Can You Build a Basement in Your Backyard
Basements are now quintessential parts of the home. Gone are the days where everyone thought of the basement as cold, dark, and even dirty. Nowadays, many homes in the Eastern part of the United States have basements that are luxurious and can be used for various reasons. From creating a den, a playroom, a karaoke room, or even adding an extra bedroom, there are many ways to improve the look of your basement through some simple remodeling.
Unfortunately, if your basement is older and is wet, dark, and looks like a concrete tomb, you will need to do some serious upgrades and renovations before it is safe to use the space. To make the most of your basement, consider upgrading it through renovations and by extending the length! You can make your basement bigger by growing it into your yard. This can only be done with the help of professional engineers and landscapers. It also takes a lot of preparation beforehand. Below are several tips for you to use if you’re considering building a basement under your backyard.
1. Research Local Building Codes
Before you even begin to consider redoing your basement or expanding your basement into your yard, it’s best to research local building codes for any permits or information for your project. You can’t simply dig up your yard, especially if you live in a communal area where this construction can bother your neighbors. It might also be physically impossible to expand your basement. For instance, if you live in a townhome, you most likely won’t have a yard to expand your basement in, and you won’t be able to expand into your neighbor’s homes! It’s best to visit your local county or city department for advice and follow all building codes they set forth.
2. Shop Around For Quotes
Once you are confident that you can expand your yard, get permission to do so from your local housing authority and the city, then you can go ahead and start shopping around for different contractors. It’s essential to shop for a team that has a landscaper, engineer, and general contractors onboard. Not all basement remodeling companies specialize in expanding your basement. Some might only specialize in remodeling existing spaces. Make sure to call and ask ahead of time if they can provide the appropriate service to dig up your yard and expand your basement.
3. Look At Reviews
Once you’ve found a company that can offer both general contracting and engineering expertise, look at their reviews online. Some great places to look at reviews include Yelp and Google. Some things to look for are the project’s cost, whether customers are satisfied with their work, and if customers are now facing other problems after the completion of a project. If customers are continually reporting that there were problems after their basement expansion was completed, complain that the project went over budget or any other reasons, it’s best to look for another company with better reviews.
4. Consider An Above-Ground Den
Having an expanded basement can add incredible value to your home. However, so can have an additional accessory dwelling unit on your property. An ADU can also serve as an extra living space for guests, entertaining, or even as a separate office space. There are even creative ways to add an ADU to your property, such as using an old shipping container for your project. If your property is large enough and you’re not willing to dig up your backyard to expand your basement, consider an above-ground den such as an ADU. These can be beautiful when done correctly and they can also add functionality (not to mention personality) to your home.
5. Be Financially Ready
If you’re looking to expand your basement, keep in mind that this might be a costly endeavor. From getting the proper building permits to hiring contractors, installing new windows and doors, and redoing the insulation and walls of your basement, it can be expensive to expand your basement or crawlspace. The average cost to expand the basement would be between $20,000 to $70,000. However, keep in mind this is a great investment that can add value to your home if you decide to sell it. Many homebuyers are always looking for a home that offers extra square footage. Adding a beautiful addition to the basement can make your home more desirable and easier to sell.
6. Make Preparations To Move
During the basement remodeling process, the engineers and developers will have to dig up your backyard with heavy equipment. This can take up space and will impact your day-to-day life at home in some way, shape, or form. If you work from home and aren’t willing to stay at home during the building process, consider making arrangements to stay somewhere else during the basement remodeling. Whether that’s with another family member or at a hotel, be prepared to have your life disrupted a bit while the renovation process occurs.
7. Start With The Outside
It’s important that the engineers working on your home start digging and preparing your basement from outside the home. Chances are, your company will have experience and will start automatically digging up your garden and landscaping from the outside of your home. Unfortunately, some people might think it’s easy to expand their basement and start digging from within their cellar. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to your garden collapsing and damaging your home. Stick with help from professional excavation services, and trust that they know the proper process for digging up your yard and expanding your basement.
8. Prepare For Water
Your basement can be prone to flooding, moisture, mildew, and mold buildup. Although these can be problems that can be addressed as part of regular home improvement projects, these situations can be dire if you’re using your basement as a living area. Your basement expanding contractors will prepare your basement to withstand water and protect it from flooding. This includes waterproofing and damp proofing your basement during the build. They will seal any cracks, openings and apply waterproof coatings to your basement to prepare it for the winter months.
9. Add Adequate Ventilation
The basement can become stuffy and humid, and this can be bad for your health. If you have seasonal allergies and are sensitive to dry conditions, make sure you prioritize adding ventilation to your basement. This will help remove excess moisture and ensure your basement feels comfortable. Adding an exhaust fan, dehumidifiers, and floor fans are all excellent ways to keep your basement adequately ventilated.
10. Add Lighting
It’s not enough to have that old lightbulb in your basement. You’ll want to install adequate lighting to make your basement a livable space. A simple solution would be to add string lights and portable floor lamps. However, you can also ask your basement remodeling services to add lighting through pendant lighting or LED lighting, and more! Make sure your lighting coincides with your style and adds warmth to your basement. You don’t want to install, for example, fluorescent lights if you’re looking to make your basement into a man-cave or den.
11. Consider Windows
Window installation can be a great idea, as windows can let in the fresh air and natural light into your basement. This can make your basement feel less damp and crowded and help get rid of feelings of claustrophobia. If you want to add windows, make sure you let your basement renovators know ahead of time. This will allow them to make the proper plans to ensure the garden outside of your basement isn’t covering any window openings.
12. Add Lots Of Insulation
Now that you’ll be using your basement as a living space, it’s essential to add insulation to your walls. Your basement can be freezing and uncomfortable to spend time in without adequate insulation. Unfortunately, not all basements have insulation already installed, especially if it was once a smaller area you are now expanding. Make sure to add insulation with the appropriate R-Value for your living area. The higher the R-Value of your insulation, the greater the insulation will be and the warmer your basement. Some types of insulation you can add to your basement walls include spray foam insulation, fiberglass, and extra wall paneling. You can also hire tree services to trim any branches that can block off natural light coming into your basement, which can lead to colder temperatures.
13. Hide Any Cables And Wiring
Speaking of paneling, adding paneling to your basement can be a great way to get rid of any cables and wiring that might have surfaced during the expansion of your basement. Most home builders and contractors didn’t prepare the basement for the possibility of expansion. If your basement has been expanded, there will more than likely be wiring and cables such as plumbing and electrical lines. Consider hiding these during your home remodel, either by adding extra wall paneling, running them along the length of your walls, or using zip ties and hiding them using furniture.
14. Make The Walls Warm
Once you get towards the end of your basement expansion, it’s time to start thinking about what colors and style you want to add to your basement. Unlike other rooms in the house, basements have a reputation for being cold and dark. To offset this, consider adding warm colors to your basement walls. These include red, mahogany, yellow, or beige. You can also opt for a stark black; however, make sure there is enough lighting not to make your basement look spooky!
15. Finish The Floors
From adding hardwood, vinyl, or polished concrete, there are lots of ways you can finish the floors of your basement and add value to your home. Many new home buyers don’t want carpets in any living areas. Keep this in mind when finishing the floors of your basement. It’s also important to keep in mind that the basement is subject to temperature fluctuations, leading to natural wood expanding and creaking. Ask your building contractor for the best flooring options.
16. Redo Your Yard
It’s important to focus on your yard after your basement expansion. Now that your yard is dug up consider searching for an ‘ arborist near me‘ to help you plant new trees and plants in your garden. This is the perfect chance for you to install new plants and completely redo the look of your old backyard. You can also update your landscaping by making it more modern and adding drought-resistant plants.
17. Add Extra Security
Unfortunately, one of the most common ways burglars break into homes is through the basement. It’s essential to add extra security and ensure your property, including your basement, is protected against vandalism and theft. Hiring a fencing installer, installing a new security system, and making sure all your basement windows lock properly are all excellent ways to secure your property.
18. Inspect Your Basement Regularly
Your basement will need to be inspected regularly for signs of mold, mildew, leaks, and anything else. Now that you’re using your basement as a living area, it’s important not to ignore any signs of damage. If you notice new cracks in the walls, strange noises, or leaks, contact your contractors right away for help.
19. Add New Furniture
Turning your basement into a cool, new living area requires the help of some beautiful furniture. Consider adding a pool table, a bar area, some comfortable couches, even a bedroom set if you’re using the basement as a guest room.
Remodeling your basement by expanding it is an excellent way to add value to your home. Make the den of your dreams by reaching out to engineers and basement expansion services! Make sure to do your research ahead of time and get all the proper building permits, and most of all, enjoy your new space!