Own a Home in the Baltimore/Washington Area: DIY That Unfinished Basement

Niecie Draper
Published on August 20, 2017

Own a Home in the Baltimore/Washington Area: DIY That Unfinished Basement

Even if you aren’t considering selling your home in the near future, a finished basement offers more living space – something most Homeowners in the Baltimore/Washington Area dream about.

If you are considering selling, you’ll recoup 70 percent of the cost of the remodel, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report. Furthermore, keeping your basement-finish budget to no more than 10 percent of your home’s appraised value makes it a smart investment, Lending Tree Home Pros’ Neil Salvage tells HGTV.

And, you won’t be alone. The National Association of Home Builders places the project as the third most requested, behind kitchen and bath remodels and additions.

The nationwide average cost of a basement remodel is between $10,583 and $27,103, according to HomeAdvisor. But, some homeowners pay as little as $4,800.

You don’t necessarily have to go full-blown remodel to whip that basement into shape. Use a few of these Do It Your Self (DYI) ideas to turn your unfinished basement into a pleasant livable area that will add value to your home.

Wet Basements Aren’t Livable

More than 60 percent of homes with a basement have leaks, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. Furthermore, 38 percent of those homes run the risk of developing basement mold. So, before you tackle the decorating and design aspects of your unfinished basement, undertake the repairs necessary to set a good, healthy foundation for all of your hard work.

You’ll need to find the source of the leak, which is easier said than done in many cases. The most obvious place to look in the area of the wall where pipes enter. Also, check that the landscaping outside the basement slopes away from the house and that the gutters on the home aren’t clogged with debris and that they extend at least 4 feet away from the structure.

Fixing leaks may sound intimidating but many repairs are inexpensive and easy. Filling in cracks with epoxy, installing additional downspouts, re-sloping the landscaping (the University of Minnesota recommends a slope of one inch per foot for at least six feet away from the foundation wall), and installing flashing are DIY projects that won’t break the bank.

Consider purchasing a dehumidifier for the basement as well. Then, seal the walls. Tom Silva at ThisOldHouse.com suggests applying waterproof masonry cement to walls.

Start At The Top And Work Your Way Down

Sure, you’ll want to paint the ceiling but what else is up there, hanging from it, that can ruin the comfy vibe you’re aiming for? Pipes, air ducts and more can be painted to match the ceiling, in the hopes of making them blend in.

Or, look for products like coffered ceilings or wood planks that add style and the results are easier to achieve than most people think.

Then, of course, there is always the option of using drywall or large, removable tiles (to allow access to all that “stuff” hanging from the ceiling). Get more ideas on ways to camouflage ceiling “junk” at HouseLogic.com.

What Will You Walk On?

Naturally, carpeting is the flooring of choice for most basements, according to research by the National Association of Home Builders. But, factoring in the cost of moisture-resistant padding and carpet can be a bit pricey.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider vinyl. Some of the new wood-look luxury vinyl floor planks add a surprisingly realistic wood-look to a room, they’re inexpensive and can be easily installed by homeowners.

If you fear water leaks, tile may be a better choice. Since basements are notoriously moist, however, shop for tiles with anti-slip finishes, such as glazed ceramic tile. Or, consider leaving the concrete floor exposed and acid-staining it. With lots of area rugs scattered about, feet will stay warm.

My opinion?  I recommend tile on finished basement floors in the Baltimore/Washington Area.  If you must have carpet, put tile near the exterior doors, by the furnace and hot water heater, in the basement bathroom, and in the laundry room (under your washer & dryer).  Basically anywhere there is water!

 Create A Warm Ambiance

Proper lighting is crucial in a finished basement that you plan to use frequently. Choose ceiling fixtures, such as track lighting or pot lights and then add table lamps around the room.

The effects of a low ceiling and lack of natural light in most basements can be thwarted by choosing light-colored accessories, such as upholstery fabrics, rugs, pillows, and artwork.

Choose soft rugs, thick blankets and fluffy pillows to seal the warm ambiance of your newly-finished basement.

Finishing a basement is a big project but not only will it give you more living space, it will help you sell your home in the future. Tackle as many DIY projects that you can to keep costs down … but don’t sacrifice quality.  If you can’t do a quality job, hire a professional! A home with a shotty DIY finished basement won’t show well to future prospective Baltimore/Washington Area Home Buyers.

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