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Basement Finishing – Economically Expand Living Space

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Modern basements are multipurpose areas where the entire family enjoys the expanded space. Living in an area where a full basement is the norm gives Madison WI residents an opportunity to expand their living space with a basement refinishing project. An aspect of a home remodeling plan that should get top priority is bringing a basement into the realm of everyday use. The basement needn’t be a catchall and storage overflow. With forethought and planning your basement will become an active participant in your family’s routine. Beginning with a clean slate, what goes into a wise basement remodeling project? Here are six basic considerations to start with:

  1. Walls and ceilings – dress up the walls with more than just paint. Consider wainscot to not only add style but protect drywall from dings and dents.

  1. Lighting – one of the reasons basements are underappreciated is the lack of lighting. Consider recessed lighting in the ceiling – especially in older homes where ceilings are usually quite low.

  1. Consider natural light – when you can, expand the number of windows and enlarge the existing one. NOTE – if you’re planning a basement bedroom an egress window is mandatory.

  1. Maximize storage – the basement will always be an ideal storage location and a basement finishing plan should include organized space like walk-in closets and build-in shelves – including custom designs for your family’s special requirements.

  1. Build a better stairway – like so many aspects of the basic basement, the stairs seldom get much attention. Upgrade your stairs – consider them as you would on the main level of your home as you take into account safety, lighting and design.

  1. Don’t forget utilities – even though you’re home remodel is bringing the basement into everyday living the mechanical heartbeat of your home is still there, somewhere. When you plan your basement finishing take particular care to ensure the furnace, water heater and other essentials are easily accessible the change filters, etc. NOTE – pay particular attention to sound-proofing the area so the sound of the furnace fan doesn’t interfere with normal conversation, etc.

Basement Finishing – Evaluate Potential Egress windows are mandatory for a basement bedroom, but add a great deal to any basement finishing design. Every home has options to choose from when it comes to a basement project. Some have more potential than others. Consider the unique characteristics that influence what your final plan can include:

  • Foundations – be sure the foundation is solid, no cracks or signs of stress (especially critical in older homes).

  • Water issues – are there signs of water damage? Do you regularly get water in the basement? Address these before spending time and money on anything new.

  • Ceilings – low ceilings, especially in older homes, limit the kind of lighting that is advisable and can also play a significant role in the routing of duct work.

  • Walls – are there walls already in place? Can they be moved or altered? Where would you put new walls and how would they impact existing duct work, etc.?

  • Floors – is the existing floor in good condition – cracks, chipped concrete?

Imagine the Options for Basement-oriented Home Remodel When your home was built, it likely had only one or two rooms mapped out in the basement. In many cases the basement was created as one big room. That layout presents itself as a blank canvas open to all the options your imagination can come up with. A modern basement-oriented home remodel project includes more than one or two rooms. Basement finishing means adding usable space for a variety of activities. Make the most of the space. What will your plan include?

  • A home office

  • A snack bar/kitchen eating area

  • Family entertainment center

  • A game room

  • Exercise/Workout facilities – with bathroom/shower

  • Media center/home theater

  • Hobby center/workshop

  • Organized storage for special items

  • Additional bedrooms— NOTE, there are legal requirements for basement bedrooms that must be met.

While the “man cave” and home theater are still popular options for basement finishing efforts, more and more people are turning to the multiple use idea. These specialty rooms are giving way to the “family rec center” concept where all the family gets in on the activities.

Egress Window Required for Bedrooms Adding a bedroom in the basement has always been a great way to expand living space as the family changes – when you need more bedrooms or older children need “their space.” That’s true today with one major requirement – any basement finishing project that includes a basement MUST install an egress window. It’s the law. Egress simply means “a way out.” In most cases an egress window can be retrofit to an existing home. Adding an egress window makes sense even if you’re not building a bedroom. They increase the comfort and appeal of any room – transforming dark basements with natural light. When it comes to resale value, they’re valuable, too. Egress windows do more than provide a safe way out…

  • Create more inviting family spaces

  • Provide natural light and reduce electric bills

Modern installation methods and a host of styles and sizes make these windows an excellent choice for any basement finishing project and should be high on the list for your basement-oriented home remodel.

TIP FROM A PRO — When finishing your basement, think energy-efficiency. Insulate basement walls and seal all possible air leaks around the areas where pipes or wires come in from outside. Replace older windows with Energy Star certified high-performance windows. Add living space without boosting your energy bills!

Select a Home Remodel Pro

A home remodel, big or small, requires skill and experience. Westring Construction LLC has the expertise and experience to review all the options any home project anywhere in Dane County and surrounding areas including Sun Prairie, Waunakee, Middleton, Verona, Fitchburg, McFarland, Cottage Grove and Stoughton.

Call Westring Construction LLC at 608-441-5435 or email us to begin planning your basement-oriented home remodel and complete your Madison WI basement finishing project.

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