room for your treadmill and home gym.
  • An additional bathroom with shower – maybe room for a sauna?
  • Space dedicated to hobbies and crafts.
  • A fully-equipped workshop.
  • In the era of “work from home” a fully-equipped home office.
  • An updated, inviting laundry room.

As you look at your existing house as a “forever” home breathing life into the basement makes more and more sense. As family dynamics change so do demands for space. Would adding a basement bedroom or two now cater to your children today – and maybe grandkids in the future?

 You have to gaze into your personal crystal ball to know what’s best. Let your imagination run free. Organize your thoughts and build upon ideas.

“…they were efficient, professional, and timely. They did the exterior of our home and we are extremely pleased with their work. I would highly recommend them to anyone.”

James G. – Google Review – 08/24/2019

Basements are unique spaces when used right. Secluded and private they are ideal gathering places. Teens and young adults enjoy relaxing space – and room for a big-screen TV! A well-planned finished basement makes the most of the space beneath your feet.

When Redoing The Basement – Look Closely

Is your basement potential disguised as a huge storage closet? There are features influencing what you can and cannot do. An early inspection of what you have provides insight into the possibilities. Look closely at:

Your home’s foundation –begin with the basement walls inside and outside. Are there cracks or signs of stress? A professional inspection is worth every penny, especially for older homes.

Signs of water problems – has there been water damage? Do you get water in the basement with every heavy rain? An inspector may reveal areas where water seeped in and you’re unaware of it. Water issues don’t stop you from finishing the basement but dealing with them is important. Spend time and money now to find the cause and stop the leak. It’s a lot cheaper than putting in new flooring, walls or furniture isn’t it?

Heating/Cooling – because they are below grade (below ground), basements are warmer in winter and cooler in summer. During basement finishing, pay attention to how duct work is routed. The ducts feeding the upper floors are in the ceiling of your basement rooms.

Basement floors – what kind of floor do you want? Almost anything is possible with the right preparation. Inspect the existing basement floor looking for cracks or chips. Fixing or replacing concrete could be the first step.

Because basements are below ground they don’t react to outside influences like the rest of the house. They can be damp and cool in summer and dry and warm in winter. As your plans develop, always include the most energy-efficient systems and products. Make sure all the outside-facing walls are insulated and have a moisture barrier. Get all air leaks sealed around pipes, wires coming in from outside and old basement windows. Replacing the windows is an ideal solution. 

Combating Moisture In Basements, Lower Levels

The No. 1 concern for most homeowners pondering basement finishing or lower level remodels is the threat of moisture. Unwanted water in the basement can be more than a nuisance. Moisture leads to mold and mildew. It destroys wallboard, ceiling materials, flooring, framing and furnishings. The obvious first defense is a reliable seal on the poured concrete or cement block walls – inside and outside.

High-tech product development is a top priority throughout the building industry. Products contributing to comfortable dry basements include:

  • Moisture-resistant wall and ceilings panels.
  • Flooring materials for installation over concrete with moisture, mold and mildew resistant pads.
  • Metal framing materials and techniques replacing wooden studs.
  • Environmentally-friendly paints with fewer emissions. Many are also stain resistant.
  • Custom Lighting – ideal for use between floor joists, etc.
  • Windows – for natural light and to provide for safe egress (escape). Basement window designs and placement must carefully follow building codes, especially if a bedroom is added.

Basement Windows – What Is An Egress Window

The law says that if your basement finishing plans include a bedroom – or you think you might use a room as a bedroom sometime – it has to have an egress window. Egress is a fancy word for “a way out.” Having an egress window in a newly remodeled basement makes sense with or without a bedroom. And, even if you have a walkout lower level a bedroom has to have an escape route so if it’s away from the walkout you may need to put in a special window. Building codes make it clear a bedroom has to have a window large enough for an adult to crawl out and access a clear path to the ground outside.

The safety of guests and family is always worth the effort, isn’t it? And there’s an added reward from building in a window of this size – a surprising amount of natural light. When it comes to natural light, the biggest window you can use is always best.

Basement Finishing Pays Today and In The Future

Expanding your day-to-day living space with a finished basement has a huge and immediate impact on your family. In addition, it has a similar impact on the resale value of your home. Are you reluctant to make what you know is a big commitment? The most recent Cost vs. Value survey from Remodeling magazine puts the average payback on basement finishing at more than 70%. A resale return of more than 70 cents on the dollar is strong investment. And as more and more people spend more time at home – working and relaxing – the value isn’t going down. A basement remodel is among the best home improvement investments.

Amazing job…well done! Thanks so much!

Brian W – Madison, WI

Is it time to move your home’s basement from a glorified storage room to family living space? Sims Exteriors & Remodeling fields teams of skilled, experienced craftsmen covering every aspect of home remodeling. They’re knowledge of building techniques is second to none. The images here are just a taste of what we can do.

Would you like to get together and discuss the potential sitting beneath your first floor? We’d love to hear your ideas and we’ll share some of our own. You can bet there are possibilities we’ve discovered you’ve never thought of.

When you’re ready to explore all the options for expanding features in your basement or home’s lower level call Sims Exteriors & Remodeling at 608-825-4500. Or email us to begin the process.

We apply decades of experience, a commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail to every basement remodel. Let us share with you how to dramatically expand the versatility and benefit of space you already have with a basement finishing plan for your Madison WI area home.