In a world where the population is growing faster than it can accommodate, space is a rare and valued possession. In this regard, most homeowners (unbeknownst to them), are sitting on gold mines. Yes, the basement need not be a dungeon whose only purpose is storing ‘unwanted’ items. With some creativity and a bit of DIY remodeling, you can turn your basement into an amazing space. Depending on how you pull it off, you just might end up liking it more than your actual living room. This could also be a worthwhile investment, depending on your neighborhood, your remodeling may increase your home’s resale value and you could recoup as much as 78% of money spent.
But the thing about basement remodeling is that it can end up costing a fortune if you don’t plan it carefully. This does not mean that you can’t do it on a budget, you just need some smart tips, and above all else exercise restraint!
Tips for Remodeling on a Budget
Every home improvement project is defined by three elements:
- Project scope
The scope of your project can quickly get out of hand. This ends up preventing you from meeting your deadlines and sticking to your initial budget, so you need to be very clear and strict about your plans. Do not be one of those who instead of only adding a sink as planned, adds a luxury kitchen and bar!
Be realistic about your goals too, making significant structural changes to your basement will require professional help and add to overall costs. You are also bound to come across surprises along the way, so add about 5-10% on top of the budget to spend on these situations.
Before you embark on your project, gather lots of ideas. Attend tradeshows, read home improvement magazines and check out various websites. Pinterest should be your best friend at this point. Find what you like and incorporate it into the project on a scale that you can handle.
Shop for your products and tools in local stores or Amazon and be on the lookout for discounts and coupons.
Have a look on Craig’s List for deals on construction materials and tools. Google your local upcycling building stores or pawn stores to see if you can score a bargain. This requires a bit of hunting but it could save you thousands on material costs.
Use your weekends to paint and decorate your space as you please.
To add more ‘rooms’ to your space without structural changes, you can make some temporary wooden room dividers. These are simple and easy to make and add more functional space to a basement.
Planning and Considerations
Even as a DIY project, basement remodeling is a big undertaking – but one that has enormous rewards with proper planning. As you get inspiration and ideas, you also need to know what inspections and permits are required for the changes you will make. You should call your local authorities for more information on this as you do not want to get on the wrong side of the law. Your happy ending will be crowned by you paying hefty fines for unauthorized renovations.
It is important to note that depending on where you live, some building codes require certain remodeling tasks to be done by a licensed professional. Check with the local authorities to determine if you can do the plumbing and wiring on your own and hire a professional handle the floor and wall finishes. This will help you save on costs. If you have the time do it all on your own, go for it! You will save a lot more.
Water leakage can ruin your well planned and finished basement project if you fail to consider it from the start. Inspect your situation and determine whether you need to waterproof your basement from the outside. It may be wise to seek professional advice for this.
The fun part is deciding on your color scheme, any feature walls or art you will incorporate and the flooring style. We recommend making use of online planning tools. However, if you are more of a traditional DIY-er, get a scrapbook and start including all your ideas for each element of your basement, along with generous estimated costs.
A few years ago, basement remodeling was done to add a guest bedroom or provide kids with some space to play. While these are still viable options, homeowners are now expanding their thinking and adding more functionality to their basements. We have come across basements transformed into home theaters, game rooms, home gyms, private museums to showcase their small collection of valuables, cellars, walkout basements, music rooms and sports rooms with several televisions.
The list is endless. But with any basement remodeling trend you choose, do your research on the items you will need to incorporate. For the music room, for instance, you need to make it sound proof. For the walkout basement, you will need to ensure you have ample lighting.
While all these trends might seem expensive and not achievable as DIY, there valuable changes you can make that will allow you to pull off the remodeling on a budget and create the space you want.
Before and After
To provide you with some inspiration for your remodeling projects, below are some before and after images of successful projects.
This was a typical basement used as storage for items the owner was not sure what to do with. The basement was truly in bad shape.
After some DIY remodeling, the basement (same footprint) is now transformed into a cozy and warm room. If you woke up and found yourself in this room, you wouldn’t imagine you are in the basement. While the work done on this room is extensive, a lot of it can be done as DIY.
The owner of this space thought it wise to transform this room into their son’s personal space. It is small and quaint, but sufficient.
With simple ideas from home improvement websites and magazines, you can pull off this project quite easily. Most of the transformation was completed with recycled and upcycled material, saving the owner thousands.
This was an unfinished basement that was a void space not being utilized. All the structural elements were exposed and it was a cold dark nook.
The room was transformed into a beautiful home gym. It required some structural changes, however a lot of it was essentially finishing off the walls and floor in a clean chic way. As there are no windows in this basement, like most basements, they’ve incorporated beautiful soft lighting to give warmth to the once cold dark space. This is definitely a room I’d like to hang out in!
This was a large basement that appeared to be left abandoned. The carpet, walls and staircase look dated and although there is great natural light, it still seemed dingy.
The owners saw the potential of the space and converted it into a modern basement apartment. They replaced the old carpet with sleek wooden floorboards and installed panels on the walls to give it a country home feel. The staircase was also updated and lighting was installed to brighten up the room. This is a gorgeous space for guests to stay or even your own homely retreat!
Most basements have scary staircases that lead into darkness. Stairs are a cost effective and easy way for DIYers to update the entrance of their basement.
These same stairs have been transformed into a modern staircase with wall paneling. The white brightened up an otherwise dark and narrow passageway. With the right planning, this project could be completed over a holiday weekend. This basement staircase will be the envy of your friends and neighbors!
As with scary staircases, most basements also have structural beams. These are great for holding the room up, however they are an eye-sore and usually inconveniently positioned in the middle of the room. There is a way to transform these beams without making expensive structural changes…
These beams have been remodeled and incorporated into the style of the room. The beams look like they naturally belong in the room, giving the space a classy modern appearance. This is also a DIY project that you could complete over a weekend, given the right preparation and planning.
The Cost of DIY Renovation vs. Hiring a Contractor
Research shows that most good general contractors – the kind that will hire and supervise their subcontractors including carpenters, electricians and plumbers, will markup the costs of labor and materials by about 20%. In essence, if a remodeling would cost you about $15,000, you would end up spending about $3,000 more. This is money that could be well spent elsewhere.
But choosing whether to hire a professional or DIY is not as easy as considering the extra cost of the budget. You also need to consider your experience, skills and schedule, and work out what you can feasibly do yourself. It is no secret that a basement remodel will eat up a lot of your time. While you would save some cash overseeing and handling most of the remodeling aspects, if you do not have the time or skills, you’ll be better off hiring professionals.
Bear in mind that this is an investment. You cannot afford for too many things to go wrong as it could cost you a whole lot more to fix them.
I hope this article has provided you with some inspiration to start remodeling your basement, even if it is starting small and working your way around the room.