Is your basement currently full of storage boxes and unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings? Your basement may be a sight for sore eyes and not a spot in the house where people often congregate. That project you’ve been planning for years to finish keeps getting pushed off until later. Well, here are some tips to get you moving onto the first stage of the journey and turning your unattractive, dark, cold basement into an inviting living space.

Where to Start

Firstly, make sure everything is dry before you start in on any remodeling. Moisture and water in your basement can cause extensive damage, such as mold and rot, so must be dealt with completely at the very beginning. Check not only your basement, but also the outside of your home around the base perimeter for moisture. Also look at the ground and determine if it slopes down away from the foundation of your home or not. Are your downspouts clogged? This could be another issue, causing moisture buildup. Have a professional contractor inspect your basement and home for leaks, seeps, and humidity problems. Solutions may include repositioning downspouts, fixing plumbing leakage, sealing cracks, or installing a dehumidifier.

Adhere to the Code

It is very important to work with a professional and experienced contractor who is familiar with local building codes. Find out if you need to get a permit for renovation. Have the inspector make sure all electrical work is done to code. Many codes require seven to seven and a half feet of space from the basement floor to the ceiling. Talk to your contractor to determine the best solution if your ceiling height doesn’t meet these specifications. Other things you may need to install based on the inspector’s report include CO detectors, GFI receptacles, egress windows, or additional ventilation.


It’s very important to create a game plan on how you are going to lay out the basement. Where are you going to place walls? Don’t plan to put up too many walls, especially if your basement is small. It will make the space seemed crammed and segregated. Consider putting in half-wall dividers instead. Take into consideration where you will be spending most of the time in your new living space and also what particularly you want to use this space for. Do you need it for an exercise area, a playroom for the kids, movie theater, storage area, or bedroom? If you’re planning on adding a bedroom, it needs to be somewhere around the outer edge of the basement so that you can install an egress window along with it.

Lighting Considerations

Think carefully about what type of lighting you want and need in your basement. For the common area where people will be spending the most time, try to pick the space with the most natural lighting or a large open area where you can add additional light fixtures. If you want to add a television area to watch movies and play video games, you may want it darker to lessen glares on the screen. Overall, if your basement is too dark, it will be uninviting and underused. On the contrary, if it’s too bright, it may seem stark and uncomfortable. Generally, you’ll need more lighting fixtures than you do upstairs because there is less natural lighting. A good option for basements is recessed lighting. These lights are installed into the ceiling and don’t hang down into the space. These allow for even illumination. Another good alternative is perimeter lighting, which can give off a natural feel, making the area seem more spacious.

Furnace Area

You can save money by choosing not to finish the boiler room area. Certain clearance measures must be maintained between the furnace and surrounding walls. Codes often state that there needs to be at least two to three feet of free space on every side surrounding the unit. Consult a professional contractor to assure proper safety measures are taken.

Contact Cyclone Contracting in Ames, IA for basement remodeling projects, maintenance needs, or professional inspections. We have been specializing in home remodeling projects since 1996 and have built a reputation for outstanding customer service, craftsmanship, and trustworthiness.