How to Remodel Your Basement

Find out about safety concerns and important first steps involved in basement remodeling

It's just sitting there taking up space, collecting dust and old furniture and maybe some boxes you never unpacked from your last move. You've probably been thinking about remodeling your basement for a few years, but you're not sure what the next steps are or how much it will cost. Before you remodel your basement, turning it into a fun, useful space for your family, consider these important first steps:

  • Radon testing: Radon is a colorless, odorless, dangerous gas that can seep into your home through cracks in the floor, construction joints, cracks in the walls, or even the water supply. It can be found with a simple, inexpensive test, and there are methods available to reduce radon levels by 99%. Before you begin planning your basement remodel, test for radon, and hire a contractor to make any necessary repairs.
  • Moisture testing: If you have a basement that floods, you may want to reconsider finishing the basement as you could end up with permanent water damage to any carpet or furniture you put down there. However, if your basement is moist and you're not sure whether it's water coming in through the foundation or just condensation, there is a simple test you can do. Cut up a garbage bag and tape squares of it around the basement on both the walls and floor. Leave them for a week, and then check which side of the bag is wet. If it's the side facing the room, you just have condensation, but if it's the side against the wall or floor, you will need to repair any leaks and consider waterproofing before you continue renovating.
  • Clean out junk: If you've resolved your radon and moisture issues, you're ready to begin remodeling your basement. First, you'll need to clean out any items you might be storing in the space and sweep up dust and dirt.
  • Utilities: Establish where the plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical systems run in the basement. This will allow you to design around these important utilities and is especially important if you plan to use part of the space for a bathroom or laundry room.
  • Detailed plans: Draw up detailed plans for the space including where doors and windows will be and how you intend to use the space. If you're not sure where to start, consider enlisting the help of a contractor or interior designer with experience in remodeling basements.
  • Permits: There are certain restrictions for basement remodeling projects that you'll need to be aware of. For example, if you intend to use any part of the basement as a bedroom, you'll need to include a window that's large enough to serve as an alternative exit point in case of emergency. Look into local zoning laws and permit requirements to find out what you need to do to complete your project.

Obtain quotes from several contractors and apply for a remodeling loan

Unless you're a pro at home improvements, you should consider getting a contractor to remodel your basement. Since you may need to install walls and insulation or run electric and cable wires through the space, it's best to work with a professional.

Once you get a quote for labor and materials from a contractor, be sure to compare it to several others before making a decision. Ask friends, family or neighbors for trusted contractors they've used in the past. The materials and appliances you choose to install will likely affect the quote as well, so make sure you have a good handle on the design of the space before contacting a contractor. Once you've gotten a quote you're happy with, apply for the financing to remodel.

Finance your remodel with home equity options from Citizens Bank

When starting a basement remodel from scratch, your best bet for a remodeling loan is a home financing option from Citizens Bank. Our Home Loan Advisors can help you decide whether borrowing with a home equity line of credit or taking out a large lump sum by applying for a home equity loan would work best for your project. For more information on home equity loans or lines of credit - speak to an advisor.


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