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6 Biggest Basement Remodeling Mistakes


When it comes to finishing a basement there are 6 important areas that are often overlooked until the end of the project or are forgotten all together. At that point it is costly and time consuming to correct the oversight. Having a basement finished by a Professional Contractor will cost on average $25 – $55 per square foot depending on what options you are including in your new basement. Kitchen, Bathroom, Theater, Wet bar etc…. The biggest cost in finishing a basement is the labor. Up to 70% of the cost in some cases is labor, if you are somewhat handy you can certainly save some hard earned money by doing it yourself. Keep in mind these 6 often overlooked mistakes and it will save you some headaches.

1. Keeping It All Dry

Make sure it will stay dry. Look closely at the foundation for cracks, inside and out. Look for discolorations in the foundation walls and floor. In most cases when water enters it will leave a discoloration on the concrete. Look for darker areas, it could be still wet, or white chalky lines. Water may have come in at some time in the past but is now dry. Check existing plumbing for signs of leaking.

Outside The Home

Make sure the ground slopes away from the house. Check to make sure downspouts are working properly, not clogged and carry all of the water away from the house.   Any downspouts draining near window wells can cause problems in a heavy rain storm. If water is entering your basement now or in the past it is a good idea to get professional advice to address the problem. Hiring a professional today is a lot cheaper than repairing water damage later on.

2. Planning

Decide what specific elements you want your finished basement to include and what you will be using the basement for. If you want to finish your basement into an entertainment center, you need to plan for extra electrical outlets, lighting, cable/satellite hook-ups, and surround sound. Be sure to plan around what you want to complete.


Snap a chalk line on the floor of your basement to mark out the perimeter of where your finished area will be. Measure the total length of the proposed walls so you can calculate area (length x width) and calculate the approximate building materials. There are five basic elements you need to consider when planning on finishing a basement: Floor, walls, ceiling, electric, plumbing / heating. Your first decision when planning to finish your basement is to decide how large you want your finished space to be. If you decide to finish your entire basement it’s a good idea to reserve an area for storage.

3. Do I Need A Building Permit?

Contact your local building department and inquire about finishing a basement that includes new electric and new plumbing. You will need to obtain at least an electrical permit and plumbing/building permit. Work with your local inspectors and they will work with you.

4. Proper Basement Lighting Techniques

Adding light, whether it is natural or artificial, can make a significant difference in your basement’s overall feel. Since basements tend to be dark and gloomy, adding light should be your first step. If part of your basement is above ground, take advantage of this by having as many windows as possible. You should let in natural light wherever possible so look for simple window treatments that allow the most light to pass through.

5. Kitchens and Bathrooms

If you don’t have roughed in plumbing or you want to have more than a sink and toilet “perhaps a shower”, you are probably going to have to break some concrete and install an extra drain line. This is messy dirty work, and unless you know exactly what you are doing, you would be well advised to get a plumber in to do the actual plumbing work. Obviously you can still do the construction of the room itself, and in fact you may want to frame the bathroom before you break any concrete so you can position your fixtures properly.

6. Heating

In most cases your existing furnace should be able to handle the heating requirements for your finished basement. You may need to make some modifications adding heat ducts, if they’re not already there.

Good luck with your project I hope these tips will help you along the way.

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Fastest most cost effective way to finish your basement!