A finished basement can be a valuable addition to your home. It can be a playroom for your kids, a place for family to stay during visits, a media room the whole family can use, or even a space to rent out for some extra income.

However, depending on the current condition of your basement, it can also be a pretty daunting project to take on. Here are four tips to help you feel comfortable jumping in and transforming your basement into your home’s newest feature.

Deal with Health, Safety, and Legal Concerns First

Before you start renovations, do some research into any laws and building codes that might affect your project. Codes can change depending on your locality, so make sure you’re reading the right ones. Make note of any egress requirements, and plan for adequate windows and fire exits.

Then, get a professional to come in and check for any health and safety concerns that need to be addressed. Basements can often hide things like mold, asbestos, and radon, so make sure that if anything is lurking, you’re taking care of it before starting renovations.

Decide on Your Master Plan

Will you primarily be using your extra space for guests? A playroom? A family movie room?

If you plan on renting the space, consider if a small kitchen will fit comfortably in your budget.

A bathroom can go a long way toward making a space comfortable for guests, and if there’s not room for a full tub and shower, a half bath will still add value to the space.

Set a Realistic Budget and Stick to it

Basement remodels can be one of the most expensive home renovation projects, so it’s a good idea to sit down with a professional remodeler and set a realistic budget. Allow for some wiggle room in case unexpected problems arise, and don’t be stingy when it comes to dealing with things like leaks and water damage.

Have a professional check out the foundation, and put some money toward solving any potential water problems first and foremost. Remember that you can always put more money toward finessing the decor later on when your budget allows. Put the bulk of your budget into making sure it’s a safe, comfortable, functional space before splitting hairs over furnishings or small decorative touches.

Think about Ways to Eliminate that Basement Feel

Basements are often not built with everyday use in mind, but there are a lot of creative ways to liven up the space and take away that underground basement feel.

Start with good insulation to control both temperature and sound. You don’t want your footsteps echoing loudly in your guests ears, and you also don’t need unwanted noise floating up into the main part of the house.

For decor, think about using warm color and gentle lighting. Add softness with curtains or carpet. Basements will often have low ceilings that can make the space feel a bit unwelcoming, so think creatively and see if a professional can reroute the ductwork, wiring, or piping so you can free up some space to allow for higher ceilings.

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