Top Tips for Finishing Your Basement

Finished Basement Tips

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When it comes to getting a good return on investment, a finished basement is where it’s at.

Ever since the pandemic, everyone has wanted MORE SPACE, and the two best ways to add functional square footage to a home include finishing the basement and landscaping the backyard.

One of the best things you can do when finishing your basement is to hire a good quality, professional contractor. You want somebody who knows what they’re doing to avoid delays and costly mistakes.

A properly finished basement can seal the deal when selling your house, whereas a poorly finished basement is often a deal breaker.

Today, we’ll look at the top tips when finishing your basement.

Basement Lighting: Include Lots of Light

Basements have less natural light than other areas of the home. Many solid lighting options enhance the space and other aspects of your basement design by making it bright and airy instead of dark and gloomy.

Here are some of our favourite ways to add additional lighting:

It’s a shameful mistake when money is spent to install a slightly larger window that still doesn’t meet the requirement.

Egress Windows

Even if you don’t intend to build an apartment, the additional light that a large egress window provides profoundly impacts the overall value and feel of a finished basement. It also allows for easier conversion to an apartment down the road –it’s better than an illegal basement apartment!. Also, if you add a proper window in a room intended to be a bedroom, it makes it official and legal, permitting you to advertise it that way when reselling.  Research your local municipality’s building-code requirements for a legal egress window in a basement bedroom. From my experience, most homeowners, and many window installers, aren’t aware of just how large they need to be and other requirements, such as the window well size.  It’s a shameful mistake when money is spent to install a slightly larger window that still doesn’t meet the requirement.

Step and Stairway Lighting

Step and staircase lighting adds a touch of elegance and value to a property with minimal cost, and they’re very functional too! Whether you install these into your risers or along the wall, they offer an affordable option for lighting an area of your basement that’s otherwise often dark and dismal.

Recessed Lighting

Skip the track lights and go for LED recessed pot lights. If you like home automation, consider getting RGB ones to adjust the colour to coincide with a movie or your home alarm system. Otherwise, regular LEDs are perfect. Avoid those with a kelvin (colour) rating over 3,000; it will make your basement feel like a doctor’s office. However, most pot lights now include external drivers with switches to select the kelvin or colour you’d prefer.

Sconce Lighting

Sconce lights are functional in bathrooms, over wet bars and general mood lighting. Similarly to the staircase and step lighting, these can be purchased for relatively low prices up to extravagant, depending on your budget and taste.

Plan for the Future

Speakers and Home Theaters in the Basement

Even if you don’t intend to have a home theatre, you may change your mind later, or a future owner may intend to, and it’s cheaper to plan than to retrofit.

Determine the most likely location and run conduit and speaker cables. If you’re using it now, you’re good to go, if not, install junction box covers and save for a later date.

Wet Bars and Bathrooms

If installing a bathroom isn’t in the budget, include a framed-in room and roughed-in plumbing for future use. Installing drainage and waterlines after a basement is complete is often not possible or very intrusive and costly.

Also, even if you don’t intend to use the space as an apartment, installing a kitchen, or a wetbar that can be later added to or converted to a kitchen, is a valuable addition to any basement. Being able to grab a glass of water while watching a movie or a cold brew from the fridge without running upstairs is convenient, let alone the perceived value when selling.

Don’t Forget About Storage

Storage is often an after thought, and often a reason people decide to upsize and move. When finishing the basement, consider fucntional storage solutions such as a large closet in an area that is otherwise not very functional, storage under the stairs, and in the mechanical room.

DO Get Permits

Should you get a permit? Yes. Getting permits comes with a cost, but it’s relatively low. It will slow down the process, but it’s a relatlively short time.  However, it WILL add value to your property.

A finished basement will provide years of enjoyment for your family, potentially keeping you from outgrowing your home, and it will add value to your home. It’s a win-win. However, don’t cut corners. A poorly thoughtout basement, or one lacking quality workmanship will have the exact opposite impact that we’re discussing. People will come in with the notion that they need to gut it. Do it right the first time and you’ll reap the benefits both personally and financially.


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