Planning your Basement Remodel

Planning Your Basement Remodel


Remodeling your Basement will not only give you a relaxing space to spend time with family and friends, but it can also increase the value of your home. Just like any home renovation project, designing the perfect Basement is a process that requires careful thought and planning. 

This guide will walk you through every step of the process, from the visual planning to the hands-on labor, to help ensure you don’t overlook anything while planning your Basement Remodel project. Let’s get started:

Finished Basement Remodel

Step 1: Evaluate your space

Before you can think about the placement of decorative items, paint colors, or flooring, you need to take a few moments to evaluate your existing space. Think of the elements you want in your basement and where you want them. Do you want to make it into a man cave? Will it be a game room? Think about how you would want yourself and others to use this space. 

Next, look over the items that you want to keep, you have to keep, and the items you want to donate or throw away. It may feel unnecessary, but it will save you a lot of headaches once the construction aspect of the project begins. 

Keep in mind the items that you will have to keep, no matter how much space they may take. These items include the heater/AC unit and associated ductwork, water heater, well pump, sump pump and pit, electrical panel and wiring, pipes, support columns, and beams. 

It’s important to remember while these items will still need to be part of your Basement, you may be able to move them to a new location during the construction process. Just be sure to work with a professional to make sure you choose a logical and realistic location if you decide to move these items. 

For example, you’ll need to account for minimum space requirements and for fresh air intake for heaters. Check with your local code officials and establish these requirements for all your units before finalizing your floor plan. 

Now that you have visualized your space and checked over items you’ll either keep or remove, you can move on to the next step of your Basement Remodel process.

Step 2: Beams and columns

The next step is to evaluate the fixed items in your Basement. These are items that can’t be moved and thus need to be incorporated into your planning. Home builders aren’t concerned with a basement’s feng shui when placing support beams and columns. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make them look nice. 

Let’s take a look at some solutions for your existing beams and columns:

Support columns are generally unmovable, as they are supporting the weight from above. 

Here are some solutions to work around columns:

    • Solution 1: Box them in and make them look decorative with trim and moldings. 
    • Solution 2: Plan walls so that they incorporate the column inside of the wall.
    • Solution 3: Design the columns so that they’re part of the room’s environment and vibe.

Beams usually need to stay in place as well, as they span openings and are weight-bearing just like columns. 

Here are some solutions to work around beams:

    • Solution 1: Use the bottom height of beams to establish soffit heights. These soffits can be used to create visually pleasing coved/coffered ceilings.
    • Solution 2: If ceiling height and design style permits, you can establish a dropped beam pattern across the ceiling of certain spaces to hide the beams.
    • Solution 3: Again, use the bottom height of the beam to establish your ceiling height, effectively making the beam disappear altogether.
    • Solution 4: Plan your walls to line up with the beam.

Now that you have covered solutions on how to work around the columns and beams, you can move on to the next step in planning out your Basement Remodel.

Step 3: Waterproofing your basement

The next step is to determine if your basement is waterproofed, i.e. dry. If it’s anything but a resounding “yes” you will need to address this prior to starting your Basement Remodel.

Major signs that indicate you may have a waterproofing issue:

  • Watermarks or stains on the floor and/or walls
  • Efflorescence on walls or floors
  • Musty or moldy smell
  • Mold growth on items stored in the space
  • Rotten wood framing members; especially those that are in contact with masonry surfaces
  • Cracks in the walls or floors

If any of these signs are present, make sure to be diligent in remediating the issues prior to moving forward with your project. The most cost-effective and timely way to address water problems is before you start remodeling your Basement. 

It’s best to work with a professional when seeking help in addressing water problems in your basement. Don’t settle for subpar work. Remember, doing a thorough job now can prevent future issues from occurring down the road. Be smart in choosing the professional that fixes your water problems. 

Step 4: Developing a floor plan

Now you can start the exciting step of developing a new floor plan for your Basement. Two things that are important to address are your exterior walls and your stairwell walls. 

Exterior walls are what cover your foundation walls. The best thing to do is to keep them as far against the outside walls as it allows. This will maximize your usable floor space. Consider items like plumbing and water pipes, electrical wiring, and the need for access panels when planning for the walls. Keep in mind, one of the first interior walls that are generally placed is for the utility room since hiding utilities is typically a priority. Remember to take into account the code requirements for service space in front of and around the units.

Establishing your stairwell is an important aspect of your floor plan. You will need to decide a few things around your stairwell. First, do you want an enclosed or open staircase? Second, how will you utilize the space underneath the staircase? Would you want it to be a closet? Keep in mind, most codes require the underside of the staircase to be drywalled.

After the walls have been placed, take a step back and look at the remaining space. Try not to put up more walls than you need, since too many of them can restrict the usage of the space. Use a roll of masking tape and layout the placement of the interior walls to give you a feel for how the walls will impact your layout. You might also consider hiring a professional interior designer for a professional opinion on how to best utilize the space.

Step 5: Egress

For modern homes, this isn’t an issue since newer homes have a second entryway. This step applies more to older homes that never built a secondary entryway. Depending on the use of your space, you may be required to provide more egress than just two exit points. 

If you add a Bedroom to your Basement, it will require its own source of egress to the outside. It could be a door or a window, but this would be an Addition to the main egress points in other parts of the Basement

Many clients ask the question “How can we get out of complying with the code?” and this comes up when we discuss the budget. An additional means of egress to your basement can easily add $5,000 or more to the cost of the project. 

In response, we recommend that our clients instead ask “Why would I not want to comply with the code?” These regulations are intended to keep you and your family safe. 

Let’s say you are in a situation where you and your family need to get out of the Basement quickly but two of the exits are blocked. Wouldn’t investing in the extra egress make sense? Your family’s protection is a priority and with the addition of egress, it will ensure that your family can get to safety and be protected in case of an emergency.  

Finished walk out basement remodel

Step 6: Enjoy your new space!

So there you are relaxing in your Kitchen on a Monday morning when you notice that something seems off. You don’t hear hammers, power saws or drills. None of the workers came up to grab some coffee and the fresh batch of cookies you left out is untouched. Then it finally hits you that the carpenters and painters finished the project up on Friday afternoon. Your new Basement is ready to be enjoyed!

Hopefully, the project has been completed just the way you envisioned it would look. After the contractor has handed the project over to you, make sure to take the time and do the following:

  1. Take a walk through the new Basement with your contract in hand, along with any and all additional work orders. Make sure to note any discrepancies or deviations that need to be addressed. 
  2. Look over any outstanding items that need to be completed at a time yet to be determined. You should receive this detailed list in writing, accompanied by a financial commitment and a timeframe for completion, as well as who is responsible for the completion of each of the outstanding items.
  3. Visit and look over each space to make sure it’s similar to what you envisioned.
  4. Enjoy and embrace your beautiful new space! Enjoy the time you spend there, as that’s why you did the project in the first place.
  5. Throw a grand opening party. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing guests enjoying the environment that you created.

Does this guide have you feeling ready for a Basement Remodel of your own? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll be there for you every step of the way so you can be enjoying your beautiful new basement in no time. 

7 Things to Consider Before Starting a Bathroom Remodel

7 Things to Consider Before Starting a Bathroom Remodel


We believe that a Bathroom Remodel  is one of the most exciting upgrades you can make to your home. However, there are a lot of decisions involved to ensure you end up with the bathroom that fits your family’s needs.

By putting extra thought and planning into what you want to accomplish with your remodel project, you are more likely to end up with the bathroom of your dreams as the end result.

This comprehensive overview will walk you through the different things you need to consider when preparing for your bathroom remodel.


Consider a Frameless Glass Shower

1. Which bathroom do you want to remodel?

The type of bathroom you are looking to remodel will determine which upgrades make the most sense in your space. For example, you would approach a master bathroom renovation differently than you would a guest bathroom that is rarely used.


Your master bathroom is a personal space that gets used every day, so you’ll likely want to put more time and thought into how the bathroom is laid out, the materials that are used, etc. Additionally, if you share your master bathroom, you might want to consider double sinks in your vanity for extra space.


If you’re upgrading a child’s bathroom, on the other hand, you may want to focus less on high-quality style and more on functionality. After all, kids won’t care about granite floors!

2. Decide how you plan to use the space

If you plan to remodel your primary bathroom, take a moment to think about how you currently use the space and how you hope to use it in the future.

Do you get ready for the day quickly, without giving your bathroom a second thought? Or do you prefer to spend hours soaking in your tub, treating your bathroom as your own personal spa?

The materials you choose for your bathroom remodel may vary depending on your answer.

3. Determine the layout


The best way to maximize the space in your bathroom is to be strategic with the layout of the room. At Gehman Design Remodeling, we can help you determine how to best utilize your space to make your bathroom feel bigger and more functional.


We recommend designing your bathroom so that the toilet is not the first thing you see when you walk into the room. In some cases, our clients choose to add a water closet to their upgraded bathrooms, which is a separate room for the toilet with a door for added privacy.


Design with the future in mind


It’s worth noting that you should plan your layout with the future in mind. How will your family change over the next several years? Are you just starting your family or will your kids be out of the house soon?


The answer may impact how you choose to approach renovating your bathroom. Similarly, if you are planning to sell your house in the next five years, make sure any updates you make will increase your property value.


4. Decide on a bathtub, shower, or both


The main star of your bathroom should be your shower or tub area. When designing your new bathroom, you’ll need to decide if you want a shower, bathtub, or both. First, start by thinking about what makes the most sense for your daily needs.


If you have small children, you will want to make sure there is a tub in their primary bathroom. Or, if you have an older family member with more limited mobility, you might want to convert your old tub to a shower for a safer bathing option. If you’d like to have access to either, then we can help you develop a plan for that as well. If you can dream it, we can do it!


5. Think about areas that are often overlooked


There’s nothing worse than completing a bathroom remodel and realizing that you would have loved to add a feature that you failed to think about before starting the project. Avoid this regret by taking time to think through the different aspects of your bathroom that are often overlooked.



Good lighting can make your bathroom feel bright and open, while poor lighting options can leave your space feeling dark and dreary.


Before starting on your remodel, think about how much light you want in your bathroom and plan accordingly with extra windows, beautiful fixtures, and/or recessed lights. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks that can help create the perfect lighting for your space.



Don’t let storage be an afterthought when planning your bathroom remodel! Instead, plan storage options into your design for a more functional bathroom.


Think about how you would like to use medicine cabinets, space under the vanity, linen closets, etc. before you start your project. And don’t forget to install accessible outlets throughout your bathroom and in storage areas, if needed.



Do you need to replace your current flooring? If mold or mildew has developed underneath your tile, it could lead to extra work and excess costs. You should also think about any flooring upgrades you might want to make.


For example, if you’ve always dreamed of warming your feet in the morning on heated floors, you’ll want to plan for that prior to beginning the renovation process.



Proper ventilation is key in a bathroom, as excess moisture can build up in the space and cause problems down the line. Built-in fans can help remove moisture from the air, keeping your bathroom protected from moisture-related issues.


Hot water tank

Imagine spending the money to install a new soaking tub, only to realize you can only fill it halfway before the hot water runs out. While your hot water tank isn’t actually in your bathroom, it plays a role in making your bathroom a more enjoyable space.


If you’re planning to install a soaking tub or multi-head shower, you may need to install a larger hot water heater to accommodate your new space.


Considerations when doing a Bathroom Remodel

6. DIY vs. Contractor

After planning out your bathroom, you may be tempted to go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route and tackle the project yourself.


While DIY may be cheaper up front, it can lead to costly issues later on if everything is not done correctly from the start.


Additionally, taking on a complicated DIY bathroom remodel is time-consuming and stressful, and you might find that you are in over your head.


This will leave you looking for a contractor to clean up what you’ve started and correct any errors you’ve made.

7. Set yourself up for success when working with a contractor


Once you’ve determined how you plan to use your new bathroom, the layout you want, and the details for your space, you’ll want to reach out to contractors to find the right team for the job.



Before you even make the initial call to a contractor, it’s best to have a set budget in your mind and a good understanding of what that budget can get you.


It will allow you to have a more honest conversation with contractors so that everyone is on the same page and it will help you feel assured that you’ll be comfortable paying for your project.




Before you sign a contract, be sure that it properly outlines the scope of your project. The contract should include:

                             Details about the colors, styles, and materials that will be used.
                             A clear description of what the contractors will do.
                             The approximate start and completion dates.
                             The total price, broken out by line item.
                             Information about warranties for both materials and workmanship.




As with every relationship, communication is key between you and your contractors. Never assume that your contractor is on the same page as you are. Even if it seems redundant, it’s better to spell everything out clearly so there is no confusion.


If you’re ready to begin your bathroom remodel, Gehman Design Remodeling would love to be the team you choose to work with on your project! Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.


The Ultimate Kitchen Remodeling Guide: What You Need to Know

The Ultimate Kitchen Remodeling Guide: What You Need to Know


A kitchen remodel is an important and exciting decision. Your Kitchen is a personal retreat, the place where you start your mornings and unwind at the end of the day. Like the rest of your home, your Kitchen is a reflection of your personal style. But keep in mind that this room is also one of your home’s most purposeful and often serves multiple family members. Finding this balance between style and functionality makes a Kitchen remodel a thoughtful process.

This guide will help you evaluate your goals, ideas and options for your remodel. Hopefully your research will steer you to the best professionals for the job and to the design that will bring you the greatest pleasure.

Kitchen Remodeling

What is Cabinet Refacing?

“Cabinet refacing” is an industry term used to distinguish the refacing process from refinishing and replacing. The word “refinishing” is used to describe the process of re-painting or re-staining the existing cabinets. “Replacing the cabinets” means that the existing cabinets and boxes are torn out, and replaced with new cabinets.

With Gehman Remodeling Cabinet Refinishing, we will:

  • Remove and replace cabinet doors and drawer fronts
  • “Reface” the exposed portion of your cabinet box frames with a wood veneer to match your new doors and drawers

With Refacing, you get new doors, new drawers, and a new cabinet face, without having to tear out your existing cabinet boxes.

With Gehman Design Remodeling Cabinet Refinishing, we will:

  • Re-paint or re-stain the existing exterior visible parts of the cabinets, such as doors, drawer fronts and cabinet boxes
  • Install new hardware – pulls / knobs and hinges


Cabinet Replacement

Some homeowners would prefer to replace their cabinets with completely new stained or painted cabinets. But, understanding your cabinet choices can be confusing – especially if you meet with multiple sales representatives from different companies. Here’s a quick guide to help with your selection.

The 5 major components of a cabinet

1. The Finish

This is the first thing you notice when looking at the cabinet. It could be a beautiful stain color that is rich and enhances the grain of the wood or a smooth painted finish that brightens the room. Whichever you prefer, it’s important to note that not all finishes are the same. Most quality cabinets use a process called conversion varnish. Sparing the details, a conversion varnish provides the most durable and longest lasting coats, whether a clear-coat on top of a stain, or paint.

2. The face frame, doors, and drawer fronts

These components come in a variety of types of wood as well as engineered products. Our focus at Gehman Design Remodeling is on solid wood components. Different wood types have different densities or durability. Softer woods will dent and scratch easier but typically cost less. Harder more dense woods will be more durable but will cost more. Gehman Design Remodeling has simplified the process by narrowing the selections down to the most common choices of wood species.

3. The Box

The box of the cabinet is where you put all your dishes. It may not be the most interesting part of the cabinet, but in some ways it’s the most important. The box is what gives the cabinet it’s strength and will ultimately play a major role in how long your cabinets last. Again, there are a variety of choices, from particle / furniture board to plywood. And this is the part where a “salesman” can really confuse people. For instance, better quality cabinets will use plywood boxes, not particle / furniture board. However, if that’s all you ask about, a “salesman” will show you a cabinet with a plywood box, but it may only have a 1/4” piece of plywood for the back and sides, or a plywood skin over particle / furniture board.

Gehman Design Remodeling offers GBB – Good, Better, Best cabinets. Our lines of cabinets are designed to provide you a cabinet with all the bells and whistles, but at an affordable price.

  • Good – particle / furniture board boxes covered with laminate film that looks like wood to match the solid wood front, doors and drawers
    • Interior of the cabinet will be laminate film that looks like natural maple
  • Better – 1/2” plywood with finish wood veneer to match the wood species and finish of the solid wood front, doors and drawers
    • Interior of the cabinet will be melamine laminate that looks like natural maple
  • Best – 5/8” or 3/4” plywood with finish wood veneer to match the wood species and finish of the solid wood front, doors and drawers
    • Interior of the cabinet can be melamine laminate that looks like natural maple
      • More durable to be wiped clean with a damp cloth
    • Interior of the cabinet can be natural maple wood veneer
      • Unparalleled beauty but it isn’t quite as durable as melamine

4. Drawer Construction.

The common theme for cabinets is that each part / component can be made on a quality spectrum ranging from poor to great, and everything in between. Our cabinets drawer boxes are always solid hardwood with dovetailed corners. We never use particle / furniture board, melamine or plywood drawer boxes for stained or painted cabinets.

5. The door and drawer hardware.

Soft-close concealed cup hinges and undermount drawer glides are standard on all cabinets offered by Gehman Design Remodeling.

Kitchen Remodeling

Countertops, Sinks, Faucets, and Backsplashes

Generally, a Kitchen update includes countertops, sinks, faucets, backsplashes, lighting and flooring. Gehman Design Remodeling offers complete Kitchen remodeling services throughout Bucks and Montgomery County. 

The advantage of using us for your cabinets, countertops, sinks, and faucets include dealing with one company that is responsible for coordinating the installation of all these items. Gehman Design Remodeling uses employee tradesmen for most of the Kitchen remodeling process. The few exceptions include the installation of stone (granite and quartz) countertops. These items require special equipment for fabricating the stone products and for the delivery and installation of the countertop. Our Project Manager will be on site for all work being performed.

Kitchen Countertops

Countertops come in a variety of materials and colors, including laminate tops, solid-surfacing, granite, concrete, and quartz. Countertops are one of the most defining features of your kitchen remodel, so it’s important to take the time to understand all of your options.

Laminate Countertops


Laminates come in a wide selection of colors, patterns and designs, and textured surfaces. It’s incredibly easy to clean and doesn’t require special sealers or cleaners. It also happens to be the most affordable option as well as being naturally stain resistant.


Due to being softer material, laminate countertops are more prone to scratches than other materials. Hot pots and pans can also damage the surface if placed directly on it. Sink options can be a bit limited as laminate only allows drop-in sinks due to its construction.

Solid-Surface Countertops 


They’re more durable and higher quality than laminate, yet still cheaper than quartz, granite, and concrete. Like laminate, solid-surfacing is very easy to maintain. Scratches can easily be buffed out.


Although higher quality than laminate, it can still be damaged by hot pots and pans as well as be scratched. Also, chemicals such as nail polish removers and some specialized cleaners can damage the surface. Only available in ‘matte’ non-shiny sheen.

Granite Countertops


Easily one of the most beautiful countertop materials available, natural granite is a staple in many American homes. Due to the hardness of the material, it is resistant to scratches and is heat resistant (not heat proof, DO NOT set hot things directly on any countertop). Various price levels based on the beauty and availability of the stone. The prettier the stone the more it costs.


Aside from being rather expensive, granite countertop corners may chip or break if a heavy object falls on them. Must be sealed every 12 – 18 months to avoid stains that get into the porous stone that may not be able to be removed. Also, improper sealing can lead to less to ugliness.

Concrete countertops 


Concrete countertops are incredibly durable and can be custom-formed to fit any size or shape. These trendy countertops aren’t always grey either, they can be pigmented to achieve just about any color you want and can be further personalized by embedding shells, tiles, beads of glass, or stones.


For such a hard and durable material, they need to be regularly sealed otherwise they can be easily stained. Must be sealed every 12 – 18 months to avoid stains that get into the porous concrete that may not be able to be removed. In addition, and arguably the most important, concrete countertops are often the most expensive countertops.

Quartz Countertops


Unlike other countertop materials, engineered quartz requires minimal maintenance. It is non-porous, doesn’t need to be sealed, and is super easy to clean. Quartz is natural stones that are ground into small pieces, mixed with a resin and put back together in a specific color and pattern. Therefore, each small piece of stone is sealed inside resin making it stain resistant. Manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty.


Hot pans or pots right off a stove burner should not be placed directly on the surface. Also, direct sunlight from a Kitchen window can cause fading over time.


Kitchen Remodeling

Sinks & Bowls

Sinks have options galore. single bowl, bowl and a half, double bowl, bar, square, oval, round, rectangle, elongated, etc. Your selection won’t be right or wrong as it’s best based on your personal preference.

Installation types

Self-rimming / drop in – sit on top of the countertop. This is the only option for laminate counters. The traditional type of sink installation. Leaves an edge where the countertop and sink meet that may be difficult to keep clean.

Undermount – fastens underneath the counter leaving the edge of the counter around the sink exposed. This type of sink is NOT an option for laminate counters because the substrate under the laminate won’t hold up to moisture / dampness in the sink.

Apron front / farm sink – the sink extends through / takes the place of the false drawer front of the sink base cabinet. Front edge of the sink is finished because it’s visible.

Integral – available only in solid surface where the sink and countertop are made with the same resin materials that are fused / welded together for a seamless appearance. Easy to clean because there isn’t an edge to work with.

Stainless steel – a metal alloy made up of various metals that are 100% recyclable. It’s worthwhile paying for premium stainless because it will be easier to clean and look better. May be purchased with a coating of insulation on the outside which will keep dish water warmer longer and soften noise from dishes hitting the metal.

Porcelain coated cast iron – comes in many colors. Cast iron body holds temperature. Very durable but can be chipped if something heavy and hard is dropped on it.

Porcelain – solid and heavy used primarily for traditional farm house style apron sinks

Acrylic solid surface sinks – generally used for integral seamless sinks with solid surface counters but may be installed as an undermount in stone countertops.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Take your pick many styles and finishes. Solid brass body is important. Many manufacturers offer lifetime warranty. Wide spread, Single lever, pulldown sprayer, separate spray hose.


Backsplash is 4” – 6” high section directly along the back of the countertop. May be material to match the counter or tile.


Wallsplash is the section of wall at the back of the countertop up to the bottom of the wall cabinets. This area can be finished in many ways.

Painted, plastic laminate, wood that is stained or painted, stainless steel, granite or engineered quartz, tile.

Tile is the most common wallsplash material these days because it’s available in many shapes and colors and can be installed in specific patterns for a custom look.


Code requires a GFCI – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter 120-volt duplex wall outlet every 4’ of running wall space along the back of the countertops as well as any solo section of counter that is 9” wide or more. Outlets on the end of peninsula counters and both sides of islands.

Outlets are necessary but often ruin the look of a beautiful tile wallsplash. An option is to move the outlets into angled power strips installed under the back of the wall cabinets. Switches can also be installed under the cabinets.


General ceiling lighting can be surface mounted fixtures or recessed lights. Most Kitchens use LED pancake lights on dimmer switches to supply ample light to the entire space. Dimmer switches are a nice feature that can be installed on all other lights as well.

Decorative lights are used for pendant lights over the sink, island / peninsula and eating table. This is a great place to show your personality through use of color, shape and style.

Task lighting is LED strip lights under the front edge of the wall cabinets.

Ambiance lighting are LED strips inside glass door cabinets, inside deep cabinets such as pantries, lazy susan corners (base and wall), appliance garages, etc. LED strip lights may be installed on top of wall cabinets and under toe kick of base cabinets.

Interested in a remodel?

If you’re ready to take the next steps, give us a call or fill out a form and someone from our team will reach out!