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. 

CONGRATULATIONS TEAM!!!

The following is press release that went out to announce the recognition of Gehman Design Remodeling as a local and regional NARI Contractor of the Year (CotY) award winner.
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“Gehman Design Remodeling Earns NARI CotY Award”

Harleysville, PA – Dennis Gehman, president of Gehman Design Remodeling (GDR) is pleased to announce that they have been recognized by the Bucks Mont chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) for doing exceptional work.  GDR was in the running for a CotY (Contractor of the Year) award in the category, Residential Interior under $100,000 at the annual Bucks Mont NARI “Evening of Excellence” dinner.

 

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Bar-left-end-vertical-for-web-199x300GDR was awarded a first place CotY award in the category Residential Interior under $100,000.  The project that won the award was designing and installation of a Bar in a Basement.  The client wanted the bar to feel elegant, warm and inviting, and to not have a commercial bar feel. Details such as the tin ceiling, wood soffit and lighting coordinate to make the bar meet and exceed the client’s expectations. A regional CotY award was also given to this project.  The project is now in the running for a national CotY award. The national award winner will be announced at the “Evening of Excellence” being held at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.

Dennis Gehman, president of Gehman Design Remodeling said, “We are honored to be noticed by our peers within the remodeling industry for these projects. Our focus is to provide first class design and craftsmanship for each of our clients whether we win an award or not. Satisfied clients are the future of our business.”

Two other projects by Gehman Design Remodeling were recognized as “Meritorious” award winners this year as well.

Congratulations is in order to our entire design team and our outstanding craftsman.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Bar-sink-feature-final-for-web-236x300You can see this and many other projects that haveproduced awards and satisfied clients by visiting our portfolio page located on our website.

Don’t hesitate to contact Gehman Design Remodeling for your next remodeling project. Who knows? It could be the next award winning project.

Happy Remodeling!

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Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

Planning Your Basement Space #6: Enjoy Your New Space

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Welcome To Your New         New Basement Plenty of       Your New Basement Dance

Basement                               Space                                  Studio

 

Sitting in your Kitchen, you notice something strange. Things are quiet downstairs.

No more hammers, no power saws, no drills.

None of the workers came up to get their cup of coffee and the plate of cookies has not been touched.That is when it hits you…it’s Monday morning and the painters and carpenters finished up the project on Friday afternoon.  The weeks of construction noise, dirt, dust and inconvenience are over! You get your privacy back again. And now you get to claim the new space as your own.

Hopefully, the project has gone the way that you and the contractor had planned. Even more importantly, the space has turned out better than expected.

After the contractor has handed the project over to you, you should take the time to do the following:

1. Take a walk through the space with your contract in hand, along with any and all additional work orders. Review the finished product in light of the project as proposed. Note any discrepancies or deviations that you need to address with the contractor.    

2. Review any outstanding items that may be contained on a short “punch list.” These are items that are outstanding and 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 time frame for completion, as well as who is responsible for the completion of each of the outstanding items.    

3. Visit each space. Whether it is the Game Room, Craft Room, Kitchen, Living Room, Home Theater, etc., to confirm the idea of the environment that you want to create in each space. This will continue the interior design process that was started when you picked the paint colors and the flooring way back during the selection process. Remember, don’t clutter every space with furniture right away.    

4. Move in. Don’t be afraid to use the new space that is what you designed it for!     

5. Throw a grand opening party. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing guests enjoying the environment that you created. 

Let yourself enjoy the new spaces. You endured the inconveniences of the construction, now grant yourself the freedom to spread out and grow into the expanded floor plan that is your new finished Basement.

Happy Remodeling!

Next Time…What To Do With All The Old Stuff?     

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

Planning Your Basement Space #5: Egress, Friend or Foe?

If you live in a fairly new home, this topic may not be an issue in that most new homes have some type of secondary entry way. In older homes, such as we deal with in our area quite frequently, a second entry to the Basement was not an important feature. Most homes, new or old, will have some type of exterior entrance to the Basement, a stairwell, a Bilco door unit, a walk out Basement door, etc. However, depending on what you are using your newly finished Basement for, you may be required to provide more egress than just two exit points.

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Different Types of Egress

Many families, when finishing off their Basement, are looking for a guest room or additional sleeping quarters. If you add a Bedroom to your Basement, this room will be required to have its own source of egress to the outside. This could be a door or a window, but this would be in addition to the main egress points in other parts of the Basement.

Inevitably, when we bring up the subject of egress requirements with our clients, we are asked “how can we get out of complying with the code?” And mostly this question comes up in the discussion of budget. Adding an additional means of egress to a Basement can easily add $5,000 or more to the cost of the project. Here is the answer that we give to the issue of complying with the egress requirements of the code. We try to get our clients to understand that the code is there to address the safety of their family and guests in the case of an emergency, such as a fire. We try to get them to look at the situation from the other side of such an event. Do they want to be able to say that everyone got out safely? Or, heaven forbid, they are lamenting the fact that someone got trapped in the Basement because they chose not to comply with the building codes that were there to enhance the safe use of their new space.

In relation to the scope of the project, the topic of egress in the eyes of a client can be a budget buster. However, as far as egress being “friend or foe”, I can promise you that it will be your friend when it counts the most. In the end, we recommend that you hold the safety of your family and guests in the highest regard and do not skirt the code requirements when it comes to egress. You will not be sorry.

Happy Remodeling!

Next Time… Planning Your Basement Space #6: Enjoy Your New Space

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

 

Planning Your Basement Space #4: Developing a Floor Plan

We are now ready to start placing walls into our blank canvas and commence developing the floor plan for the new Basement space.

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Maximize Space on Exterior Wall

The exterior walls can be seen as a given or pre-defined. These are the walls that are covering up the foundation walls. It is best to keep these as far against the outside walls as possible as to maximize the usable floor space. Items that need to be considered are plumbing and water pipes, electrical wiring and the need for access panels.

One of the first interior walls that are generally placed is for the Utility Room. Hiding the utilities is priority. Remember to take into account the code requirements for service space in front of and around the units.

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Stairwell walls; Open or Enclosed?

Next, establish the stairwell. Generally, you will need to decide a few things around the stairwell. One, will it be an enclosed or open staircase. Second, how will the space under the staircase be used? Will it be closet? Will there be shelving there? In any case, remember that most codes require the underside of the staircase to be drywalled.

After these few walls have been placed, stand back and take a look at the remaining space. My recommendation is to refrain from going wall happy. Too many walls (rooms) will restrict the use of the space and make it feel confining. Of course you need to accommodate certain spaces such as powder rooms and bathrooms, bedrooms and other private spaces, however, be careful not to chop up a nice open floor plan.

Kitchens and entertainment areas do not necessarily need interior walls. Playrooms and craft areas may need walls to accommodate closets and storage needs.

Perhaps one of the best investments at this stage would be a roll of masking tape. You can use the masking tape to layout the placement of interior walls and try to get a feel for how the walls will impact the space. Also another tool to help you plan your space is a good professional interior designer. If your builder does not employ or recommend someone, do your homework and find one to help with floor plan layout. If you are doing this project yourself, invest in an hour or two of designer time to bounce your ideas off of. This is the time to make adjustments and perhaps consider some things that you didn’t think of.

Remember, don’t give in to the tendency to chop up the floor plan with walls. Words like open, spacious and usable are music to your ears when describing the finished product.

Happy Remodeling!

Next Time… Planning Your Basement Space #5: Egress, Friend or Foe?

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

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