Top Design Tips for Renovating Your Northern Virginia Basement

November 27, 2017

Fall is the perfect time to renovate your basement. While you are busy on the main floor prepping for the holiday season, your contractor can be working away from the busy areas of your home. 

If you have an unfinished basement, a basement that needs more organization, or are just looking for a complete re-haul of your basement design, check out our top design tips to ensure a smooth remodeling process! 


1. Think About the Exits

Building codes require safe exit routes in case of an emergency, particularly in bedroom areas. A common requirement is that an opening window must be big enough to climb out of, and close enough to the ground to reach. This sometimes means cutting down the foundation and building a window well.

The windows in this finished basement not only let in loads of light, but they also provide an easy-to-access escape route in case of emergency. Check with your local building department about your home’s requirements.

Image via Dyna Contracting



2. Keep Water Out

A qualified contractor will know to check your existing sump pump. If it is not in good working order, replace it! Water is the biggest foe to your new basement renovation, so ensuring you are protected from Mother Nature is especially important. Once the rains come during the Spring season, a strong foundation and sump pump will be well worth the investment. 


Image via Bob Vila



3. Ceiling Height & Ductwork

A lot of homes have their HVAC and furnace located in the basement. This means that all of the ductwork and piping will be in the ceiling above the basement living space. If the basement was left unfinished when the house was built, more often than not attention will have to be paid to allowing for adequate head room in the living space. 

If the basement was finished at the time the house was built, or was previously remodeled, it's a good idea to check with a qualified contractor to make sure the new layout of your basement doesn't require taking down load bearing walls. In some homes the HVAC system is against an exterior wall in a utility closet, while in others- the HVAC is located directly in the center of the house. This type of system can be challenging when trying to create an open floor plan in your basement. 


Image via Pinterest


4. Insulation

Do not skimp on the insulation when it comes to your new basement remodel. Most basements are used year round, so making sure your basement is properly insulated is crucial to the overall comfort of the space. The ideal time to add new insulation is when new walls are being framed, before the drywall has been installed. If you are trying to insulate the entire basement, but there are walls not being touched by the renovation process, your contractor will still be able to add the insulation. There just may be some drywall patch and paint touch ups to be done. 



Image via KC Sprayfoam

5. Noise Reduction

Your newly finished basement has the potential to affect the rest of your house with noise, particularly if you create a media or play room. Installing sound insulation into the basement ceiling can help, especially because without a sound break, sound travels through the wood right into the drywall. 

If the extra cost of sound insulation is beyond your budget, one other suggestion would be to have wall mounted lighting instead of recessed lights, otherwise known as can lighting. The reason is that recessed lighting cannot have insulation around it for safety reasons, therefore basements with recessed lighting often transmit much more noise than a basement with a closed ceiling. 


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Image via Madison Taylor

6. Looking Ahead

Don’t finish your basement without thinking about future projects. Because the basement is the heart of most homes’ mechanical systems, you likely will need to get back in there to do any major work on your main floor, or for an addition. 

Also, if it's not in your budget to add a bathroom to your basement now, consider having your contractor add the rough-in for a bathroom to be installed down the road. It's a good idea to make room for this type of improvement while all of the walls are open in your basement and before the flooring has been laid down, that way when it comes time to actually add the bathroom the pipes and sewer lines are already there. 


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Image via LEIVARS

If you live in the Northern Virginia area and you’re interested in a free estimate, or would like to know how Lensis Builders, Inc. can make your home even better, give us a call at 703-367-8999 or fill out a short contact form. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next project, visit our Pinterest page.