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Avoid These Basement Remodel Mistakes


Remodeling a finished or unfinished basement is a great way to add value, space, and comfort to your home. Basements are ideal for casual social activities for the whole family, just for the kids, or work or hobby spaces for adults. Whatever your vision for your basement space, take care to avoid these basement remodel mistakes!

Over or Under-Planning

I know it sounds crazy, but did you know you can OVER-plan a remodel? By that we mean you may try to do too much with a space. For example, if you have a large open space you might want to break it up and end with a maze of small rooms. Such a cluster of small rooms can feel confining, so be mindful to keep your basement floor plan as open as possible.  

Even if you’re creating an apartment in the basement, always keep the main living space as spacious as possible. This way you will prevent the space from feeling too cramped or claustrophobic. In a multi-functional space, consider half walls, movable partitions, pocket doors, or sliding barn doors to separate areas. You can also use furniture arrangements to designate specialty uses.

And just as you don’t want to over-plan a space, don’t under-plan either. Think about how you will best use the space. If you’re planning to rent it out as an apartment, make sure it has the necessities: bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. If you’re using it as a guest room, consider an en suite bathroom. Just be sure to think things through BEFORE breaking ground. An experienced basement remodeling company will have designers and contractors on staff to help answer questions and guide you through the planning process. 

Ignoring Moisture

Even in newer homes, moisture is always an issue in basements. If your home is older, it could be an even bigger problem. To avoid this HUGE mistake, you’ll need to take several actions.

First, consider the need for a central drain or a backup sump pump if your location is prone to flooding. Plan for worst-case scenarios and enjoy the benefits of extra protection in case of unexpected water. Always ensure that basement plumbing for a laundry room, bathroom, or wet bar is installed correctly, inspected, and tested. This is not a DIY project, so be sure to use an experienced plumber or remodeling company to tackle this task

Although proper waterproofing and good basement finishing choices can greatly improve conditions in the basement, you still need to consider moisture control. When basement moisture levels rise above 60% mold will start to develop. Even if you don’t see it, if the basement smells musty, mold is most likely present. Basement moisture levels should be closely monitored and a dehumidifier should be used to keep RH levels at or below 55%.

Forgetting Lighting

Lighting is hugely important in making your basement feel bright and welcoming. If your basement has existing windows or light wells on perimeter walls, take advantage of all the natural light you can! Regardless, you should also plan to add sufficient electrical lighting to keep the new space well-lit. Thus, don’t skimp on electrical circuits and plan for three types of room lighting: general illumination, task lights, and accent lighting.

If your basement has low ceilings and it’s not in your budget to raise it, recessed can lighting is an excellent option. Make sure to use the proper IC-rated fixtures that won’t pose a fire hazard. To keep the spaces bright, consider other lighting options in your design plans, such as track lighting, mood lighting, and wall sconces for functional and aesthetic purposes. Always light stairwells and fill in dark areas with table lamps or specialty task lighting.

Choosing the Wrong Materials

Some of the fun of a major basement remodel is choosing all the beautiful finishes. But keep in mind that a basement is different from an above-ground remodel. Thus, you need to think more carefully about the materials you use - both those finishes you see and those that are behind the scenes, so to speak. 

For example, when selecting building materials, avoid anything made from organic matter, as these will be more prone to develop mold if there is moisture. And you can count on there being moisture in a basement at some point! While wooden studs, fiberglass insulation and drywall, and wooden subfloors are all common building materials, they are NOT suited for basements. 

For the same reason, you want to avoid carpet or tile floors. Instead, consider a vinyl locking tile that can be fully removed if it were ever to get wet. You hope to never have to tear it back up, but you’ll be prepared to do so in case of flooding. Tile is usually cemented down and has to be broken up to remove it. Carpeting comes up easily but is also usually destroyed by moisture. 

You also want to choose materials that will provide soundproofing for your basement. Proper insulation will not only help keep the heat in but also help muffle sound transference. You may also consider ceiling sound baffles or specialty soundproofing, depending on how you plan to use your new basement space. It may also be necessary to reroute plumbing lines or air ducts to keep noise to a minimum. 

Keeping the Cave Vibe

When you’re budgeting for your basement remodel you are likely thinking more about your must-haves (like a hobby space with special lighting, or a nice bathroom for guests) and your beautiful finishes. Thus, you may overlook details that can end up spoiling a remodel. You don’t want to spend time and money on a remodel only to find your basement still has a dark, cave-like vibe!

If you have the budget for a serious renovation, consider digging out the basement to increase your ceiling height. An additional 12 inches of height will make the basement feel much more spacious. 

Along the same lines, we cannot stress the importance of lighting to make a basement space seem larger and more welcoming. If you have an opportunity to add natural light, do so!  Lastly, if your basement has visible pipework or a furnace, consider enclosing those in a closet so the space feels more finished and less like a basement. 


If you are ready to update and beautify your home’s basement with a complete remodel, you want to avoid mistakes and get the job done right. And when you use a TrustDALE certified professional, you're always protected by Dale's trademark 

$10,000 Make-It-Right Guarantee

. So start looking for a trusted basement remodeling company in your area today!