Design and Installation Tips for Virginia Basement Fireplaces

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Smart homeowners know that adding Virginia basement fireplaces to their below-grade living space increases property value and boosts comfort. Choosing the ideal fireplace and planning for proper installation are essential steps. Find out the right way to include a fireplace in your basement renovation plans.

The Best Type of Fireplace for the Basement

Although a traditional wood burning hearth creates an undeniable amount of comfort and romance, it isn’t the ideal choice for a basement fireplace. Pre-fabricated fireplaces operate cleanly and require much less space in terms of chimneys and ventilation. Many Virginia homeowners are updating their existing wood burning fireplaces upstairs and down, opting instead for an efficient, safe pre-fabricated model.

Direct vent natural gas fireplaces are the ideal choice for most homes. Not only do these fireplaces install with minimal hassle and expense, but they also create fewer emissions and require very little maintenance. Natural gas costs the same or less than other fuel options, such as wood pellets.

Stay away from vent-free models, as this type of fireplace may release harmful emissions into your home. Direct vent models require only a small amount of interior space for the pipes and present a non-intrusive vent cover outside.

Location, Location, Location

Consider the best location for your Virginia basement fireplace. A well built natural gas fireplace can effectively heat your entire basement, and since heat rises, this appliance also provides warmth to the rooms above. Look for a location that maximizes this situation.

A central spot in the main downstairs living area makes sense. Think about air flow and traffic; you want the heat to spread evenly throughout your living space. Fireplace fans and ceiling fans may also help to avoid pockets of heat in your finished basement, as well as moving the warm air upstairs.

Remember to think about visual impact when considering the location. Fireplaces make wonderful focal points when placed in the right spot, so be careful to avoid tucking your new fireplace into a far-off corner. Two-sided fireplaces allow for double the impact and corner units make good use of a potentially awkward area.

What About Mantles and Built Ins?

Mantles contribute to the overall look of your basement fireplace. Are you hoping for an old world feel? Use fieldstone veneer or slate tiles to mimic a hearth. Want something more contemporary and slick? Consider tempered glass shelving or mount a floating mantle above the fireplace for that clean appearance. Use recycled barn beams to create a rustic look or painted wood mantles for romantic appeal.

Imagination is important, and the web provides countless images of beautiful fireplace mantels that can be easily adapted for use in your finished basement.

Built ins provide storage and also help to finish off this space with style. Talk to your basement renovation contractor about incorporating built in shelving or cabinets around your new fireplace. Many people mount their flatscreen TV over the fireplace as well, with custom made storage units providing plenty of room for audio equipment.

Complete your Virginia basement renovation with the ideal fireplace in the smartest location and finished with a beautiful mantle and built in storage. This addition creates a timeless focal point that warms up the living space.

How to Plan a Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling in Ten Easy Steps

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Are you dreaming of a Northern Virginia basement remodeling project? Read through these ten easy steps and see how straightforward this house renovation project can be.

Inspect the Existing Structure

Check the stability of the existing framing and structure. Use a simple awl to poke at wood ceiling joists, wall studs and sills to discover any pockets of rot or decay. Watch for insect damage as well, and be sure to check sensitive areas such as window wells, any exterior doors and foundation seams. Plan to replace or repair any areas that require attention.

Test for Moisture Issues

Virginia residents can perform a simple moisture test without the help of a contractor. Cut several plastic sheets to about 2 foot by 2 foot square and tape them to various areas on the foundation walls and floor. After ten to fourteen days, inspect the sheets for moisture. If condensation forms under the plastic sheets, you may be dealing with a foundation leak. If condensation forms on the top surface of the plastic sheet, you need to consider adjusting existing humidity levels.

Schedule a Professional Inspection of the HVAC System

Hire a local pro to inspect your heating system and ductwork. A plumbing inspection is also important if your Northern Virginia basement remodeling plans include a bathroom. Budget for any recommended repairs you feel necessary and rest easier knowing that carbon monoxide leaks and other dangerous HVAC issues will not be a problem.

Measure for Ceiling Height

One of the most important initial steps in finishing a basement involves headroom. Check with the county office for local building code requirements, but most specify a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet. Discuss the situation with your Virginia basement renovation contractor to decide between digging out the foundation floor and moving any existing ductwork that limits ceiling height.

Tackle Foundation Cracks and Waterproofing Projects

Homeowners can handle small cracks and minor waterproofing projects, while others require the attention of a professional contractor. Take the time to carefully inspect your foundation and the surrounding grade, keeping an eye out for water problems. You may be able to correct grading with minor excavation, and use hydraulic cement to fill small cracks and chips in the foundation. A basement waterproofing contractor may also recommend installing a membrane or other waterproofing solution before your basement renovation project begins.

Invest in a Second Sump Pump

Homes that include a sump pit require a backup sump pump to avoid basement flooding. If you’re investing thousands of dollars in your finished basement, adding a few hundred dollars for a battery-operated back up sump pump makes sense.

Layout the Space

As in the balance of your home, furniture and room layout make a difference in a finished basement. Consider the natural lighting and place your main gathering area nearby. Be sure any bedrooms on this level have a properly sized window and situate furniture away from the main traffic flow.

Research Industry Innovations to Combat Common Basement Issues

New products come on the market regularly, often addressing common basement issues like mold or mildew. Find out more about these products before investing in them, paying special attention to unbiased consumer ratings and the opinions of industry professionals. Gypsum panels and specially manufactured interior panels are the most popular products to combat mold growth.

Create a Budget and Pad It

Sketch out a preliminary budget for your basement remodeling project. This should include any demolition required, as well as materials and labor cost to renovate. Remember to include furnishings and extraneous costs like permits and inspections. Once you have this initial budget, add ten to fifteen percent for incidentals and costly surprises. Use that padded figure to arrange for financing.

Get Ready for an Adventure!

Every Northern Virginia basement remodeling project is different and homeowners face a myriad of unique challenges. But one thing is for sure—each project is an adventure and adds valuable, comfortable space to your home.

How Water Issues Destroy Your Virginia Basement Renovation Dreams

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Renovating your Virginia basement adds valuable living space and comfort to your home. Water issues can quickly devalue the investment and create various health problems now and far into the future. Homeowners need to assess the condition of their basement and attend to any moisture damage before renovations begin.

What type of things should you look for? And how much will you need to invest in order to get your basement ready for the finishing steps?

Signs of Water Issues

You may already be aware of moisture problems in your lower level. Standing water, excessive condensation, mold or mildew marks and musty odors all point to water issues. But a thorough inspection also involves forgotten areas of the basement, such as:

  • Window Sills – Water often runs around or under decayed or broken window sills, possibly even soaking into the wood. Be sure to check the seals around your windows, as well as the locking mechanisms. Plan to replace any rotted building materials or damaged portions of the window.
  • Pipes and Plumbing – Un-insulated pipes create condensation, which can quickly build up and cause water issues. Have a look at the existing condition of your pipes and note any rust or other signs of moisture. Consider insulating all the pipes during your Virginia basement renovation. Check plumbing fixtures for leaks and wear. Many times you can detect the problem early and avoid a major leak or plumbing issue.
  • Behind Insulation – Is your basement insulated or partially finished? Moisture collects between fiberglass or rigid insulation and concrete foundation walls. Your basement renovation plans should include replacing any wet insulation and putting up the proper moisture protection, such as a vapor barrier.
  • Exterior Grading – Assess the grading around your home to ensure that the ground slopes away from the foundation. Standing water, soggy ground and previous basement flooding indicate a possible grading problem. Hire a landscape company to regrade the property and consider investing in a basement waterproofing system to further protect your living space.
  • Foundation Walls and Floor – Look for cracks or crumbling in the concrete. Even if you do not detect any evidence of water, these gaps allow for the passage of moisture. Use crack filler products and sealers or consider an interior waterproofing system that covers the concrete.

How Much Does It Cost to Protect Your Basement From Water Damage?

Depending on the work required, these steps of preparation may cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousands. Insulating the pipes and replacing a window sill are fairly inexpensive, while you can expect to pay big dollars to install a basement waterproofing system and correct a grading issue. It is important to remember that these repairs and replacements protect your basement renovation investment.

Moisture damage results in significant expenses. It can also change the atmosphere in your basement, making it less comfortable for living. Investing in the repairs mentioned above allows you to realize your Virginia basement renovation dreams. Remember to fully assess the basement before construction begins and attend to any problems right away. The final result is worth the extra effort.

Realizing the Greatest Resale Value in Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Are you planning a Northern Virginia basement remodeling project? Finishing the basement requires a fair bit of investment, both in time and money. Wise homeowners look for features that work well with their tastes and lifestyle, as well as those that realize the greatest resale value over the long term. Get smart and include these valuable features in your basement reno to score big now and make some of your money back later.

Bathrooms

Adding a bathroom in the basement makes sense. All family members can appreciate the convenience, and this room provides extra space for a growing family and privacy for overnight guests. Consider designing at least a three-piece bath in the basement for top resale value dollars. Tuck a corner shower into the space or include a tub-shower combo and this bathroom takes your home to a whole new level.

Remember to have your plumber obtain the proper building permits and design this space with safety and building codes in mind. The last thing you need is a basement flood caused by faulty installation or inaccurate design. Protect your investment today and long into the future by ensuring your new basement bathroom is built well.

Wood Flooring

Many Virginia homeowners assume that wood flooring works best on above grade applications. But modern lines of engineered wood flooring and laminates made to mimic woof floors can brighten a below grade space and add spark to the design.

Research the best types of wood flooring for your Northern Virginia basement remodeling budget. Have a professional install the planks as a floating floor, a process which requires no nails or glue. Click lock flooring makes installation easy and floating the underlayment and planks allows for installation on the concrete foundation floor. Capture the warmth of wood floors and realize greater value from your basement renovation.

Insulation

Adding insulation to the basement walls pays off in many different ways. The right amount of insulation helps to lower your heating and cooling bills, and investing in insulation creates a more comfortable atmosphere in the basement living space.

Talk to your basement contractor about the ideal type of insulation for your house. Fiberglass batting is the most commonly used, but rigid insulation panels may also be used in certain homes. Blown-in products add insulation to your attic, but this type doesn’t often work in basement applications.

Insulation doesn’t create an immediate impression or provide an attractive viewpoint, but including insulating products improves the entire space and makes it more appealing to your family and potential buyers.

Gas Fireplace

Add some style and drama to your basement with a gas fireplace. Opt for a built-in corner unit or install a double- or triple-sided model to form a wall between two areas of your basement space. Gas fireplaces don’t cost a fortune and they can transform a space from blah to spectacular in no time.

Be sure to have a professional gas fitter run the plumbing for this unit and think about including several switches or remote controls into your basement space for convenience.

Installing a bathroom, wood flooring, insulation and gas fireplace in your home helps to enhance the living space. Whether you realize the gains now or not, adding these features to your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project helps to enhance resale value.