Saturday, February 7, 2004

Basement basics

Start with a dry basement: Any problems, even rare ones, with dampness or flooding should be dealt with before work begins. Talk to a home inspector whose specializes in waterproofing problems.

Uses: Make a list of how you want to utilize the space before calling a contractor or architect, whether it be an extra bed and bath, an entertainment center, a game room with a pool or ping-pong table, a workout room, a place for the children to play and store toys or a hobby center.

Utilities: In older homes, furnaces and water heaters are often in the center of the basement for efficiency. Do the wiring, plumbing, air ducts need to be relocated to open up space and increase efficiency in newly created spaces?

Light: A basement's low ceiling height might cancel overhead fixtures. You will need to consider recessed lighting and indirect lighting that splashes light on the ceiling or perhaps bigger window wells or larger windows if they exist. Light paint colors, white trim, light industrial carpeting can brighten a space.

Insulation: Besides keeping out the cold, basement insulation prevents condensation. If using the space for children or a home theater, sound may be an issue as well.

Entry: Putting a lot of money into the basement is fruitless if the entry isn't attractive. Consider French doors, easy access and light colors to help maximize the light and create a handsome entryway.

Theater specialist: Consult experts for optimum sound, speaker placement, screen size, wiring, etc., if a home theater is in your plans.

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