Handling the Challenges of a Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Creating the room of your dreams can be challenging downstairs. While a Northern Virginia basement remodeling project adds valuable living space, privacy and extra storage, you may need to overcome a few headaches first. Consider these common problems Virginia homeowners face when finishing a basement.

Is Your Plumbing Set Up for a Basement Bathroom?

Many people want a bathroom installed on the basement level, providing an extra shower or finishing off the guest room area. But your plumbing system may not be set up for this addition, and planning to add a basement bathroom will take a bit more work.

Ask your contractor or builder about the main drain pipe for your home. Depending on grading and other issues, this drain may run below-grade or above-grade. Pipes that run below-grade allow for the connection of an additional bathroom on the basement level. Those running above-grade do not, although a basement bathroom equipped with special plumbing fixtures will work just fine.

If the drain pipe is a problem, budget for a grinder and pump in the plumbing. This equipment allows for a toilet and shower in the basement, but requires extra space behind the wall.

Are the Windows Large Enough to Cast Natural Light and Meet Building Code?

Many Northern Virginia homes have small windows in the basement level. Although those on a walkout lot have patio doors or taller windows, others make do with shallow frames that let in minimum light. Local building codes and insurance requirements may also present a problem with smaller windows, especially if you plan to include bedrooms in the floor plan.

Install larger egress windows to solve this problem, but remember to design them well for longevity and maintenance. Window wells require a drain at the bottom to direct water away from your home and reduce the risk of basement flooding. High quality windows will also keep your energy bills down and security measures may be required if you’re worried about burglary.

Talk to your contractor about the best location for these larger windows, and design your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project to take advantage of window placement.

How Will You Treat the Ceiling in Your Finished Basement?

Drywall ceilings look attractive in a finished basement, but they can be a hassle when water problems arise and repairs create a massive mess in the basement living space. Drop ceilings are a good solution, although many Northern Virginia homeowners find the look less appealing. How can you find a happy medium between the beauty of drywall ceilings and the practicality of drop ceilings?

Have a look at some of the unique building materials available for basement ceilings, including acoustical ceiling tiles and textured or oddly shaped tiles that provide the convenience of a drop ceiling without the industrial look. Some homeowners even opt to paint out the basement ceiling with a bright white paint, allowing full access while creating a uniform color. This works especially well for casual
spaces like a games room or play room.

Consider the location of duct work and plumbing in the basement ceiling. Can you effectively group these mechanical systems to minimize access points? Bulkheads must be installed to go around larger pipes, often cutting off natural light and lowering the ceiling height. Grouping the ductwork should minimize that issue as well.

The best way to handle the challenges of a Northern Virginia basement remodeling project is by enlisting the help of a professional contractor. They will have the expertise and skills to get past issues like plumbing, windows and ceiling design, as well as any other challenges that come your way. Trust their experience and utilize their talents to create an incredible living space downstairs.

Tips on Insulating in Your Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Insulation plays an important role in your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project, creating a cozy and comfortable living space downstairs. But this component needs to be done right, with the proper materials installed in the correct way. Make sure your basement contractor follows these tips on insulating to get the most from your below-grade living area.

Repair Any Leaks

Be sure to have all leaks repaired and any excess water cleaned up before insulating the basement. Have a close look around the base of your walls and windows for any moisture. Caulking around wooden or plastic frames and applying concrete repair kits will help make this job quick and effective.

Inspect the Existing Wall

The steps to insulation depend on the make up of the existing wall. Rigid foam insulation is used in basements with cinder block walls, whereas fiberglass insulation can be installed between 2x4s on a standard studded wall. Vapor barrier is used in both cases, but the construction of the existing wall dictates which type of insulation to use.

Will you be hanging drywall in your finished basement? Your contractor must use furring strips or studs to hang that drywall, and insulation must be fitted behind the strips or between the studs. The idea is that insulation is installed close to the building envelope, with drywall acting as the inside layer.

Role of Vapor Barrier

This thick plastic sheet hangs between the insulation and outer wall, which tends to be either cinder block or concrete. Most foundation walls are porous, and the vapor barrier keeps excess moisture and condensation away from the insulation.

Without this important component in your basement remodeling project your insulation can become soggy and subject to mold and mildew. Although the plastic will not block heat, it does act as a preliminary barrier and is taped at the seams to create a solid obstruction for moisture.

Between the Joists

Insulating the walls of your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project is necessary, but you must also cover the space between the main floor joists in order to complete the task. It helps to do this portion before installing the main insulation—either just before or just after the vapor barrier goes up.

Fiberglass insulation tends to work best, as it can be cut to fit and slides easily into place. Remember not to compress the product, as insulation loses value when compressed.

Ceiling Insulation

Installing insulation in the ceiling cuts down on sound, as well as adding warmth to this space. Check out the different types of ceiling insulation, including products that work with drywall ceilings or drop ceilings.

Also consider insulating the pipes in your basement, improving the efficiency of your hot water system. Little things like this will come together to make your finished basement a more integral part of your home, enhancing your lifestyle.

Your contractor will invest a decent amount of time insulating the basement. Be sure that each step is well taken care of during your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project and you can expect a more comfortable, livable space downstairs.

How to Add Storage in your Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Designing your new basement presents plenty of opportunities for expanding storage. From specially designed closets to built in shelving and off-season storage, your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project can improve your living space and bring order to chaos.

Consider all aspects of basement storage, such as dealing with moisture and security, while you’re in the design stage. Careful planning allows you to realize the greatest value for your renovation dollar.

Incorporate Closets Around the Area

Whether your basement includes a bedroom, bathroom or just a gigantic rec room, closets can be incorporated for efficient storage. Closets hold everything from clothing to toys, linens and boxes. Neater than open shelving, closets also allow for greater security with door locks.

Installing extra closet space is simple, as long as you have the room. Consider borrowing a few square feet from the main area of your finished basement for a long, shallow closet with sliding doors. Or build a walk-in closet to allow for optimum flexibility.

Any awkward corners or dead space can be made into a closet with an extra wall or two and a door. Under the stairs, beside the three-piece bath or within an oddly shaped corner, closets provide extra storage for just about any item.

Use Built In Shelving

Framing and drywall play a major role in most Northern Virginia basement remodeling projects. And finishing the walls presents an opportunity to incorporate built in shelving of any shape and size.

Are you looking for a tidy place to store your entertainment system, movies and video games? Think about building a wall unit right into the framing. Books and any other collections can be easily stored in built in bookshelves, and a newly finished basement allows you to customize the bookshelf system to suit your collection. Include doors, alcoves and random shapes to make your built in shelving unique.

Consider the Moisture

Think about what you store in your basement, and consider the best method of storage. Because this living space is located below grade the risk of flood is greater. Consistent moisture can damage organic materials (like books, paper, and certain types of clothing), and result in mold and mildew. Store any sensitive or susceptible items in leak-proof bags or plastic totes, and be sure that all electronics are placed on shelves to avoid damage during minor flooding.

Be sure to include windows in your basement remodeling design, both for natural light and proper airflow. Install fresh air vents in the closets to keep the air moving and open the windows on a regular basis to air out the space.

Finishing the basement expands your living space, and also provides more storage. Design the area carefully, incorporating closets and built in shelving to make the best use of your new living space. With the help of a professional contractor, your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project will help to improve the value of your home and make day-to-day living more enjoyable.

Top Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Designs for Families

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Finished basements add valuable living space for a reasonable cost, a combination that appeals to growing families in a big way. Are you looking to create more room without breaking the bank? These Northern Virginia basement remodeling designs for families make a little below-grade space go a long way.

Move the Play Room Downstairs

Kids have toys, and throughout the course of each day those toys inevitably end up on the floor. Why not create a more comfortable main floor by moving toys to a dedicated spot downstairs?

This basement remodeling project includes a wide open space finished with durable walls, carpeting and plenty of storage. Think drywall covered with semi-gloss paint, easily cleaned and simple to paint over later. Build closet space into the room to give those toys a home, or simply use shelves and toy boxes to keep the area tidy.

Install berber carpet or something with similar levels of durability. Stain resistant brands are well worth any extra cost, and be sure to ask about closed cell underlayment. This product provides sound and heat insulation, as well as providing a moisture barrier to reduce mold and mildew in the basement.

Games for the Whole Family

No matter the age of your children, families love playing games together. And having an area dedicated to this type of family time makes it convenient to have fun together, even at a moment’s notice.

Install engineered wood flooring over a level subfloor, perfect for the pool table and air hockey table. Include room for seating and storage of the billiard equipment, as well as bright lighting to make game play easier. Natural lighting is important as well; you might consider enlarging the windows or installing a sliding patio door to create a brighter atmosphere in the basement.

If video games are your family’s favorite, make room for a flat screen television and an entertainment console with the latest gaming systems tucked inside. If board games are up your alley, set up large tables with plenty of extra seating and shelving to store your preferred games.

Create a Teen Hangout

While your teens may be happy hanging out just about anywhere, why not create a comfortable, inviting place with your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project? This area should include an entertainment center, complete with computer station, telephones and plenty of durable seating for a crowd.

Think about creating bedrooms downstairs as well, to allow your teens the privacy they crave. Always be sure the windows are large enough to be considered a fire escape and take pains to make the basement dry and odor-free. Your teen will appreciate having their own space, and if their bedrooms are close to an all-purpose hang out area complete with TV and computer, you may have to food or car keys to coax them upstairs.

For some families multiple rooms might suit this layout better. Leave the main area open to the upstairs, allowing minimal supervision and a more inviting atmosphere. And a bathroom with another shower is a must with teens living in the space.

However you design this Northern Virginia basement remodeling project, be sure to cater to your family’s lifestyle. Basement renovations are a fantastic value and can be easily and affordably altered as family dynamics change. Right now, make the most of your space with a finished basement custom made for your family.