Basement Renovations and Mistakes to Avoid

Basements once were the second-class level of a home — a place where some families hung out, but not as a first choice. And home owners rarely spent a lot of money to fix them up. But necessity may be the mother of invention as more home owners have seen the basement as underutilized square footage that can be improved, and for less than adding to an upper level. Given a new, fancier moniker, too, of “the lower level,” these spaces can improve resale.


Basement renovations can offer excellent return on investment. According to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, midrange basement redos, which average almost $63,000, bring a 77.6 percent payback, among the top 10 returns on projects. Yet, nothing’s a slam-dunk. If you're going to renovate your lower level, make sure to steer clear of a few basement obstacles.

Low Ceiling Height

Older home basements were often built with low 7 or 8-foot ceilings, which could make some people feel uncomfortable.  If it's possible to raise the ceiling height, often times it helps welcome people to the lower level.  If raising the height is not an option, brightening it up (white ceiling and walls) helps create the illusion of more verticle space.


Water Damage

Another challenge in basements is water, which should be eliminated before you make any further progress such as planning expensive improvements and shopping for furnishings. Even if a basement doesn’t have standing water, check to see if it’s present in the yard near the home’s foundation walls. We suggest remedies such as a landscaped yard with soil raised near the house, gutters pitched away from the house, downspouts, exterior or interior French drain tiles, a sump pump, and a dehumidifier to eliminate excess moisture.


The Dark Cave

Lower level settings are nice, and often times cozy, but not if they lack ample windows and lighting. Most basement transformations call for additional natural  or artificial light. If it’s not illuminated well, a basement won’t be used.



Awkward Floor Plan

Because of utilities and floor drains, the basement level often presents obstacles to work around that can lead to oddly shaped rooms or layouts. We try not to chop up the lower level excessively, as the homeowners may start to feel claustrophobic, but rather place all mechanicals in one general area, if possible.

Noisy Hub
Design Continuity

When you build with Heffron Homes, we provide interior and exterior design consultation. Our designer assists clients with many selections that go with building a home such as cabinetry selections (featuring mid-level to high end lines); selection of interior and exterior finishes; may consult on design, color selections, and space planning as well as furniture layout, and art / accessory placements.

One school of thought is that furnishings should reflect some continuity in quality and style with the rest of the home. But the basement can also be a place to be more adventuresome. An example may be where a traditional home had a cooler and funkier lower level, so as to resembles a hip lounge.


Too Specific or Over-Improved

While nobody knows the style preferences or interests of a future buyer, transforming a basement into a home office, family room hangout with a big-screen TV, or a visitor suite generally hold wider appeal than a more limited use such as a children's elaborate theater complete with stage, for instance. Also, buyers of a more modest home are unlikely to spend more to gain a fancy media room or well-equipped gym that never was in their budget

Unappealing Descent

If possible, you should also improve the stairwell descent into the basement. Removing a sidewall, offering more head room, and sometimes introducing a turn or curve will improve the journey down,


The bottom line:  Even if you don’t want to fully finish a basement, doing so partly, perhaps for seasonal storage or upgraded laundry facilities, still adds greater value and makes upstairs life more pleasurable.


excerpt from


Heffron Homes, Inc. / T 608.643.8525 / / Copyright © 2020 Heffron Homes, Inc.