1. Before starting any work on your basement, the first thing to do is make sure there are no foundation problems that need to be addressed and no water issues that could damage your newly finished work. The last thing you want is to finish putting in your drywall and flooring and then have water come in the house and ruin everything. Also, if you have had water in the basement in the past, make sure there are no signs of mold before you start closing up the walls, floors and ceilings. If you do find signs of foundation issues or water problems, or if you are unsure of what to look for, talk to a basement waterproofing contractor or foundation repair expert.
2. Get the required building permits and ensure that everything is done according to your local building code.
3. In most homes, the basement is the coolest area of the house. Think ahead as to the type of heating and ventilation that will be required once it’s finished. In most cases, a good central home heating system should be able to address your basement needs.
4. When planning the layout of your basement, keep in mind that there are already load bearing walls and beams. Rather than try to relocate these, try to work around them or implement them into your design. Ductwork, electrical wiring and plumbing should be in the ceiling so they are out of the way but easily accessible.
5. Installing suspended ceiling tiles gives you easy access to you electrical and plumbing systems, particularly if you have any problems or improvements to address down the road. You don’t have to use the old 2 by 4 foot tiles of yesteryear, there are some really nice looking tiles available on the market today. If you opt to put in a drywall ceiling, you will need to install access panels so you can get at the systems in the ceiling.
6. Since most basements have low ceilings and fewer/smaller windows than the main floor, good lighting, and lots of it, is essential to a well-finished basement. Recessed lighting (pot lights) is great since you can avoid hanging fixtures from a low ceiling.
Finishing a basement is an extensive do-it-yourself home improvement project. Be prepared for the time commitment involved and make sure you budget appropriately ahead of time. Once completed, your finished basement will give you plenty of extra square footage of useable space and add value to your home.