Is your basement being put to good use? While you may be storing furniture, canned goods, or tools downstairs, why not refurbish your home's lowest level and add living space to your family home? It really isn't terribly difficult or expensive if you start with basic changes that will let you enjoy this extra space.
Start by taking an inventory of the usable space in your basement. How many rooms could be converted to accommodate daily activities, and which ones would better serve occasional events, like holiday celebrations or kids' parties? If you are storing things in the basement, can these be moved to another area, or will they need to be kept downstairs but perhaps in one of the rooms rather than all? You also will need to work around heating and cooling appliances like the furnace, air conditioner, and hot water tank, as well as laundry equipment if you have it. When you have an idea of how much area you can afford to remake, you can start to shuffle storage and appliances to make room for you're remodeling plans.
Then decide which improvements you would like most to have. If you can't afford them all at once, you can do the repairs in stages. Do a survey of the basement to list every needed repair, update, or improvement, including the simplest as well as the most demanding. Work out a budget to see which ones you can afford to start with. You may have to contact local home improvement materials suppliers for the cost of supplies needed for the repairs. If you need to hire the work done rather than do it yourself, calculate this cost as well, estimating on the high rather than the low side.
Begin with the most pressing needs. For example, water damage or leaks, mold, cracked windows, and radon or carbon monoxide testing should be done to eliminate safety hazards and problems that will only get worse with time. You may need to have your appliances inspected, repaired, or replaced.
When these have been addressed, the next step will be to take care of structural damage. Plaster holes, cracked concrete floors, electrical updates, and plumbing overhauls should be the next set of repairs. These will bring your basement up to code and prepare it for the aesthetic level of improvements that go hand-in-hand with home decorating.
If your budget holds out, you may next want to look at adding air vents, replacing window frames or the windows themselves with glass block, and installing floor tiles, rather than carpet, since they are easier to clean and maintain. You can even put up wallboard or panel siding to make the rooms more homey and inviting. Lighting fixtures or track lighting can brighten dark or dim areas of your basement.
From there it is just a matter of adding furnishings to complete your renovation project. To cut costs, you can buy these second-hand at garage sales or thrift stores, or buy seconds at furniture stores, since these items won't be used everyday.
Follow these tips and you'll be enjoying a new space in your home and added value.