Creating a Basement Apartment – Part 2

by Carmen Corbin on December 31, 2011

Whether you’re an empty nester couple who has just sent your youngest child off to college, or an enterprising new homeowner looking for some extra income, a basement apartment is a great way to make use of extra space in your home.  There’s a lot to think about when you decide to become a landlord, but if you start with a good plan, it can be a win-win situation for both you and your tenant.

Design Considerations

Kitchen:  Unless your tenant plans on exclusive microwave cooking, you’ll have to think about building a kitchen in the basement, or at least a small kitchenette.  Proper ventilation will have to be considered, as well as an adequate amount of electrical outlets for appliances.  If you want to save some money (who doesn’t?), think about buying used appliances in good condition, or asking your local home improvement store about a buying last year’s floor model.

Bathroom:  Many basements already contain a half bath, or at least the rough-in plumbing for a basement bathroom, but if you’re starting from scratch, consulting with a bathroom remodeling contractor is an important step.  To avoid moisture problems from tub and shower use, you’ll also need to discuss installing a bathroom fan.

Lighting:  A single dangling light bulb might have been fine for your unfinished basement, but a finished basement apartment will need a little more working light, especially if the windows are small or non-existent.  Your tenant will probably fill in with a lamp or two as well, but a ceiling light fixture in each major area will provide a good base for illumination.

Storage:  In addition to bedroom closets, think about building a linen closet and even a general purpose closet (if space allows) for bikes, sporting equipment and extra items.  Lack of storage space can be a deal breaker for some renters.

Paint Colors:  Because your basement doesn’t get as much natural light as the upstairs, choose lighter colors to brighten things up.  Or, paint the apartment in a neutral color and let your tenant repaint it in the color of their choice (with a minimum 6-month lease).

Flooring:  Wall-to-wall carpeting can make concrete floors a little warmer, but some property owners prefer to just paint the concrete floor and let their tenants bring in area rugs.  Tile or hardwood floors can be expensive, but would be very aesthetically appealing to prospective renters.

For more ideas on how to create a basement apartment, call or visit your local home improvement contractor.

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