Finished Basement Ideas

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mw1739
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Finished Basement Ideas

Post by mw1739 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:33 am

We're gearing up to finish our basement. We've gotten bids and selected our contractor. Does anyone see any pitfalls or suggestions for other items we should have in a basement?

- Bedroom (adding egress window)
- Full Bath (already roughed in)
- Wet Bar (already roughed in)
- TV/Entertainment area - thinking of having cable, cat5, HDMI all wired back to a closet somewhere in the basement. Also thinking of adding in-ceiling speakers
- Storage/Mechanical area

What is everyone's preference on basement flooring? We're thinking tile in the bar and bathroom, carpet everywhere else to save money. I assume a good pad will take away some of the coldness and make it more comfortable. Water isn't an issue.

Anything else I need to be thinking about?

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mhc
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by mhc » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:19 am

Is radon an issue in your area? If so, test for it and see if you need to mitigate. Mitigation is easier before the basement is finished.

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bcboy57
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by bcboy57 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:32 am

I 'finished' my basement myself, except for the electrical, ( there's no plumbing down there), a few years ago. Afterwards my wife bought me a tee shirt with the inscription " measure twice, cut once " on it. It took a while, but I really enjoyed learning and doing it on my own.

We live in mid Michigan, so used indoor/outdoor carpeting on the floors.....best...Doug

Jetpack
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Jetpack » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:47 am

We are currently in the middle of finishing our basement now (using a contractor). Like you, we spent a lot of time deciding if we wanted an egress window in the bedroom and if we wanted a bathroom down there. It was a significant price increase for both, especially since the plumbing wasn't already in place, however, we decided that we wanted an extra way out of the basement in an emergency and that we didn't want to go up to the main level to use the bathroom. To save a little we decided on 1/2 bath instead of a full.

As for flooring, we are doing carpet throughout with the exception of tile in the bathroom. We are having a media room also and the HDMI, Cat5, speaker cable, and optical cable were put in their general location prior to studding the walls. The only other thing I can think of is insulation....you'll want to research this and decide what you think is best. There seems to be different opinions on whether fiberglass insulation is a good idea in a basement or not. We decided to go with foam boards behind the studs instead of fiberglass.

Good luck with your project...we are about 2 weeks into ours and it is neat to see all the changes taking place.

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wageoghe
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by wageoghe » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:14 am

Consider HVAC needs for basement. Does it need heating/cooling/humidity control? Can you tap into existing system or does it need its own? It can be difficult to adequately control the climate in the basement from a thermostat mounted upstairs.

Do you have any moisture problems in the basement?

Does your house have radon? If so, it might make sense to put in a radon mitigation system (if needed) as part of the basement finishing.

Are you going to sheetrock the ceiling or use a drop ceiling? If sheetrock, is there anything that you want to address before covering it up? When we finished our basement we replaced our 40 year old galvanized plumbing because it can narrow over time due to rust and/or mineral buildup. I wish we had sealed and reconfigured some of our HVAC ductwork.

Some people like this as a "subfloor" in a basement, especially if you have (or might have) any moisture issues:

http://www.dricore.com/en/homeowner.aspx

It consists of OSB backed by dimpled plastic. The idea is to give a stable surface that can be carpeted or have hardwood or laminate installed. I'm not sure if you can lay tile on it or not. This stuff might be more common in some areas than others, so your contractor may or may not be familiar with it.

You might find this reading on basements interesting and/or useful:

http://www.buildingscience.com/document ... -basements

Joe Lstiburek might be the foremost "building science" guy around. He might have more basement stuff on the Building Science website.

Good luck!

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:18 am

Consider ending the drywall six inches or more from the floor and using a wide skirting board. This makes repairs after light flooding much easier. Even in the driest basement there is the possibility of minor flooding from plumbing problems. It only takes a few gallons of water to ruin a whole lot of drywall.

investingdad
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by investingdad » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:45 am

Timely! :D

We have also gotten our bids and I've narrowed it to two contractors, one of them was the builder that built our house. Our basement is a full walkout so egress isn't an issue for us. We're adding three additional, full size windows for more natural light. We're also not going to add plumbing. The idea of a bar sounds cool, but we really entertain large groups and it's not something that we'd use. Half bath, I know everyone says I need one but the half bath already sits at the top of the stairs. For the thousands it would cost, I can walk up the steps. We are finishing about 800 ft2, half of the basement.

Some random things:

- We're going to tile at the slider doors where you can walk in from the outside.
- upgraded padding and better quality carpet
- lots and lots of recessed lights in 3 different 'zones'
- adding a new set of double doors from the outside to the unfinished area
- leaving 4 foot of clearance at the narrowest point between unfinished wall and the backside of the finished area
- moving unfinished area to it's own light switch
- we're doing a drywall ceiling since the bulk of the plumbing is over the unfinished area. I'm moving the gas line shutoff to my fireplace back to the unfinished area and doing an access panel at the sewer pipe stack
- we're going to tap the HVAC system and add a cold air return, plus electric baseboard back-up on a seperate thermostat
- we're upgrading the existing wall insulation (about half the basement is full foundation and half is framed walls on footer with knee wall transitions)
- we 'paper dolled' where the furniture will sit and general layout on the blue prints so we understand the space
- color scheme will trend to darker tones since we'll have 2 full windows and a slider on the south side and 1 window on the west side for natural light
- zone 1 will be TV / sectional sofa for sports and video games, zone 2 and zone 3 will be game room areas (air hockey, pool table, possibly pinball machine) and game table / chairs.
- have a radon pipe already as house is only 3 years old
- no moisture or dampness
Last edited by investingdad on Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

barnaclebob
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:46 am

I'd make sure its easy to replace whatever video and data cables you put in. Cat 5 and HDMI might be like having phone cords at some point. You'll need to make sure you can still run the remotes and HDMI does have length limitations but they most likely don't apply to the normal basement and routing.

texasdiver
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by texasdiver » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:49 am

Are you sure water isn't an issue?

If it were me I would put in some sort of sealed waterproof floor (tile, sealed concrete, epoxy painted concrete, etc.) and then use area rugs to soften up the floor and provide carpeting where desired.

I would also plan ahead for the possibility of making it a mother-in-law apartment some day if there is ever the remotest possibility you might want to use it for that purpose. Basically a separate outside entrance and fully plumbed for kitchen appliances which you may or may not already be doing with the wet bar.

barnaclebob
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:49 am

investingdad wrote:Timely! :D

We have also gotten our bids and I've narrowed it to two contractors, one of them was the builder that built our house. Our basement is a full walkout so egress isn't an issue for us. We're adding three additional, full size windows for more natural light. We're also not going to add plumbing. The idea of a bar sounds cool, but we really entertain large groups and it's not something that we'd use. Half bath, I know everyone says I need one but the half bath already sits at the top of the stairs. For the thousands it would cost, I can walk up the steps. We are finishing about 800 ft2, half of the basement.
s
I'd at least rough in plumbing for a half bath.

gte939h
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by gte939h » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:02 pm

I just finished our basement myself (except for the drywall and carpet) in 6 weeks. Some more details of what you are trying to accomplish with your house would help to answer some of the questions. Are you trying to increase the value of the home? Rent it out in the future? Or just want some more living space for you and your family?

I think you have to add a bedroom and bathroom to a basement, this will be the main points of the upgrade that you will get money back for in the future. The other add-ons will not give you near the same return on your investment. I had an area roughed in for a wet bar but did not add it because it was a wasted expense. I know I wouldn't use it that much and I was looking for return on my investment. It may even become a detractor from the house when you go to sell. I would also think about adding a tub sink to your basement area in the unfinished storage area if possible, cheap addition. I like to have those for washing the dog, tools, etc... Not necessary by any means though.

For flooring, I did tile in the bathroom and carpet throughout the rest of the finished space. I left the area under the stairs unfinished but the carpet guys had some leftover carpet so I threw down a fitted strip under there that makes it look semi-finished. You hit it on the head with the quality carpet padding, I would go with an upgraded pad down there for sure. It will warm up the space and be more comfortable over concrete.

For the TV, the speed at which technology is changing these days may make it difficult to keep up. But, if it is for your enjoyment and you will be happy spending the money on it then do it. I just ran Cat 5 and cable throughout the basement to a main hub by the subpanel I put in so I could boost the signal if needed.

Good luck and enjoy it, I had a great time doing mine but it was also very stressful as we were on a tight timeline.

investingdad
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by investingdad » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:05 pm

If we did go back later and do a 1/2 bath, there is a clean shot in the unfinished area from the 1/2 bath 'likely' location over to the sewer line main and the water supply manifold. That's the one plus to how we're laying it out. All the utility feeds and access points are in the unfinished area and new lines can be run across said area easily to the point where we are finishing.

But I disagree on having to add a bedroom and bathroom. The area we are finishing would not be used for this purpose, so that means I either have to cut into what I want to use the space for, or chew up more raw space.

This is for my family's enjoyment, not an investment. Our budget is about 25K. What cost can I recover? 25% if no bedroom or full bath? So I get 6.3K back if I sell. If I spend another 10K for the additional space of a bedroom and full bath what do I get then? 50%? So I get 17.5K back. So I've spend 10K more than I want to in order to get 11K more in the future. And I've lost a ton of storage and work space in the process. I'll pass.

mw1739
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by mw1739 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:33 pm

Thanks for all the feedback. Some additional information:

- water has not been an issue and our neighbors who have lived here longer have never had an issue in their basement. Our 2 sump pumps and battery backup ensure that.
- Radon system is already in place
- We're looking for additional living/entertaining space. We're only finishing roughly 1200 sq. ft. of the 2000 sq ft basement to allow plenty of room for mechanicals and storage.
- Great idea on hanging the drywall higher. Much easier to replace baseboards as necessary vs. whole areas of drywall.
- The ceiling will be drywalled. Homes in our neighborhood and area all have drywall ceilings. For the homes price I would expect it as well. Good call on fixing anything necessary while it's open. We'll look at adding some additional insulation/soundproofing so we don't hear the furnace or sump pump running.
- The bedroom will be for guests/ the kids sleepovers. Probably occupied ~ 2 weeks a year. But the cost is justified in the increased value. I wish the previous owners had made the existing windows in the basement large enough for egress, but that's life.
- We want a full bath so our houseguests won't have the need to go upstairs to shower etc.
- I sometimes question the utility of a bar, but based on the other houses around here it is clearly a selling point. We're not huge partiers either, but would like our house to be the "hangout" house for our friends and family.
- I can always fish new wiring for upgraded technology in the future, but at least having something down there now will make it easier in the future.
- I'll have to ask our HVAC guy about basement returns, ductwork etc. It feels relatively nice down there during the summer, but it does get cold during the winter. I would think some drywall and carpet would warm the place up though.
- Need to talk to the contractor, but I think foam board insulation is the likely choice.

gte939h
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by gte939h » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:43 pm

You may already know this from previous projects but when working with contractors, expect some other unexpected costs. The estimate they give you is just that, an estimate and they want your business. Budget in some money above the estimate for what they find along the way. Even doing it myself I ran into some issues I didn't forsee requiring me to get creative or spend more money.

Atilla
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Atilla » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:43 pm

We had a large carpeted recreation room in our basement that we never used. Nice room - half exposure on one wall, completely finished. We actually used the room maybe once or twice a year.

So...we moved our bedroom down there. Now we have a large master suite with a leather sectional sofa, big flat screen with surround sound and a bar. It's super quiet and dark and cool in the summer. :beer
The Village Idiot - here for your entertainment.

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wageoghe
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by wageoghe » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:16 pm

If you think you might need heating or cooling in your basement and if it isn't obvious after talking to your HVAC guy that tapping in to your existing system will be satisfactory, you might consider one of these for your basement:

http://www.lennox.com/products/mini-split-systems/

Mini split systems are available from most of the big name HVAC vendors, as well as from companies like Mitsubishi, LG, Fujitsu, Toshiba, etc. Mitsubishi has historically been a big name, but others are probably good choices as well. A big advantage to a mini split in your case is that no ductwork is required, so you don't have to figure out where to put it or run the risk of losing head room. Some (many? all?) of these systems use "inverter" technology, so the heat pump function is effective at much lower temperatures than a conventional heat pump. This means that you can use a mini split (or any heat pump with inverter based compressor) in a cooler climate than a conventional heat pump.

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Info_Hound
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Info_Hound » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:48 pm

You might want to consider putting under tile heating for the bathroom. Basement floors are cold, tile on bare feet feels really cold. If the bathroom is small, it's not a great expense.

likegarden
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by likegarden » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:58 pm

Our basement has two sump pump wells, with sump pumps running intermittendly only after much rain. In one there is also a DC (battery) backup pump. The small utilities room with furnace, water heater and water softener has a 1/2 inch step around the utilities so that any water spilled will drain towards wall and sump pumps. Since our floor is 'floating' and a 2 or so inch space runs all around the walls, the basement walls are offset by that amount.
One requirement in our basement was to have a work room for some hobby and house projects to work on and store tools.

Lacrocious
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Lacrocious » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:44 pm

I finished my basement about 10 years ago. It was a great experience - did all but hang drywall (guess I am lazy and it is heavy).

To future proof your entertainment areas - I would suggest running some kind of tubing in the walls so you can easily pull additional cable (network, cable, hdmi, speaker, etc.). In one area, we just used some left-over 2" pvc. Ended it about 2' above the floor and ran it to the ceiling, with an elbow and then out to the unfinished area of the basement. Now it is easy to add cable. Additionally - I ran some smaller flex tubing (3/4") to where I hung my surround speakers off the walls. This way I can add additional cable to them.

Additionally, I did a PVC run into the bedroom where I thought I would do an access box, but decided not to put the box in. I can do that at any point in the future, as long as I remember (or look at the picture!) where I ran the tubing.

For flooring, we used carpet with a good, moisture proof pad - it makes it warm enough down there. In the kitchen area, we used vinyl flooring that looks like tile - and it works.

We also added in a Gas Fireplace with a Pilot Light. It is a furnace quality with a remote + thermostat. This way we can set it to 60 degrees and leave it on. It won't actually fire up - as it doesn't get that cold down there normally. If our power had gone out with this latest cold snap, our furnace wouldn't start (no ignition or fan), but the fireplace would at least keep the house from freezing.

Good Luck,
- L

Mrxyz
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Mrxyz » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:13 am

Look up Tyroc subfloor - similar to dricore but has no wood parts and is waterproof.

mw1739
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by mw1739 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:19 am

Thanks for more great ideas. I'll look into the tile floor heating and adding conduit to run the cables is a great idea. We originally had the fireplace idea but our contractor wasn't the biggest fan of the idea and we agreed after seeing what it would cost to add the necessary venting and running the gas lines.

Dave C.
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Dave C. » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:41 pm

Water runs downhill. No water problem? Surprise, surprise!

I had a pro refinish my basement 9 years ago, and I had the same guy put in a full bath (already plumped) last year.

Here is the water thing.......a toilet overflowed upstairs for about 10-minutes. It caused about $9K in damage, most in the basement. I have a drop panel ceiling, about 25 ruined panels, plus a TV and other stuff. My basement is 100% tile floor....resulted in NO damage there....if I had carpeted, OMG!

Someone moved our fridge in the kitchen a bit, and unknown to anyone, snapped the ice maker water line. Water again came through the floor, through the ceiling (taking another 12 panels with it) and cost me some furnishing, another few grand.

Bottom line, if you have running water upstairs....considering laying some beautiful ceramic tile in the basement. Dragging soaking carpeting and ruined padding up the stairs and through the house is no fun. Replacing and repairing is less fun.

Just say'in. :shock:
Easy does it/Live & Let Live/One day at a time. Thanks Bill.

Louis Winthorpe III
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Louis Winthorpe III » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:28 pm

Use DensArmor rather than drywall. It's moisture and mold resistant, so if you ever do have a problem with water, it's not a big deal.

genjix
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by genjix » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:51 pm

like someone mentioned above, maybe put all the wiring through carflex or something you can easily replace, as cables are always improving for better quality/speed. Maybe put a drag line in there too in case you want to pull additional cable

island
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by island » Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:08 pm

mw1739 wrote:Thanks for all the feedback. Some additional information:
- We want a full bath so our houseguests won't have the need to go upstairs to shower etc.
- I sometimes question the utility of a bar, but based on the other houses around here it is clearly a selling point. We're not huge partiers either, but would like our house to be the "hangout" house for our friends and family.
I live in S. CA so no basement which is a bummer. Would love to have the finished basement I had in my youth in PA.

Full Bath- I think that's a great idea, especially for the overnight guests. Do you have an entrance on the basement level? The home I grew up in did and that full bathroom also came in handy when we kids were in an out to use the bathroom from the pool or when my brothers were muddy mess from football. Mom appreciated that we weren't slogging thru the main house.
Bar- Yeah we're not party animals either, but the bar does seem to be a selling or congregating point in many homes. Even if not boozing it up, it's a great place to lay out a buffet. Gotta have a fridge, good size sink and microwave.
I think tile in the bath is the best choice. I'd probably go with indoor outdoor carpet too. It's sound absorbing, comfortable and warm underfoot and inexpensive so can upgrade later if you decide you want something different.

placeholder
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by placeholder » Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:05 pm

There are some tiles that give the appearance of wood perhaps something to investigate.

Skiffy
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by Skiffy » Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:13 pm

Are you planning on staying in your home for a long while? I would think long term and really consider adding the bedroom and bathroom for guests and when those pesky kids come back after college!

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SteveNet
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by SteveNet » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:56 pm

If no one has already said it...PERMITS, don't rely on the contractor's word, call and find out for yourself.
Once you try to sell the home, work that requires permits can be an issue...ask me how I know. :wink:
Being frugal is hard to learn, but once learned is hard to stop.

mw1739
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by mw1739 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:27 pm

Thanks all for more ideas. The bedroom and full bath are must haves. I've heard of the wood finish tiles, but thought they were expensive? May need to research that further. I will research some of the other water damage prevention tips too

investingdad
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by investingdad » Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:31 am

SteveNet wrote:If no one has already said it...PERMITS, don't rely on the contractor's word, call and find out for yourself.
Once you try to sell the home, work that requires permits can be an issue...ask me how I know. :wink:
Yes. I eliminated one contractor when he asked me, "Were you planning to pull permits or no?" Anyone that was willing to do that scale of work w/o permits got crossed off my list pretty quick.

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SnapShots
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by SnapShots » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:34 am

I have ceiling speakers and don't like them. Surround sound needs to be at ear level - IMO. I would spend the extra money and tile the whole area and use area rugs. Area rugs can be changed easily. Carpet wears and eventually develops walk paths and is more expensive because you have to replace it. Tile is basically forever.
the best decision many times is the hardest to do

BigMoneyGrip
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by BigMoneyGrip » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:53 am

Would adding a bathroom require an ejection pit & sump pump to get the waste up to the main sewage line?

mw1739
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Re: Finished Basement Ideas

Post by mw1739 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:15 am

SnapShots wrote:I have ceiling speakers and don't like them. Surround sound needs to be at ear level - IMO. I would spend the extra money and tile the whole area and use area rugs. Area rugs can be changed easily. Carpet wears and eventually develops walk paths and is more expensive because you have to replace it. Tile is basically forever.
Thanks for the info on speakers. I may just pay extra and have a local home theater company give me their expertise in that area. Our thought on carpet is that it is cheaper than tile. I know it may be penny wise and pound foolish but it is one area that you can easily cut costs. Also carpet will give it a warmer feel than tile.
BigMoneyGrip wrote:Would adding a bathroom require an ejection pit & sump pump to get the waste up to the main sewage line?
Yes and there is already a sewage pump in place.
SteveNet wrote:If no one has already said it...PERMITS, don't rely on the contractor's word, call and find out for yourself.
Once you try to sell the home, work that requires permits can be an issue...ask me how I know. :wink:
I agree that permits are a requirement. I hadn't thought to verify they've been pulled but plan to do so now.

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