If you are like many homeowners we speak with, you have hundreds of square feet lying unused beneath your feet. That could be an a easy fix for a ton of Philadelphia and Main Line basements.
If you have unfinished space in your basement, or that space is not set up the way you would like to use it, it's wasted or underutilized. To access that potential space, a basement remodel is often the best solution. Of course, it's important to begin your planning by researching the real costs of a quality basement remodel around Philadelphia, and the Main Line suburbs.
Remodeling your basement can be a moderate or a high-end renovation project, depending on your wishes. The size, scope and quality of your remodel dictates the costs. You will need to assess your basement's current size and how much you can add to it, given any mechanical or storage requirements. This article uses budgeting estimates from the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report, recent basement renovations from Bellweather Design-Build, and data from both HomeAdvisor and Houzz.
There is such a wide range of basement remodeling costs, largely because of differing scope and quality expectations. On the lower end of the investment range, your basement can undergo a more modest transformation. Smaller renovations might include patching and repainting your walls, replacing the flooring and molding, or adding a central element, like a wet bar. It's essential to keep in mind that you will pay more for projects that include specialized features like a wine cellar or movie projector. The high end of the price ranges typically involve new window light-wells, egress windows, underpinning, curbing, french drains, a sump pump system, a new bathroom, or a small kitchen.
If your basement is partially or entirely unfinished, you may only need to get to the "finished level" in order to make basic use of your space. Finishing assumes that at a minimum you will need to add framing, insulation, drywall, new lines for electricity and HVAC, ceilings, flooring, doors, and more.
Older homes may need significant repairs to the foundation as well as floor sealing or french drains added to keep out moisture. Finishing your project can include bedrooms, bathrooms, or multipurpose living spaces in the basement. Carefully consider the available fire egress windows as well as the lighting, including both daylight and color adjusted bulbs. Consult an experienced design professional for these absolutely critical basement finishing elements.
One of the best ways to ensure that you will make regular use of your basement is to install a bathroom. Since you are not quite building a bathroom addition, but will be installing new plumbing into concrete, this project will cost a little more than a bathroom remodel but not as much as a bathroom addition. Since most basement bathroom don't include luxury fixtures and finishes, the price of a bathroom in your basement largely depends on size and layout.
For example, if you are just looking for a standard 35 square-foot bathroom, you presumably only have room for a shower or a tub/shower combination, toilet, and sink. On the other hand, a 100 square-foot bathroom will be large enough for a 4 piece bath - typically this would include 4 plumbing fixtures such as a double sink or a single sink plus a freestanding tub and glass shower surround. Sometimes an ejector pump will be required if your home's main drain is too high for gravity to carry the waste-water away.
Do you hate settling in your basement to watch a movie or hang out with friends, only to realize that you have to run upstairs for the missing snacks or drinks? A basement kitchen or kitchenette may be your ideal solution. At this price point, you are not trying to recreate your primary kitchen. Instead, this project aims for something functional and attractive without using up too much space. New plumbing lines will be needed for access to water and drainage. Add cabinets, countertops, flooring, and smaller appliances for a perfect space to whip up some appetizers to please the kids. For adults, a wet bar and a mini-fridge may be all that's needed to keep guests entertained.
One of the hottest and high value trends in home remodeling is the creation of an in-law suite, with similar design layouts to a master suite. Essentially, this is a separate living space on your property that is ideal for older family members. This project would include the construction of a full bathroom, and a bedroom with at least 80 square feet. The higher end of the investment range assumes some specialty details and finishes or perhaps a kitchenette. Additions like a full walkout with stairs or new windows will usually cost extra.
Most basement remodeling projects assume that you will be keeping the exterior and the foundation virtually the same. And while that might be true for you, there are a few reasons that you may want to consider adding on. Some of these additions may be required by code or may make your remodel more practical or more desirable for resale value later down the line.
If you're envisioning your basement as a living space for your parents or adult children, you may need a "full walkout" with brick or concrete steps up to grade. A walkout is a new exterior door that allows people to enter and exit the basement without having to walk upstairs through the first floor. A full walkout is also an excellent choice if you want to put a patio in the backyard or desire additional space on the lower level. You may even have the space to install a natural lighting element such as french doors or other luxury details.
A walkout involves cutting into your foundation, so you will need to work with an engineer and a code specialist to determine how your foundation can be modified. Usually, an experienced designer is required for this option.
Older homes often have basements that are disappointingly short in height. If you have low ceiling clearance in your basement and want to apply for a permit to finish it, you may need to extend that height to make it work. This may be required in order to count your basement as living space in order to sell your home. Pennsylvania building codes dictate that a habitable space must be at least seven feet high. If your basement ceiling does not meet that minimum, you may need to dig down and use a foundation curbing method (less expensive) or possibly a full foundation underpinning (more expensive). Curbing is used for excavations of less than 12 inches and underpinning is for greater than 12 inches of excavation. In either case, the concrete floor is removed enough to add a new floor at a lower level. You will need lots of professional help for this one.
If you want a basement bedroom to count as a bedroom on a home appraisal, you will need to install an egress window. The national building code states that any closed basement room that can be used as a bedroom must be considered a bedroom and requires 2 means of escape from a fire. These are windows that people can use as a means of exit in case of an emergency. They must measure at least 5.7 square feet, and they cannot be more than 44 inches off the floor. This project can also add natural light to your basement, a pleasant upgrade if your basement space has no natural lighting access.
Since basements come in a variety of sizes, ages and conditions, it's difficult to estimate precisely what yours will cost before you outline your plans and select a contractor. Starting with a professional design-build approach at Bellweather Design-Build is an ideal way to understand your options and what you can expect to pay for various designs. We have the experience to make sure every aspect of your project gets our expert attention, so that you can be confident that nothing is left out of your estimate and that you fully understand what is possible.
A basement remodel is a great way to maximize the existing space in your home. To learn more about the design-build process or talk to a remodeling specialist about your project, contact us today.
Written by Taylor Rennick and Will Giesey
(The figures above are partially taken from the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report [www.costvsvalue.com] for the Philadelphia, PA, area. © 2020 Hanley Wood Media Inc. You can download the complete data from the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report free of charge at www.costvsvalue.com.)
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