So you’ve decided to renovate your basement. Be it because you want to add value to your house or utilize a basically unused space, there are things you need to think through first before breaking ground and hiring a contractor.

Like all types of home improvement, basement remodeling is a big financial commitment. You’ll have to shell out a sizeable amount of money especially if you’re design pegs are as ambitious as transforming an unfinished basement into a man cave or a home office. It’s important to know what things to expect before going all out.

Space assessment
Start with objectively looking at your space to assess the possible functions you can yield with what you already have. Given a big enough open space, the possibilities are endless. You can turn your basement into a mini-apartment complete with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Though small basements can still work well as laundry rooms. But open space isn’t the only thing that matters.

After giving your basement a general survey, it’s time to take a closer look to spot water leaks and fix them up. (Here are some useful tips and information on water leaks from USWaterproofing.com, one of the largest foundation repair companies in the Midwest.)

Finished vs unfinished
Basements can generally be categorized into two physical states from which you can begin your home improvement project: finished or unfinished. Each one has its own perks and downsides.

A finished basement is one that has a ceiling which covers piping, walls that cover your house’s foundation and sometimes tiled floors. Meanwhile, an unfinished basement is basically the bare foundation of your house. Basement finishing can be done upon your house’s construction though some people opt out of this process.

Unfinished basements are preferred by those who want a ‘blank canvas’ to design their project on. The look of unfinished basements is also preferred by some. However, a downside is that you would have to hire a contractor to finish your basement if it isn’t the look you’re going for. With finished basements, on the other hand, you can immediately start on your project without having to hire a separate contractor.

Preparing for design obstacles
Basements can present many design obstacles. Most of these are foreseeable and be dealt with accordingly to make sure that your remodeling plans go as smoothly as possible.

One of these obstacles is sneaky water leaks. Moisture and humidity are common problems in basements. You don’t want to end up with a well-designed but water-puddled basement after all. These leaks can be eliminated by sealing up air leaks or gaps, insulating your basement and purchasing a dehumidifier.

Exposed mechanical systems such as furnaces, heaters and filtration systems are also a possible hindrance in your floor plans. Ideally, you should not have to move these as they would cost you more money. So the best way around them is to literally design around them. Hide them by turning them into beams with wood or hiding them behind shelves if possible.

There’s also the problem of low-hanging ceilings. If your unfinished basement’s ceiling is already less than eight feet from the floor, take into consideration how much lower it will drop if you decide to finish your basement. Are you comfortable with the remaining headroom?

Having gone through these considerations, you can now start on your basement remodeling project with less worry. You can now focus on other important aspects such as finalizing designs or hiring a contractor.