Finish Your Basement With These 7 Simple Steps

August 30, 2013
Last updated:
November 11, 2021
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Not only does the Labor Day weekend signal a little time off work, but it also indicates a close to the summer season, which means it’s time to get ready for colder weather.

So get in the spirit of the cooler temperatures and put the labor of love into your home by creating a cozy hideaway that your family can retreat to once the outdoors become too chilly.

One of the best places to create this snug space is to mimic hibernating animals and go underground — to the basement.

Whether your lowest level needs a facelift or is completely unfinished, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to make a game plan and get started on remodeling your basement.

Step 1 – Obtain A Permit

Before you can just slap up insulation and drywall, you need to make sure your basement is even fit to dwell in.

Check with your city to ensure there aren’t any permits you need to obtain and that space is up to code. If you don’t do it right, then this update could haunt you when it comes time to sell. Sellers may request to see a copy of any permits for work that has been done on the home. If you can’t supply it, the seller may be hesitant to go through with the deal.

Even if you son’t sell, doing work without a permit could land you in hot water if the jurisdiction you live in finds out. You could be asked to file the paperwork and pay for the permit anyway, and in a worst-case scenario, you may even be asked to take down whatever work you’ve done.

Step 2 – Get The Air Flowing

You’ll want this space to be warm in winter and cool in the summer. Basements tend to be colder than higher levels of the home, so you’ll want to make sure your HVAC system is up to par.

Contact a contractor to see if getting air to this lower level will be as easy as tapping into your current HVAC system and whether or not your existing appliance can handle the extra space.

Step 3 – Design And Frame

Now comes the fun part. Decide what you want down there! A bedroom or two, a man cave, or TV room; a blank slate provides all sorts of exciting options.

There are so many ways to configure your basement to suit your family’s needs and lifestyle. Otherwise, you may want to finish it according to what buyer’s in the area are looking for in a finished basement. Once you’ve got a plan, start framing it out.

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Step 4 – Add Emergency Exits

This underground level needs exit points that go directly outside. So, install a back door or windows that someone could fit through in case of emergency. If there are bedrooms in the design, they also each need their own exit point. If you get a building permit, you will know precisely what exit points are required when finishing a basement.

After all, you not only want a usable finished basement, but you also want one that is safe. And if you plan to finish the basement to serve as a separate apartment to rent out, you will certainly need that extra separate entrance and exit.

Step 5 – Insulate And Drywall

While the ground surrounding your home provides some insulation, you’ll want to properly insulate around the perimeter and in between rooms to provide a noise barrier. Then put up the drywall.

Once that’s up, you can finish the walls to your liking, whether it’s with a simple coat of paint, or something more elaborate like wallpaper or wainscoting.

Step 6 – Install Flooring

Pick out your flooring, such as wood, tile, carpet or vinyl. It mostly depends on what type of rooms you’re planning to create. Make sure your floors are level before you lay anything down. It’s especially common to find slanted floors in older homes.

Step 7 – Paint And Decorate

You’re almost finished! This is the best part of the renovation process.

Pick out your paint colors, move in your furniture and enjoy your new cozy hideaway. Colder weather will be here before you know it, so use this time to get this project started.

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Have Questions About Mortgages?

Are you ready to apply for a mortgage? If so, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We are a local, family-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington. We have been offering a number of mortgage programs to borrowers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Colorado since 1992, and we’d love to help you too. Please contact us if you have mortgage-related questions.

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