Should You Convert Your Basement into Living Space?

Are you feeling the pinch in your house? Does it seem too small to meet your needs? If so, the answer to your problem might be literally right underneath you. Converting an unfinished basement into a living space is a common remodel that adds value to your home while making it a more functional and enjoyable space for you and your family. Is it the right move for you? Read on for some reasons it might be–and some factors to consider.

Great Reasons to Finish Your Basement

Your Family is Growing

There are a variety of reasons that you might need more room for you and your family. Maybe your family is growing–adding another child, or just growing up. You can make an extra bedroom in your basement that will let your family spread out a little. If you have teens or young adult children living with you, making the basement into their own space will give them a feeling of independence.

You’re a Multigenerational Family

More and more people are choosing multigenerational living: two or three generations of families living under the same roof. While in 2011, only 7% of Americans said they lived in multigenerational homes, by 2021, the number had risen to 26%, and it continues to grow. With older adults wanting to maintain their independence as long as they can and housing costs rising, multigenerational homes offer a solution. But they’re not without difficulties. Living with other adults can be hard if everyone doesn’t have their own space. A basement apartment might be just the key to making it work for you and your family.

You’re Working From Home More

It’s impossible to understate the changes that took place in 2020, and one of the major ones involved many people working from home either full-time or several days a week. And for a lot of people, that situation has remained. If you’re working from home, you may want an office that is away from the main areas of your house. Whether you value the quiet and freedom from distractions, or you want to be able to close the door and “leave work” at the end of the day, converting your basement into an amazing home office might be what you need.

You Want to Indulge in Your Hobbies

Do you have a hobby that you love? Whether you’re an artist, a crafter, a weight trainer, a runner, a movie lover, a musician, or a mixologist, you can set up your finished basement to support whatever you love to do. The benefit of having a hobby room, workout room, home theater, or wet bar in your basement is that you can do the things you enjoy without taking up the valuable square footage in the main part of your house. You can store larger equipment or set up and leave out a project without worrying about inconveniencing the rest of your family. It’s a win-win!

You Need More Income

It’s possible to finish a basement and rent it out as an apartment, depending on local laws and regulations. Renting out your basement can be a great way to use space that is sitting empty and turn it into money in your wallet.

In DC, your basement needs to meet certain requirements like having

  • seven-foot ceilings

  • at least two ways out in case of fire

  • separate heating and cooling from the rest of the house

Your basement will need to be up to code, and you will need a certificate of occupancy and a basic business license. We can help you make sure your basement is ready for a tenant.

You Want to Make the Most of the Space You Have

For some people, the idea of all that unused square footage right below their feet is reason enough to finish their basement. Making it into a multi-purpose space, a hangout for teens, a playroom for kids, or a guest room means giving a purpose to an area of your home that is currently going unused.

Factors to Consider

Basements and ROI

Converting a basement into living space is a major project that will give you a lot of satisfaction. And if it’s done right, it can raise the value of your home–great if you plan to sell in the future or to solidify your investment now. Finishing your basement gives you a return on investment (ROI)–as much as 70-75% according to most experts. And based on the 2023 Cost vs Value Guide for the South Atlantic Region, specifically adding a bedroom and a bathroom can raise your ROI anywhere from 20.9 to 28.8%. It’s definitely a great investment in the value of your home.

Keep in mind that to bring the best ROI, your basement should be as airy and open as possible. Opt for an open floor plan instead of many small rooms, so it feels spacious and inviting. And if you’re thinking about selling, avoid making rooms for specific functions. It’s better to make them multi-purpose.

Making it Welcoming

The challenge of a basement space is that it can be dark and damp–not exactly a warm and welcoming space for you and your family to enjoy. But there are things you can do to make it inviting! 

Focus on the lighting. Maximize natural light as much as possible with windows, and sliding or French doors if you have access to the outside. If you have window wells, consider making them larger to let in more light. You can even plant some beautiful flowers around the window wells to add even more cheer. If there’s not much natural light, aim for a cozy atmosphere by using warm, layered light. Aim for lighting in three layers: overhead (ceiling fan light, can lights), eye-level (accent lighting), and tabletop (lamps).

To mitigate the cool, damp feeling that often accompanies basements, make sure you use excellent insulation (this will help with both warmth and sound). Talk to your contractor about moisture control–do you need to add a dehumidifier? Or use special moisture-resistant drywall? And making sure your flooring is pleasant to walk on will go a long way to making your space feel homey. Wood flooring isn’t usually recommended, but LVP or carpet might be perfect.

Since many basements house HVAC equipment, water heaters, and other mechanical parts of your home, consider having a large closet or utility room built to conceal them. This will make accessing them easy in case repairs are needed while keeping the less attractive parts of your basement out of sight.

Is This the Right Move for You?

If you think that finishing your basement or remodeling it is the right move for your family and your home, we’re here to help. You can check out the pictures of this Brookland Row home, or this Livingston Estates home for examples of our work creating bedrooms, bathrooms, and living space in basements. To talk about your specific wants and needs for your Maryland, Virginia, or DC area home, give us a call today. We’d love to help you put your unfinished basement to work for you.