USA Today reveals that 90% of people spend as many as 22 hours per day indoors. Plus, with the rise of working from home, remote schooling and learning, and advisories to stay home, people are spending more time at home than ever before.
More time at home is leading to an unprecedented rise in home renovations and an unprecedented amount of homeowners making use of all available space, including their basements. If you want to jump on the bandwagon but fear you do not have enough money to fund the project, there are still things you can do.
According to Home Advisor, “Finishing a basement costs $2,800 to $33,985, or $18,395 on average.” Plus, that renovation comes up with a potential return on investment (ROI) of up to 75%. While the nearly $20,000 price tag may seem daunting, with the right steps and a little bit of creativity, homeowners can significantly reduce these costs while completely transforming the look of their basements.
Follow these tips and tricks for basement renovation on a budget.
It’s Time to Clean
First, do not underestimate the enormous potential of working with what you already have. Kick-off your basement renovation on a budget with a thorough cleaning. Failing to pick up and clean away dust, dirt, and debris may negatively impact home improvement projects and, in extreme circumstances, even necessitate a do-over. Clean your basement completely and thoroughly so you can tackle home renovations effectively the first time.
To do that, prioritize pest removal. Pests can be a markedly unpleasant presence in your home. Pests may spread illness, leave behind droppings, chew wires, and even cause structural damage to your home. For example, “rodents keep their teeth sharp through gnawing, and electrical wiring in your walls, in appliances and even in your car will do the trick. So will PVC plumbing, insulation in your walls or attic or the waves of your roof,” according to The Active Times. Not only will mice rip the insulation right out of your walls, but they will also chew wires to the point where they pose dangerous fire hazards.
Similarly, invasive species, like termites, literally eat wood and, thus, the foundations of your home. Without reliable pest control, they can — and often will — do significant damage to the foundation and structural integrity of your home. Work with a trusted rodent removal company to alleviate the problem.
Once your home is free of pests, it is necessary to disinfect spaces previously infested by insects and/or rodents. Wear gloves, and spray surfaces with a diluted bleach solution. Mop up or rinse the floor with a diluted bleach solution as well. Carefully remove any insulation with droppings or traces of pests using a trash bag and gloves.
Water damage restoration is another area to prioritize. If your basement has flooded or suffered from water damage in the past, chances are you have a lot of clean up to do. Start by removing as much water and moisture as possible. Unplug everything, and use appropriate tools, like a wet/dry vacuum, to suck up standing water. Use a solution that is nine parts water and one part bleach to clean walls and surfaces. Follow that up with a specialized product to prevent mold and mildew growth. These products are available at most hardware stores. If mold is already a problem, use a bleach cleaner and a soft-bristle brush to remove surface-level mold stains. Pull up and remove any carpets with mold and mildew.
To properly take on a basement renovation on a budget, you need to make sure your basement is clean first. Ridding your basement of pests and cleaning away droppings, nests, mold, and mildew is a critical first step.
Fix What’s Broken
Basement renovation on a budget equates to smart basement renovation. Your goal is to start and complete each home improvement project once, not run into significant problems and have to start all over again later. To keep problems at bay, address any major repairs your basement needs first. This includes electrical repairs, plumbing repairs, and any repairs that stave off potential hazards.
For the best results, first call one of your local electricians if you have any problems that pose a potential shock or fire hazard. A professional can help you effectively cover-up exposed junction boxes and exposed wiring, install more outlets, install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), and fix outlets with loose connections. Too few outlets can lead to blown fuses or, in worst-case scenarios, fire hazards. Exposed wiring is a code violation and it poses a significant risk of danger. An outlet is worn and ineffective when you attempt to plug things in, the prongs do not hold, and the plug falls out again. This is a bigger problem than you might expect. “Loose contacts can cause arcing, which can ignite dry wood and dust,” This Old House writes. Stay safe by addressing all of these problems and addressing them well in advance of renovations.
Also, establish a good working relationship with a plumbing repair service. Plumbing problems are also significant. Faulty connections or faulty plumbing can lead to leaks, flooding, and ultimately water damage and structural damage. Exposed pipes in basements can freeze over, also leading to significant problems. Call a plumber to fix any shaky connections and to insulate pipes as necessary.
You are almost ready to take on a basement renovation on a budget. First, prioritize critical cleaning and repair.
Prepare for the Future
As you begin any basement renovation on a budget, it is important to look to the future. Try to anticipate any problems now so you can make renovations with potential pitfalls in mind.
For instance, if you cleaned up considerable mold in your basement to get it ready for renovations, it would easily benefit you to take steps to stop mold and mildew from forming in the future.
Why is it important to prevent mold from building up? Mold is dangerous to your health. “Exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin,” The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes. In extreme circumstances, some people may experience shortness of breath and fever. Further, mold damage prevention is important to keep your home safe as well. Left unchecked, mold eats away drywall, wood, floorboards, and ceiling tiles. It can even spread so quickly and widely that it leads to ceilings and walls collapsing.
Prevent mold and mildew from taking hold by repairing leaks, preventing water from coming in, and doing what you can to ensure your basement maintains optimal humidity levels. Invest in a sump pump to move water away from your home, and aim for a humidity no higher than 30 to 50%. If your humidity levels are significantly higher, a dehumidifier can help.
Likewise, if you notice cracks and crevices as you are cleaning your basement, do not make the mistake of ignoring them. Fixing them now can be simple. Fixing them down the line — after making significant improvements and changes to your home — can be much more of a hassle. Use silicone and spray foam to fill in cracks and crevices. This foam expands as it enters the ceiling or wall, making it the optimal solution for a secure and complete seal. These foams come in large tubes with nozzles for easy application and pinpoint precision.
For a basement renovation on a budget — and one that is truly on a budget — look to the future. Prevent major repairs in the future with appropriate maintenance and upkeep.
What Kind of Basement do You Want?
To complete a basement renovation on a budget, start with a clear plan. If you wish to makeover your basement to use as a gaming room, that experience will be very different from finishing the basement to create an in-home theater, guest room, wine cellar, or living room.
If you are building another bedroom or guest room, keep in mind that you will likely need a window. Does your basement already have windows, or is this something you are going to have to add? Natural lighting is important. It helps reduce stress and regulates our sleeping patterns — both things that are particularly important in a bedroom.
If you want to use your basement for an in-home theater or a gaming room with Minecraft server hosting, on the other hand, natural lighting is not an issue. In fact, it may be wise to arrange furnishings away from any basement windows to prevent any glares that make it difficult to see TVs or computer screens.
Similarly, if you want to makeover your basement to use as an at-home office for your job in computer technical support, it will be important to make sure you have the appropriate access to a high-speed internet connection and to make your office as pleasant and comfortable as possible. It would be near-impossible to focus on your work in a damp, unfinished, and pest-filled basement, which brings us to our next point.
While one basement renovation on a budget may look very different from another, there are several things that most have in common. To complete a basement renovation on a budget that is rewarding and utilitarian, focus on a few key areas.
First, whenever possible, finish the basement. In many cases, an unfinished basement is not amenable for entertaining, working, or sleeping. Dedicate the bulk of your budget to finishing the floor, ceilings, and walls. Start with the ceiling. It is ideal to finish walls just like the walls in the other interior rooms of your home. Failing that, use inexpensive materials, like shiplap, to cover up drafty concrete walls for less.Seal concrete floors with epoxy resin and paint them for a smooth and inexpensive solution, or make your basement look extra cozy with wall-to-wall carpeting. An important word on carpeting and area rugs: If you choose to use these features in your basement, make sure the basement is waterproof and relatively free of humidity (with humidity levels no higher than 30%).
Next, paint the walls and ceiling. If completely finishing your basement is outside of your budget, make your walls and ceiling look like new with a fresh layer of paint, or — more accurately — several fresh layers of paint. “Exposed beams, pipes, and ducts on the ceiling can be painted a solid color to make everything blend,” MSN suggests. Make walls look like new with acrylic paint or latex masonry paint. While these paints can reasonably make your walls look “finished,” you will need several layers of paint to achieve that effect. Further, it is important to thoroughly clean and wipe down concrete before painting to ensure the paint goes on evenly and stays on.
Finally, introduce more light. No matter what you use your newly renovated basement for, chances are it could use some additional lighting. Bring in wall sconces and upward facing lamps for the most light and to create the illusion of the most space. For in-home theaters and gaming rooms, add lighting with a special flair. Consider easy-to-install LED strips to light up the areas around theater seating or line desk ledges or ceilings.
For a basement renovation on a budget, consider any unique requirements your renovation may have and consider what basement renovations have in common, too.
Try Something New
A final word on basement renovations: a basement renovation on a budget does not have to be a boring basement renovation without adding anything new. In fact, make a point to include little flourishes and details that are uniquely you.
Make a list of musts and wants. Do not devote the entirety of your budget to musts. Set aside a small amount for wants, too.
If you are renovating your basement to install a wine cellar and bar, consider a new, eye-catching granite countertop installation. For a living room or entertaining room, team up with a custom banner printing company to print attractive signs and banners celebrating your favorite team.
Your basement has a lot of space. Don’t waste it. Make your basement into a livable space that you can enjoy every day of the week. Follow the tips and tricks above to complete a basement renovation on a budget.