October 4, 2018:

Is finishing your basement a waste of money?

Wondering if it’s worth your while to finish your basement? Sometimes buyers see an unfinished basement as a blank slate to design as they please. Finishing a basement is only of benefit if it is done tastefully, will provide use while you still own the home, and provides purposeful options for future owners.

Here are some tips to help you add value to your home with your basement reno without wasting money:

__Above or below?

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In general, the finished square footage of a basement does not yield as great a value as above ground does. If you are debating whether to renovate a main area of the home (such as a kitchen or living room) or finishing the basement, always opt to pump up the above ground value first. Kitchens, bathrooms and main living spaces are the first rooms buyers look at for turn-key livability.

is it worth it to finish a basement

Accessibility

The grade of your property could present potential you hadn’t considered. If the property slopes off to the back, consider if a full rear walkout might be an option. Who doesn’t dream of opening a grand set of double doors to a backyard patio oasis? Homes with a walkout present the most value as they allow for your living space to extend right outdoors. A partial drop in grade could allow for a separate entrance which is most favourable for an in-law suite or individual rooming space. Basements that have a walkout or even partial grade access often create brighter living spaces as well due to the option of installing larger windows or doorways.

accessible basement ROI

Think inside the box

You read that right. Don’t start dreaming of all the lavish uses for your basement unless you have a lot of space or plan to stay a while. The rooms that will yield the most value are going to seem like the most boring options…a living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Everyone wants an entertainment space where friends and family can gather, and adding a spare bedroom and bathroom will provide space for guests to stay the night or for older children to enjoy a little privacy. Exciting rooms like a home gym, theatre or wine cellar might seem attractive, but they will only appeal to a targeted clientele. Alternates to these dreamy spaces could be a wired-in sound system in the recreation room or a smaller wine fridge at a bar.

is it worth it to finish my basement

Finishing touches

If you choose to finish the basement, take out a proper permit to avoid legal headaches when it comes time to sell. And plan, plan, plan! Make quality and a flowing design your main priorities. Nobody likes a slap-stick job that screams of a last-minute fix. Basements are high risk for water leakage and moisture so ensure you take proper measures to either avoid this problem or to guarantee water drainage. Use similar finishes to that of the main floor so that there is a smooth transition between levels. Choose flooring, tile, paint and lighting finishes that are pleasing to the eye, but don’t go to the extreme of expensive finishes that blow the budget.

If you are thinking of selling your home and wondering if you should finish a basement space, it’s always best to speak with a trusted real estate agent first. They will be able to provide comparable values within the area and can best guide you as to where to invest your renovation dollars to get the most bang for your buck.

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Mark Faris, CEO & Broker


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