The basement is probably the most underrated area in the house, but if it's refinished it will be like adding another room, or even another floor altogether. There is a lot of different choices as far as the aesthetic layout, but it's been quite popular to add home theaters or wet bars; something that doesn't seem so basement-ish.
The following material will be some advice on some preliminary start up points to get going on a basement project. Also, some basement ideas will be tossed around a bit to get your creative juices flowing.
First, Questioning the Contractor
Before you start perusing through your local yellow pages looking for someone to contract your basement remodeling job, you will want to have some foresight so you don't pick one that you will regret. Just like finding a mechanic, it can be worrisome as you think that you are running crapshoot with who you choose to hire.
Scour the neighborhood or scan your rolodex. A friend or family will know someone who did some home construction work in the past, whether it was a room extension or a hardwood floor install, there should be praise of some group's handiwork. If you canvass the area you can get someone who can refer you to a proper contractor.
In addition to word of mouth, going online to visit your state licensing site is a good tool to help screen your choices. For instance, if you were looking for a Salt Lake City remodeling contractor you would go to Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and run a search.
You can find some reference to those who are licensed, or if you have picked up some names, you can cross check them with the board's list. Keep in mind, however, that being listed on the board only means that they've at least met minimum requirements. Getting a good verbal reference still holds a little more stock in making the final decision.
Once you get to the screening portion of your conversations with the contractor, it's important to know what you will be getting into as far as cost and quality of work. Some important points to consider when forming your questions are:
- The hourly rates charged
- Rates for any part of the project that is not exactly related to the job at hand, like if you have to do some plumbing work
- If there are parts ordered, will the hourly rates be in effect still while you all wait
- What sort of insurance does the contractor have and are they bondable
- If money is one of the biggest issues, ask if there are better rates during the season
Some Basement Designs
Out of all the design ideas you may have in your mind, think warmth first and foremost. This is the leading reason why people avoid the basement -- it's cold and dark making it uncomfortable. So when you formulate the design, try to think about lighting the downstairs with maybe some windows and a heat source.
A fireplace or heated floors are some examples of a heat source. Also if you cannot make windows, or they are out of your budget, try looking into some good artificial lighting with natural color spectrum.
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