Top Tips of Enlarging Virginia Basement Windows

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Creating an egress window in your Virginia basement not only increases property value, it also adds natural light and enhances below-grade living space. However, enlarging a basement window requires careful planning and the skills of an experienced contractor. Find out how this project plays out and understand the value and work involved.

Foundation Concerns

Basement windows are cut into your foundation. The structural stability of the concrete walls has been calculated using the existing window sizes. Enlarging those gaps requires a recalculation to ensure overall building stability.

Think of it this way—your first floor, second floor, and possibly even the roof transfer load down to the foundation. Removing a portion of the wall decreases the amount of concrete available to handle that load.

Additional support can be added in many cases, and window location plays a major role. Your Virginia basement contractor will inspect the area, assess the work required and complete any necessary calculations. A building permit application ensures that all work complies with local building code.

Drainage Concerns

Stability of the building is the first major factor to consider when enlarging basement windows, but drainage remains a concern. In most Virginia homes, a larger window extends down the wall—this type of project requires excavation.

Your contractor needs to dig down below the new window to provide proper drainage. A traditional window well or retaining wall blocks form the barrier of a deeper well to carry water away from your window opening. This well also requires drainage, most often a French drain or drainage piping does the job.

Window Concerns

When replacing your existing window with a larger design, consider upgrading the glass and/or the style to provide better efficiency. Heat loss through windows contributes to higher energy bills and often makes your basement living space feel cool. Now is the time to install windows with cutting edge design.

Is your home currently fitted with hopper windows in the basement? This simple style may be single or double paned and opens inward with a hinged bottom. Slider windows offer less air flow, but most often come with a more solid design and higher levels of security.

Awning windows come with the highest price tag, but can be used in rain or snow. They open from the bottom out, with a hinged top. Although awnings windows are practical and good for security purposes, they come in limited styles and sizes. Opt for a sliding style to take advantage of a good quality egress window.

Look for windows with the NFRC certification sticker. This provides proof that the manufacturer complies with NFRC standards and window performance meets minimal levels. Additional ratings provide you with more specific information about how that particular window performs in the Virginia climate.

Enlarging windows in your Virginia basement adds natural light and visually expands your living space downstairs. An egress windows also allows for a more flexible design in the basement, including the addition of bedrooms and other features. Talk to an experienced Virginia basement contractor about how to handle this project affordably and efficiently, and enjoy the difference a larger window makes.

Top Four Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Challenges to Conquer

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Wise investors gaze into the future and assess bumps and bends in the road. Your home improvement investment should be no different, and understanding the top four Northern Virginia basement remodeling challenges allows you to prepare for reality and navigate the renovation process well.

Get ready to tackle this home reno and come out with a fabulous, comfortable and valuable basement living space.

Challenge # 1 – Lighting

The proper lighting ensures your below grade living space is welcoming and functional. But the structural design of a basement often limits the location of your preferred light fixtures and may dictate the size and type of fixture.

Recessed lighting provides good coverage without eating up valuable space at the ceiling. Wall sconces reflect light up a smooth wall and into the room, and many fixtures appear almost flush to the wall, making them ideal for hallways and stairways.

New and larger windows help to enhance natural light in this area. Talk to your Virginia basement renovation contractor about the possibility of adding windows or enlarging the existing window frames.

Choose bulbs and fixtures that deliver excellent coverage with minimal fuss. This is not the place for a showpiece or chandelier. Focus on durable, low profile lighting fitted with long lasting bulbs. Add a floor lamp or table lamp for visual interest and pizzazz, if you feel the space needs it.

Challenge # 2 – Air Quality

Moisture and mold cause serious problems in the basement and lower the air quality in your entire home, which in turn affects the health of your family. Take care of any moisture issues before the Northern Virginia basement remodeling project starts.

Have your home assessed for mold and inspect the property both inside and out for moisture problems. Repairs and waterproofing solutions may push the cost of your home improvement project higher, but you do not want to deal with water damage in your brand new basement living space. Be proactive and take care of moisture problems beforehand.

Ventilation is another important issue in your basement remodel. Talk to a heating and cooling expert about how to ensure adequate air flow throughout each season. Both your heating and cooling systems should include the basement, although some people opt for alternative heating solutions such as a gas fireplace or wood stove to keep the basement cozy in winter. Consider all of the possibilities and assess how each one affects the overall air quality in your space.

Challenge # 3 – Energy Efficiency

Adding living space in the basement will increase your electrical and utility bills, mainly due to the additional lighting, outlets, and area. But you can ensure these costs are limited and create a more energy efficient home by taking some things into consideration during the planning stages.

Insulate the basement against heat loss. Ask your contractor about the different types of insulation available, and consider the structural elements of your space when deciding which to use. Blow-in products make sense for attic spaces, but may be a messy solution for the basement. Some pre-manufactured basement panels include insulation that reaches the required R-value for residential living spaces. Find out about all of your options and choose the type that provides optimum efficiency and reliability. It will provide a better payback than the option with the lowest initial price tag.

Challenge # 4 – Security

Your basement renovation design may add another entrance point into your home. Installing expensive entertainment systems and computer equipment in the basement also presents a temptation for burglars. Ensure your home remains secure by investing in good quality window treatments to keep your valuables out of casual viewing.

Install commercial grade locks on any patio doors or entrance doors and consider putting wood blocks in the windows for added security. Treat your basement as a part of your home and take the necessary precautions to maintain security.

Prepare to deal with many challenges while planning your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project. Cover all the details and depend on the expert advice of your Virginia contractor to ensure your new living space turns out well.

Five Tips on Building a Bar in Your Virginia Basement

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Your Virginia basement living space will play host to countless gatherings and also offers a private space to relax. Perfect for both families and couples, building a bar in your basement renovation provides a focal point for these events. But what kind of bar designs work for this area of your home, and how can you fit this element into your overall floor plan?

Tip # 1 – Factor in Your Surrounding

Consider the feel of your new basement living space and estimate the space available for a custom bar. These two elements of your basement renovation have the greatest influence on bar design. For instance, you don’t want to install a traditional bar with dark stained wood in a bright, modern basement living space. Also, a tiny corner bar may get lost in a vast space and a large home bar design could become overwhelming in a smaller area.

Tip # 2 – Choose a Good Spot

Location remains an important aspect to consider. Home bars often include plumbing, and placing your new bar near the bathroom or laundry allows for efficient plumbing design. Your contractor needs to include a water supply and drain, as well as a water line to your fridge, if applicable.

Think about where your family and friends will gather, and place the bar accordingly. You don’t need to stick the bar in a far off corner either—why not place it in the middle of your room and leave space for the crowd on both sides? Get creative and have fun with location.

Tip # 3 – Light It Up

Lighting plays an important role in any living space, but the proper lighting design can make or break your home bar. Remember to illuminate the area with fixtures designed for functionality (mixing drinks can be hard work) and mood. Nothing too bright, but ensure the bulbs provide enough coverage for the prep and seating areas.

Choose lighting that accents the shape of your home bar and complements the balance of your Virginia basement. This may be the ideal place for a bold, stand-out fixture, or perhaps you’ll choose lighting that blends in well and let your bar be the star. Work with the feel and décor of the room, but remember to invest in functional, top quality lighting.

Tip # 4 – Pay Attention to Your Feet

Flooring around a home bar should be durable, comfortable and easily cleaned. Spills happen, and you’ll be tired of washing the carpet within a short period of time. Popular options for flooring in this area include:

  • Tiling – ceramic, porcelain or natural stone work well
  • Engineered Wood – good quality products designed for below-grade installation create a beautiful setting for your bar
  • Laminate – be sure to look for attractive patterns with this inexpensive option

Tip # 5 – Include Plenty of Storage

Allow for a fully stocked bar by including storage in a big way. Wall cabinets and under-counter drawers and cabinetry provide closed storage for many different items, while open shelving above or behind the bar offers a good space for bottles and other attractive bar items. Think about other creative ways you can create storage designed for your style and stock.

A well designed home bar completes your Virginia basement renovation. Think about the size and shape, location, lighting, flooring and storage options to ensure your custom bar suits your lifestyle.

How to Save Money on Your Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Finishing the basement provides extra living space and an organized, convenient area for storage. But you’ll want to tackle your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project in the right way, with quality materials and sensible design. How can you save money on a basement renovation and still enhance lifestyle and property value?

Good Planning Reduces Mistakes

No doubt about it—mistakes cost money. Errors or accidents often require replacement materials or extend the renovation schedule, adding to overall labor costs. Sometimes mistakes show up after the remodel is complete, while others arise during construction. No matter when the homeowner or contractor becomes aware of them, mistakes push the budget higher.

Plan your basement remodeling project well to avoid these errors. A detailed sketch of the framing, electrical and mechanical features allows for efficiency and accuracy during installation. Access to local building codes also cuts down on errors and omissions in that area. Even the simple rule of “measure twice, cut once” helps to reduce the risk of wasted materials and wasted time.

Work at the plan before construction starts, and keep the plan updated during your project. Changes and alterations happen, but smart homeowners alter the plan and trace how far those changes spread to help avoid problems later on.

The Affordability of Drywall

Some people assume that drywall costs more than other wall-finishing options. You’ll need to budget for framing behind the drywall sheets, as well as mudding, primer and paint to properly finish the walls. But this basement renovation package is often cheaper than other alternatives.

In past decades, wood paneling was used for cheap Northern Virginia basement remodeling. Modern quality wood paneling has gone up in price and you’ll still need to budget for framing and possibly insulation.

Quality drywall runs at $4 to $8 per sheet. The cost for drywall mud and painting supplies adds to that figure, and installation rates drive it even higher. But attractive wood paneling comes in at $15 to $20 per sheet and higher.

Drywall also creates a more comfortable, livable area downstairs. Decorating is easy and using this building material often helps to increase property value, as the basement is considered valuable living space.

Use drywall on the ceiling to cut costs. You’ll need to plan the electrical and mechanical design well and provide access for repairs. Drop ceilings allow for simpler access, but cost double the price of drywall ceilings. Plan and compare to discover how affordable drywall can be when finishing the basement.

Remember the Value of Light Fixtures

Lighting is vital in the basement. Quality lighting provides illumination and creates a more inviting, open space in the lower floors. Remember to allow for adequate lighting and opt for fixtures that blend into the ceiling and walls.

This is not the place for expensive, trendy lighting. Look for simple builder’s grade styles that provide decent coverage at a good value. It’s important to include enough lights, or else this space feels cramped and gloomy. And adding a few lights and mirrors in strategic places costs much less than adding a new window.

DIY may seem like a smart way to save money on your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project. But unless you have the skills and experience to make this space comfortable, safe and inviting, it makes sense to hire an experienced contractor. They will provide ways to shave the budget without sacrificing the quality your family deserves.