The lower level can be the most versatile area of a house when it comes to remodeling.
“We love our neighborhood and the schools, but the house does not fit our growing family!”
How many times have you met with homeowners who share this sentiment? Buying and selling a home involves a lot of costs, from realtor fees and moving companies, to making the new home their own. When we are called in to advise a homeowner on the value of staying or going, we know our role is to help them see the potential of their current home. Often, the most economical choice is to remodel underutilized space.
Here in the Midwest, lower levels (or basements) in particular offer many opportunities for new space. In our discussions with homeowners, we ask them to consider the following factors:
1. Purpose of the additional space
It’s the old adage, form follows function. We find that many homeowners want their lower levels to fulfill many needs. Our first goal is to help them imagine how they will actually use the space. Are they in need of an extra bedroom or office? Do they want a full or half bathroom? If they are looking to create a family hang out, what kinds of activities would they like to do there? Many homeowners throw out the term “man cave,” but what image does that conjure up for them? Is there a need for a dedicated exercise/hobby area or can that be incorporated into a main gathering space? By guiding the homeowners through their lists of needs and wants, we clarify their priorities for the new space.
2. Materials and design
Basement remodeling offers opportunities for a plethora of designs, particularly if they are unfinished. Some homeowners view the area as a kids-only space that does not need to adhere to the design of the rest of the home. In this case, lower-end materials and a basic layout may be what they have in mind. On the other hand, some homeowners view the lower level as an extension of the rest of the home, and are looking to match that look and quality. There are other factors that affect design and materials considerations as well. It may be necessary to incorporate aging-in-place best practices for visitors or family members with mobility issues. Designs appropriate for small children may not suit the needs of teens. Finally, some materials, like hardwood flooring, work well in upper levels, but may not be the best solution for the environment in a basement. Helping the homeowner envision the look of their new space will help them decide if staying put will work for them.
In many ways, the first two factors help determine this last one. By combining the priorities with the design, it is easier for homeowners to see how their choices affect their budget. Also, we suggest that the homeowners add up the costs of moving, and then weigh those costs against the remodeling budget. Finally, we advise our clients to consider the other homes in their neighborhood, making sure they are spending within a reasonable valuation.
Moving is one of the most stressful happenings in a person’s life. In the end, if you can help your clients realize the potential of their current space, you could be saving them a great deal more than money. PR
Larry Greene, the owner and president of CASE Design/Remodeling Indy, spent 17 years in the Civil Engineering world focused on construction and business management before starting CaseIndy in 2003. With a staff of 38, including 12 designers and 15 carpenters, CASE Design/Remodeling Indy has grown into the largest design/build remodeling company in the Greater Indianapolis area.