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Should I Renovate My Basement or Make a Home Addition?

Renovating a basement or adding an addition to a home is often a dilemma homeowners face when they’re looking for more living space. It’s not the easiest question to answer since every home and living situation is unique. If you’re looking at price only, then finishing a basement is generally the least expensive option along with less red tape than an addition.   However, you need to realize that most basements will need preparation before finishing it, like removing moisture and water issues coming through your foundation.

Do you have room to expand?

If you’re considering an addition to your home, then you’ll need adequate space outside of the house to build it. An addition will also require a foundation, roofing, windows, and walls. Some people also considering building upwards by adding another floor to their home. In this case, the house’s foundation will have to be strong enough to handle the additional weight and a staircase will need to be added. In general, an extra story is less expensive than an addition as the foundation is already there.

Finishing a basement is a lower-cost way of building a family room, bar, games room, workout room, office, home theatre or extra bedroom etc. As mentioned when compared to an addition, the benefits to finishing a basement are the price and the existing room. The basement may be a dark and damp concrete dungeon at the moment, but the area already exists in the home. This makes it much more cost affordable than building an addition and you can often come close to doubling your living space.

The condition of your basement

It’s not always the easiest job though and not all basements are ideal for finishing. You’ll need to add lighting and ventilation and control the moisture. You’ll also have to deal with wiring, plumbing and ductwork. Of course, if you’re an experienced handyperson you can always attempt the renovations yourself. For those who don’t have the time or confidence, it’s recommended you hire a professional contractor to help you out. However, if your basement has a problem with water then it’s imperative you fix that problem first.

If you’re planning on finishing a basement or building an addition to the home, be sure to check out the local bylaws and building codes regarding the necessary permits. You’ll need to abide by the height requirements for the ceiling and also consider the windows and doors that may be need to be used as an escape route in case of emergency. If you’re planning on several lower-level rooms, each one should have it’s own escape route. Stairways will also need to be considered as they may have to meet local building codes. In some instances, existing staircases may need to be replaced, which will add to the cost of the renovation.

The basement’s existing plumbing and electrical wiring can often be relocated, but will also add to the cost. In some cases, they may be hidden in a closet, wall or a drop ceiling with acoustic panels. The proper type of insulation will need to be installed to help fight off moisture and cold air. But even though basement walls need to be insulated, they don’t require as much insulation as above-ground exterior walls. As for the flooring, there are numerous options such as carpeting, tile, laminate and vinyl. Hardwood flooring isn’t as popular since moisture could negatively affect the wood. A masonry sealer should be applied though before installing the flooring.

The lighting needs to be taken care of via windows, doors and/or options such as track lighting and recessed incandescent lighting. When you’ve chosen the lighting don’t forget you’ll need a good ventilation system to keep the basement air comfortable all year long. Warm, dry air needs to be brought in and moist air needs to be eliminated. If your home already has a forced-air heating system then this is generally a small job. However, you may want to add a dehumidifier.

When it comes to home additions, the major benefit is that they can create more living space than a finished basement. Of course, in some instances you can always do both if they’re within your budget. While additions are certainly pricey, these costs can sometimes be recouped when selling the home. Your property taxes may also rise with an addition as well as the heating and cooling costs and general housekeeping. But you’ll be able to use your creativity design the living space of your dreams.  

Have questions?
If you have questions about renovating your basement or creating an addition to your home, contact us for a free in-home consultation and estimate.