6 Pitfalls to Avoid When Refinishing Your Basement

Refinishing a basement involves primarily cosmetic changes, such as installing flooring or encasing pipes and ductwork. Choosing to refinish the basement can bring a substantial return on investment. It can also make your space look more visually appealing and help you feel more encouraged to use it.

Here are six pitfalls to steer clear of when you’re interested in going ahead with a basement refinishing project.

  • 1. Blocking the Basement’s Drainage System or Essential Equipment

Due to their low location relative to the rest of the house, a basement is at risk of flooding. During the basement refinishing process, some homeowners cover their existing basement drainage system. But then, if the basement fills with water later, getting the water out could involve tearing up the floor, leaving you unable to patch it.

The best approach to take is to install new flooring around the drain. Make sure the drain is still visible after the completion of any work. Taking that precaution lets you avoid catastrophes later.

Don’t forget about equipment that people often have in their basements, such as water heaters. Any refinishing strategy must accommodate it, particularly if you need repairs or maintenance carried out later.

  • 2. Turning Basement Refinishing Into a DIY Project

Many people feel compelled to do home improvement tasks themselves. They might assume they’ll save money and anticipate feeling a tremendous sense of pride after getting the project done. However, a 2019 homeowners survey from ImproveNet found that basement finishing was the fifth most regretted task they did themselves, ranked on a list of 32 enhancements.

The most common complaint people had was that their do-it-yourself project took longer than anticipated. Sizeable percentages of respondents also mentioned that the things they did without professional help were physically or technically more difficult than expected.

It’s wise to do research and use that information to determine the extent of your DIY project and assist with setting a budget. Once you get to the action phase, though, let a professional step in and take the lead. Even if that approach costs more, it will likely save you time and frustration.

  • 3. Choosing the Wrong Flooring Option

Selecting flooring is a central task associated with basement refinishing. Some people make blunders by installing wood or laminate flooring. However, flooring wholly or largely containing wood is not ideal considering the moisture that often gets into the basement.

A leak or flood could cause permanent damage to wood or laminate flooring, causing you to rack up costs while replacing the material. However, a floor coating made from epoxy is a wise choice. It’s strong and durable, plus easy to clean. Provided a professional installs it correctly, an epoxy coating can last for 10 to 20 years, depending on how much foot traffic the surface gets. It’s a smart investment.

If you go with an epoxy coating, ensure that the person who applies it thoroughly assesses the area to check characteristics such as temperature, moisture and airflow. Those aspects affect the application specifics. Plus, putting the epoxy coating on correctly avoids problems like bubbling or dullness.

  • 4. Failing to Set an Adequate Budget

Statistics from HomeAdvisor mention that basement finishing costs range from $6,500 to $18,500. That’s a large span because of the size variations between basements and the abundant possibilities regarding which materials people use. Flooring and wall panels generally comprise the largest chunk of a basement refinishing project, though.

Moreover, starting with an unfinished basement in poor condition will add to the overall costs. Consider having an inspection done to check for water damage or foundation issues before going ahead with your basement refinishing plans. Then, it’s less likely you’ll encounter unexpected extra expenses.

You also risk budget issues by getting over-eager about the project and deciding you’ll calculate the costs as you go along and make money-related decisions when needed. Deciding on a realistic budget in advance gives you more freedom to explore the options and choose the ones that are best for you.

  • 5. Assuming You Don’t Need a Permit

Some people assume they can refinish their basements without permits. However, the specifics vary depending on where you live, and the building authorities may require one. You can usually confirm this by making a quick phone call or browsing an official local or regional website.

Otherwise, dumpsters in your yard or the trucks used by professionals helping you with the project could tip people off. If an inspector stops by and determines you did not get a permit before starting, they may force you to go back and make changes to completed work. Or, the lack of that document could cause problems when selling the home. That could happen if the occupancy permit does not reflect the refinished basement.

Getting a permit isn’t expensive, especially considering that having one lets you stay free from preventable problems. If you need one, treat that necessity as an essential early component of your overall refinishing agenda.

  • 6. Hiring Professionals Without Doing Careful Research First

Figuring out which professionals to hire for your basement refinishing project involves more than doing a Google search and clicking on the first result. Explore the websites for each option and go to external review sites to get an idea of what to expect.

It’s okay to get recommendations from friends about which basement refinishing professionals they used and liked. However, no two projects are the same, and you still need to engage with the company to see whether they have the experience to do what you need.

Many contractors guarantee their work and the longevity of the materials used. If you employ such a provider, read the fine print for the guarantee and ask questions about any uncertainties.

  • Get Set for Basement Refinishing Success

Basement refinishing can be a significant project. However, being aware of these six mistakes can help you avoid making them and allow you to look forward to satisfying results.

  • This is a guest post not written by the website’s owner.